NRM, FDC size up in Jinja East
On March 15, voters in Jinja Municipality East will go to the polls again to elect their Member of Parliament following the nullification of Nathan Igeme Nabeta’s election during the February 2016 Parliamentary elections.
The seat became vacant on January 12 after a panel of three justices of the Court of Appeal led by former Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma ruled that the election results of one polling station were falsified and hence affected the results of the entire constituency.
The by-election has attracted eight candidates namely, Nabeta (NRM), Paul Mwiru (FDC) and independents Francis Wakabi, Richard Nyanzi and Christine Abuze.
Others are, Hatim Isabirye, Faisal Mayemba and Paul Mugaya.
This is an election that NRM cannot afford to lose being that Nabeta is among the 317 MPs that voted for the deletion of Article 102 (b) which provided for the constitutional presidential age limits.
“We don’t want one of our great MPs to lose because it will give the opposition opportunity to claim that he had been punished for voting for amendment,” NRM Secretary General Justine Kasule Lumumba said during NRM’s thanksgiving fete at Kiboga on February 25.
Senior party officials are camping in Jinja to drum up support for Nabeta who is facing resistance from some of the NRM leaders in the district.
The infighting forced President Yoweri Museveni to drive to Jinja on February 8 to reconcile the warring factions.
Nabeta is the Jinja district NRM chairman but was not seeing eye to eye with Jinja West MP Moses Balyeku whom he defeated during the NRM grassroots elections in 2015.
One of the NRM camps called itself Israel and the other Palestine.
Following Museveni’s meeting at the Jinja based civil service college, Balyeku agreed to campaign for Nabeta, and, according to Lumumba, Balyeku is taking the lead role in the campaigns.
But not all NRM leaders agreed to campaign for Nabeta, some openly joined Mwiru’s post nomination rally after his nomination on February 13.
The FDC camp riding on the disagreements within NRM to campaign against Nabeta.
At some of his rallies, Nabeta has been confronted with questions as to why he voted for the age limit removal bill.
In bars around Jinja town, stories are told about how Nabeta has to explain himself, going as far as denying that he voted for the amendment. Before the bill was passed into law on December 22, 2017, Nabeta had a hard time with his constituents over the bill. He for instance failed to consult openly, and also survived an arsonist attack on his home in Masese, Walukuba division.
MWIRU KU MWIRU
FDC’s Mwiru seems to enjoy a smooth campaign given that his candidature has united the various opposition groups. DP president Norbert Mao has been in the constituency to campaign for Mwiru as did other FDC officials and MPs.
Walking on the streets of Jinja, you can’t miss hearing anyone chanting “Mwiru ku Mwiru” the FDC candidate’s campaign slogan.
He enjoys wide support among youths and those employed in the informal sector.
Other opposition figures such former FDC presidents Kizza Besigye and Mugisha Muntu as well as Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) are expected to join his campaign trail in the last week.
President Museveni is also expected to return to the constituency on March 13 to campaign for Nabeta.