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NRM primaries: The minnows who beat ministers, MPs

It’s more than a week since the bruising NRM primaries ended, claiming in their wake a string of high profile political actors that included at least 16 ministers and a host of incumbent MPs and district chairmen.

Surprisingly many of the big names were felled by minnows. Below, The Observer brings you short profiles of some of the eventual conquerors.

Michael Mawanda Maranga

From the onset, Dr Richard Nduhura, the state minister for Health looked poised to win the primaries but as the campaigns gained momentum, he began staring at the jaws of defeat as Mawanda gained ground in Igara East.

Nduhura has represented Igara East since 2001. Born in Kitagata Parish, Kyeizooba Sub-county in Bushenyi District, Mawanda studied Economics at Makerere University and is a successful businessman.

The 43-year-old is the proprietor of Hunters Group Ltd, which includes a radio station, Hunter FM. He has also started a television station (Hunter TV) in Rwentuuha.

Much as he’s a newcomer on the political scene, Mawanda managed to beat Nduhura. During his campaigns, Mawanda donated generously to churches, mosques, schools and health centres.

Cerinah Nebanda

Nebanda, 22, a social science graduate from Makerere University pulled off one of the biggest upset by beating Dorothy Hyuha, the deputy secretary general of NRM and minister without portfolio, to become the ruling party’s flag bearer in the Butaleja district woman MP race.

Many say Nebanda rode on the unpalatable political differences that have of late dogged Butaleja politics.

But some say that although Nebanda has a strong family financial backing, she also enjoys the support of Bunyole MP, Emmanuel Dombo, a major political heavy weight in the region and revered nemesis of Hyuha. Before her now famous victory in the NRM primaries, Nebanda had been active in student politics at Makerere University. She was a guild cabinet minister.

Muhammad Nsereko

While new on the political scene, Nsereko beat veteran politician Francis Babu and Nakawa RDC Fred Bamwine to win the NRM ticket to run for the Kampala Central parliamentary seat.

The 29-year-old is a trained lawyer from Makerere University and received his master’s degree at the University of Kent in England. He’s a partner in Nsereko & Mukalazi Co Advocates.

He’s also a staunch football fan. His father Haj Abdul Nsereko is a popular veteran radio presenter at Radio Uganda (now UBC). On the campaign trail, he was the most generous among the aspirants and that, coupled with his immense mobilization skills, won him more support among the youth.

Raphael Magyezi

Magyezi ended the long political career of Sociologist Professor Tarsis Kabwegyere to become the NRM flag bearer in Igara West. It seems the Disaster Preparedness minister was caught unawares.

In fact, some of his rivals accused him of neglecting Igara and paying more attention to disasters elsewhere. And Magyezi exploited this to his advantage.

Magyezi is the secretary general of the Uganda Local Governments Associations (ULGA), which analysts say accorded him an important lobby platform in his campaign to oust Prof. Kabwagyere. For instance, it is said that the 50-year-old kicked off his campaign in 2008 under the guise of doing ULGA work.

No wonder he beat Kabwegyere in all the four sub-counties of the constituency. Magyezi’s triumph is also attributed to the fact that in the run-up to the elections Kabwegyere had fallen out with Bushenyi kingmaker Hassan Basajjabala, the NRM Entrepreneurs League boss.

And after 10 years of representing the constituency in Parliament (as well as being a Cabinet minister), Kabwegyere was accused of not bringing any development projects to Igara West.

Fox Odoi

Fox Odoi defeated the incumbent George William Oketcho to claim the NRM ticket in West Budama North in Tororo. Formerly a legal assistant to the president, Fox joined elective politics after being dropped two years ago.

During the 2006 campaigns, Odoi made headlines for the wrong reasons after he was pictured drawing a gun at opposition supporters in eastern Uganda.

Wilberforce Yaguma Rutashokwa

He beat Urban Tibamanya, the State minister for Urban Development in the race to seek NRM’s endorsement in Kashaari County.

Yaguma who has a BA in commerce from Makerere University has been active in Mbarara district politics for the last 14 years. Until last week’s primaries, Yaguma was Mbarara district chairman. Previously, Yaguma had been a district councillor for Rubindi sub-county. He was also the district’s secretary for finance for eight years.

Yonah Nsubuga

Nsubuga beat Ian Kyeyune to win the NRM endorsement for his candidature in the Wakiso district LC V race. Nsubuga is the head teacher at Light College Katikamu Secondary School in Masulita.

He also runs several private businesses that include stationery shops in Kampala and Wakiso. In his forties, Nsubuga holds an Education degree from Makerere University. He joined active politics in 1996 as a district councilor in Mpigi.

When Wakiso became a district, Nsubuga run for chairman but lost to Kyeyune in the 2001 elections. In 2006, Nsubuga skipped that election to prepare for the grand assault on Kyeyune, which he says culminated into his triumph in the recent NRM primaries.

But some analysts attribute Nsubuga’s victory to his closeness to vice president Prof Gilbert Bukenya, who is widely credited for sponsoring Kyeyune’s conqueror. Prof Bukenya and Eng Kyeyune are fierce political rivals.

Eng. Yorokam Bategana Katwiremu

Confusion still surrounds the outcome of the Sheema South poll but going by results announced by the returning officer last Tuesday, Katwiremu defeated incumbent MP and Cabinet minister Prof Ephraim Kamuntu.

(There were announcements on some radios on Friday saying the results had been changed, giving Kamuntu victory but the returning officer told us otherwise).

Katwiremu, 48, is not new in Sheema politics. In 1997, he defeated Prof Elijah Mushemeza in a by-election and went on to represent Sheema South in Parliament until 2001 when Kamuntu won the seat.

In the run-up to this year’s NRM primaries, Katwiremu has been a presidential advisor on AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act) and trade.

Katwiremu’s decision to make peace with Prof Mushemeza proved the master stroke that broke Kamuntu’s hold onto the Sheema seat. Mushemeza stood down for Katwiremu in a move which swayed all the former’s votes to the latter.

Eddie Kwizera

Kwizera, 50, is a former presidential assistant in charge of Great Lakes region. He beat Ethics minister James Nsaba Buturo in Bufumbira East.

Kwizera is also a farmer (cattle keeper) and he’s into real estate business. He develops, manages and owns property in Kampala. He’s not new to politics either, having been in the sixth parliament between 1996 and 2001, representing the same constituency. He has a bachelor’s degree in human resource management.

In 2005, he challenged the constitutionality of the law that requires public officers to first resign before they can compete for political offices.

Maurice Kibalya

Kibalya beat Lands junior minister Asuman Kiyingi to carry the NRM flag in Bugabula South. A Busoga College Mwiri old boy, Kibalya’s political career began at Makerere University as a Guild President, and vocal member of the then vibrant Uganda Young Democrats (UYD).

Shortly after campus, Kibalya worked as a marketing executive at Uganda Breweries Ltd before he resigned to join politics. During the run-up to the NRM party primaries, he filed a case against the embattled junior lands minister accusing him of drawing a gun at him and his supporters. Kiyingi’s act is believed to have cost him dearly.  

Vincent Bagiire ‘Obama’

It was a clash of the titans (Bagiires).  At the beginning, it looked obvious that the old broom knows all corners. However, Aggrey Bagiire, the State Minister for Agriculture was beaten hands-down by Vincent Bagiire to win the NRM ticket for Bunya West.

The 32-year-old owns CIPESA, an IT company based in Naguru. He’s a known NRM mobiliser and was part of president Museveni’s Busoga region campaign team for the 2001 and 2006 elections.

Ironically, he was the chief campaigner for Aggrey Bagiire in the 2006 parliamentary elections. Nicknamed Obama (in reference to US president Barack Obama) by his supporters, Vincent Bagiire set up an IT training centre with over 100 computers and free Internet.

The move earned him a lot of support especially among the young. He also financially supported 50 women groups in Mayuge district and offered 80 scholarships to university students.

Saleh Kamba

Saleh Kamba, 39, is the incumbent MP for Kibuku County. He defeated state Minister for Water Jennifer Namuyangu in the NRM primaries.

As MP, Kamba has fought and won many political battles before. For instance, he defeated DP strong woman Reiner Kafiire in the 2006 elections to become MP.

Kamba’s recent victory against Namuyangu is widely attributed to his successful lobbying for a district status for Kibuku, which the minister had opposed. Until recently, Kibuku was part of Pallisa district.

An accountant by profession, Kamba formerly worked in the UPDF as finance officer at various posts between 1993 and 2005. In the House, he chairs the committee on defence and internal affairs, and is also a member of the public accounts committee.

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