Jinja’s ‘village boy’ kicks Kisambira out, Batambuze blames Balyeku

Julius Zziwa accuses Jinja DISO Lt Fred Musoke for allegedly working behind the scenes to frustrate his NRM mayoral.


In this special edition we bring you factors that led to the victories as well as defeats of the various aspirants who now stand ready to face off with their counterparts from other political parties.

Jinja—14, September 2020: The saying that ‘revenge is best served cold’ has come to pass in Jinja, where Moses Batwala commonly referred to as “a village boy” stunned Titus Kisambira in the Friday NRM LC5 Chairpersons’ primary election.

The ‘village boy’ garnered 75,509 votes to become the party flag bearer in the general elections.

Batwala’ highest score sends Kisambira (the incumbent) parking with 58,661 votes for the now a smaller district after some administrative units like Bugembe Town Council, Budondo and Mafubira sub-counties were annexed to Jinja City Council.

The results were announced late in the night while Batwala was nursing serious injuries at Nile International Hospital in Walukuba following bloody violence clashes with rival supporters that kept the police busy.

This was almost a repeat of what happened during the 2016 general elections when Batwala wailed to the top of his voice a few minutes before the Electoral Commission declared Kisambira the winner amidst tight security.

Batwala who was roughly bundled and thrown outside the tally centre at Busoga Square refused to petition but vowed to humiliate Kisambira in 2021 general elections, which he has just started.

Kisambira whose key campaign message hinged on the relocation of the district headquarters to Kagoma lost in all the rural sub-counties including his Buatagaya, a symbolic vote of no confidence in his five-year stint at the helm of the district administration.

In the other race, Robert Kanusu who a few years ago ‘saw political light’ and defected from the opposition party UPC, has shocked NRM old timers by snatching the flag for the much-coveted position possibly to become the first Mayor of Jinja City Council.

Kanusu polled 8,619 beating his close rival, Julius Zziwa who got 6,041 votes.

Another aspirant, a youthful Mohammed Ntuyo came third with 1,778 votes while little known Jeff Bidandi trailed.

The election of Kanusu has been described as a surprise victory for a man who has for decades been critical of the regime only to turn around and seek its political anointing oil.

In this special edition we bring you factors that led to the victories as well as defeats of the various aspirants who now stand ready to face off with their counterparts from other political parties.

Grassroots politics vs urban politics

Batwala who served as Butagaya sub county councilor for 10 years and at one time also served for four years as vice-chairman to retired UPDF soldier Lt Hannington Basekana is quite knowledgeable about grass root people.

Known to many as a graveyard politician, Batwala is a man who takes no chance whenever an opportunity presents itself during any social ceremony from marriage, funeral ceremonies to baptism and child naming celebrations.

This is the exact opposite of Kisambira, who is more of a town boy and a dealer than a politician who has to frequently relate with the common person whose main interest is presence.

While Batwala easily mingles with the locals, sharing roasted maize and bananas in small trading centres, Kisambira is a common face in big hotels, supermarkets and pubs watching soccer while lubricating the throats with cold beer and muchomo.

Nothing tangible on the ground.

Kisambira took things for granted and always dismissed Batwala as a non-starter whom he could repulse merely by splashing money to the vulnerable population and win the card.

This was a grave mistake because the seemingly quiet voters are actually very intelligent, waiting patiently to punish errant politicians during elections.

Apart from the incomplete new district headquarters at Kagoma (about 21kms), Kisambira’s administration has nothing to show to the voters who have decided to ditch him for their ‘village boy’, Batwala.

 Kanusu vs Zziwa (Security team)

Zziwa who has threatened to come as an independent candidate has rejected the results and accused the Jinja District Internal Security Officer (DISO) Lt Fred Musoke of being the chief manipulator.

The ex-police officer, who has also filed a petition, maintains he won with 9,719 votes while Kanusu got 5,401 and Medi Ntuyo came third with 4,383 votes.

Reports emerging say Musoke who is now the acting RDC has not been happy with every politician or security personnel who is positively linked to the embattled RDC, Eric Joseph Sakwa.

Consequently, Zziwa who is the acting NRM chairman for Jinja City has paid heavily for his April 24 spirited negotiation with the former RPC, Paul Nkore not to brutally uproot and handcuff Sakwa from the studio of NBS FM where he had just concluded a Covid-19 pandemic sensitization talk show.

Having profiled the aspirants, it’s reported that Musoke who is now in bed with Sakwa’s tormentors rated Kanusu highest as the most suitable and competent person to carry the NRM flag to face other candidates like the ‘cantankerous’ FDC’s Dr Frank Nabwiso in 2021 general elections.

Zziwa’s other political sin came to the forefront in the Jinja East by election in 2018 when he openly supported Paul Mwiru, an opposition candidate against the NRM anointed Nathan Igeme Nabeta whose lost humiliated the NRM bigwigs.

Reports also say the NRM Secretary General, Hon. Justine Kasule Lumumba who enjoys a good working relationship with Igeme has never forgiven Zziwa and so the election was an opportune time to pay back.

 Budondo sub-county factor

All the three NRM aspirants hail from Budondo, which is also home to some of the most powerful public figures in both government and private sector and has the largest number of registered voters.

Among the top figures include the NPA boss/Busoga Kingdom Prime Minister (Katukiro) Dr Joseph Muvawala, Uganda’s deputy ambassador to India Hajji Mohammed Baswari Kezaala, Cooperatives Minister Frederick Ngobi Gume, among others.

This means the three shared the votes and the one with the highest number of votes will always take the day.

Opposition (UPC) factor

Although both are politicians in the same age bracket, Kanusu’s political journey has plenty of controversies which make his name louder and clearer to the voting community in the constituency.

The peak of the controversy happened while competing against Gume in 2011 for the LC5 spot when he kicked election materials at Mafubira polling station, accusing the Electoral Commission officials of connivance with the police to rob him of victory.

The matter which became the talk of the town earned Kanusu sympathy from the public, who saw him as a brave man who could challenge highly protected politicians from the region.

Most people are sympathetic to the former UPC boy who once served as Personal Assistant to the flopped 2011 presidential contender Dr Olara Otunnu, who has since vanished from the political scene.

The invisible political hands

The players have always said there is no permanent enmity or friendship in politics since foes can become allies while friends will also become opponents if the circumstances prevailing warrant.

Reports also suggest that some high-profile politicians and investors have thrown their weights behind Kanusu whom they think and believe is still not heavily infected with corruption so rampant in the new city.

Igeme vs Batambuze

A new dramatic twist has emerged in the political terrain of Jinja where the once tight buddies, Nathan Igeme Nabeta and Majid Batambuze (mayor) are now trading accusations at each other.

Igeme who hesitantly picked nomination forms from Kyadondo in the dying hour stunned his colleague Batambuze, who had hoped to sail through unopposed as the NRM card bearer to the problematic Jinja East currently in the hands of Paul Mwiru.

Batambuze, like most politicians who lost in the scandal hit primaries, is now preparing to contest as an independent saying the ground is very favorable to guarantee his victory in 2021.

He has also blamed his defeat on Balyeku, who reportedly worked with one of the investors to fund Igeme with millions of shillings which was used to influence the voters.

“…we have always disagreed with him (Balyeku) over Tirupati land on Plot 24B Kyabazinga way…so he found an opportunity to hit at me just to quench his anger…”, Batambuze alleges.

From the way things are moving, there is every sign that most of the aspirants who lost the card during the primary elections are determined to contest on independent tickets, implying the opposition could make inroads in the region that has for years been predominantly NRM.

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