Meet 23-year-old beans trader that unseated Semeo Nsubuga

Frank Kabuye greeting some of his supporters

Frank Kabuye greeting some of his supporters

FRANK KABUYE will be making 24 years on October 24, and will be one of the youngest MPs in the 11th Parliament.

Kabuye beat former Kampala Metropolitan Area Police spokesperson Semeo Nsubuga to become the MP for Kassanda South in Kassanda district.

Kabuye, who Quick Talk found on a truck offloading sacks of maize and beans at Bulenga near the roundabout, said he is yet to come to terms with the fact that he is an MP-elect.

Who is Frank Kabuye?

I’m 23 years old, a son to Jonathan Kibirige and Justine Nakiwala of Kyakatabe in Nalutuntu sub-county in Kassanda district. I’m still a student at Makerere University doing my bachelor’s degree in Statistics, in my third and final year.

Where did you go to school?

I finished my primary in 2010 [Ten years ago, he was a pupil! Imagine that!] at Frema primary school in Mityana Wabigalo, then joined Mityana Modern Secondary School in 2011 where I sat my senior four from. I then came to Lubiri Secondary School [for HSC.] In 2016, I joined Makerere University.

How many children are you?

Between my mother and father we are eight children, but I also have half siblings.

When did you get interested in politics?

My interest in politics came in when Hon Kyagulanyi Ssentamu [NUP president and former presidential candidate] was contesting for Kyadondo East constituency. We supported him even when we were from a different region.

Because he won, it showed us we can be what we want to be, as long as we work hard. Then the constitutional amendment [to remove age limits] really closed the deal. In Kassanda South, our MP Semeo Nsubuga was at the forefront of the amendment.

This showed me how my consistuency needed me to end Semeo’s tenure because he was up to no good. I started meeting our principal, Hon Kyagulanyi Ssentamu and like they say, the rest is history.

But did you believe even remotely that you could win?

You know in politics we have two sides; we can’t have a draw. You either win or lose. By the way, I did not put in a lot of money as my competitors did. I didn’t make promises to people or my campaigners. I was true to myself and the people trusted me.

Still, where did you get the money?

I didn’t spend even a quarter of what my competitors spent. I thank Kyagulanyi who helped us debunk the value of money in politics.

Everywhere I went people would say we are going to eat their money but we know what to do. I started working in 2014 in my vacation, buying and selling food produce especially maize and beans. I used my savings in my campaigns. I also got contributions from friends and my father.

I have seen you working; how are the guys treating you now that you are an MP-elect?

I have spent like a month away from my work, but when I came back, my colleagues didn’t want me to do what I used to do. They want me to do simple work, yet I am used to the heavy work of sampling the maize, spiking and carrying bags, but right now they don’t allow me.

Do you see yourself doing this even after you have been sworn in?

Yes, because this is the business I have known from childhood. I know when parliament starts, I won’t have as much time, but I have to come and check on my people. These people did everything to make sure I go through.

Are you prepared for the work ahead?

I don’t believe that to be a good leader you need to know everything. As our principal tells us, we must be ready to learn new things and unlearn others.

Who is your role model in parliament?

I admire Hon Muwanga Kivumbi of Butambala. I like the way he interprets issues and the way he handles situations. I also like our principal.

Do you have a legislator you look at and say I really do not want to be like this person?

I do not want to be like those MPs who sell the country to satisfy themselves, like these ones requesting for amendments to their term from five to seven years.

How long do you want to be a Member of Parliament?

Two terms are enough. In 10 years’ time, I will be leaving for somebody else. I want to keep my word as I told the people of Kassanda.

You are getting at least Shs 200m to buy a car; have you ever handled 200 million?

I have ever handled it, but it wasn’t mine. They only paid me 30k when I delivered it to the owner.

Will you be buying the car?

I want to first purchase an ambulance. I promised my people that we have to improve the health sector. I will be sending it to Kiganda Health Centre.

Do you have a car?

Yes, a Toyota Kluger. But I will upgrade to a Toyota Harrier.

Do you have a girlfriend or wife?

I have a girlfriend; she just finished campus. We were in the same class but I had to cut off my last year to concentrate on politics. We were in campaigns by the time campus resumed.

What did she say when she heard you had won?

She was there with me as an agent.

Frank Kabuye with Bobi Wine

What about your mother?

At first she did not believe I had won. She saw people coming home to congratulate me and she welcomed them, but the message had not yet sunk in. But after four days, she called me and said she couldn’t believe I’m now an MP.

That she started believing after her friends came to congratulate her. As for me, I have also not yet believed it. I only remember that I’m now an MP when I visit places that I previously used to hustle to access, but now the respect they show me is immense.

But I don’t want that kind of respect. I want people to know me for what I do, not who I am. I want what I do to talk for me, not I to explain it. The [excessive] respect we give [MPs] is what makes them think that they are above us. There are legislators that have been there way before you were born…

I know it will be challenging because naturally there are things that I like that they will not like. Equally, there are things I will like that they will not like but I will take it as an opportunity to learn from people more senior.

How do you spend your time?

I love football. I support Manchester United. And locally I support my team Ssingo FC and another one in my constituency called Kakungube FC. I normally watch [international matches] from hotels with friends.

What are your colleagues at university saying? Have their calls increased?

Yeah! I like them for what they did for me. In my class we are 53, but I received a team of 49 of them. They helped me guard my votes in a sub-county called Mannyogaseka.

I expected no votes from this place and I knew there would be rigging. When I received a team from Makerere, I deployed them there and they were very helpful. I got a few votes there, but we managed to stop the rigging.

Have you talked to Semeo?

No, but I will talk to him in the future.

Semeo was one of the MPs the opposition badly wanted to beat; are people calling you to congratulate you for the work well done?

The last time I was in Bwaise with Julius Kateregga [Makerere University Guild president] looking for votes, wherever he introduced me as the guy who beat Semeo Nsubuga, people would give me money.

At Bwaise market, a guy gave me two kilograms of mpuuta. He fried it as we watched and we ate it. People were very happy that I defeated Semeo.

Some people say you guys are not up to standard to be leaders…

We may be young; we may not be the people they expected, but we are the leaders now. We are going to work hard and surprise them. We may not be the best, but we love our country and want to see it go to another level.

What’s your favourite dish?

I love matoke, rice and yams. I also enjoy beans and groundnuts.

What clothes make you most comfortable?

I like jeans, but it seems I’m going to limit their usage.

How many suits do you have in your wardrobe?

They are quite many, but I’m going to get some more because apparently that’s the dress code for parliament.

I have heard MPs-elect say banks are calling, offering loans. Are they calling you?

They are calling, but we were warned from day one by our principal not to fall victims of these banks. I can handle the temptation right now, that’s why I came back to work so that I can have money to use without getting loans.


© 2016 Observer Media Ltd