The Kira Municipality Member of Parliament Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda has said he is disappointed that some members of the opposition were given money to influence the choice of speaker and deputy speaker in yesterday’s election.
Speaking to Uganda Radio Network, Ssemujju, who also doubles as the spokesperson of the Forum for Democratic Change party-FDC was resoundingly defeated in his bid to become the speaker of the 11th Parliament. The third highest seat in Uganda was won by the Omoro County MP, Jacob Oulanyah of the National Resistance Movement-NRM who scored 310 votes against his closest rival and former boss Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga woman MP for Kmauli district who garnered 197 votes.
On the other hand, Ssemujju, the only opposition MP in the race scored only 15 votes. In the deputy speakership race, Anita Among of the NRM, the woman MP for Bukedea district scored 415 votes against Yusuf Nsibambi of the FDC who got 35 votes and Muhammad Nsereko and independent MP for Kampala Central who scored 24 votes. These score to Ssemujju were largely influenced by monetary inducements which were extended even to members of the opposition and the NRM.
It should be recalled that even President Museveni accused Kadaga during the Central Executive Committee-CEC meeting at Entebbe of using money to sway the vote in her favour.
Ssemujju wondered why Among would get so many votes although in the race there were opposition candidates. Collectively, the opposition controls 109 seats in the 529 member parliament. Of these, the National Unity Platform has 57, FDC, 32, Uganda People’s Congress 09, Democratic Party 09, Justice Forum 01 and People’s Progressive Party 01.
Ssemujju said the decision by the NUP leadership to tell their members to support candidates other than those in the opposition is the reason he under-performed.
It is not only Ssemujju who alleged that there was a lot of money that exchanged hands not only at Kololo but even in the days leading to the election. According to interviews with several MPs who spoke on condition of anonymity to candidly discuss the matter, both camps of Oulanyah which also had Among and that of Kadaga which had Thomas Tayebwa who eventually withdrew from the race were all guilty of giving money.
However, most fingers were pointed to Among who is said to have bribed MPs with between 1-3 Million Shillings. Three NUP MPs also confessed that during their retreat in Jinja last month, Among met with a number of them. “At night people got out of their rooms and returned with big bottles of wine, and each with not less than Shs 1million. Among asked them to vote for her and that this will be the beginning of more good things to come,” one MP told us.
Another MP also said that Among helped many of the NUP MPs even get Official Passports which are normally given to senior government officials. “In three days, they were able to get the passports and you know many have never held passports moreover official ones. She promised to get them trips if she becomes the deputy speaker. So I was not surprised when she got the votes she got,” the MP who himself was approached for the offer said.
Ssemujju said its entreaties have caused Ugandans to lose trust in politicians. “Many of these MPs are my friends; it’s not that they don’t like me but it’s politics gone bad. I saw people say people power our power, they should have said people money our money. You can say Ssemujju is very bad and that Kadaga has taken on Museveni but Anita Among of NRM; what was the justification for voting for her,” Ssemujju asked. The former opposition chief was also not happy with Kyagulanyi for having written to him[Kyagulanyi] to meet him and officially ask for his party support.
Joel Ssenyonyi the spokesperson of NUP himself an MP for Nakawa West could neither deny nor confirm whether their members were one of those who were bribed.
On why NUP didn’t vote for Ssemujju and probably other opposition MPs for the position of deputy speaker, Ssenyonyi said there was never a consensus on who they should vote for. He said much as they are all opposition, they nevertheless never had a joint candidate whom they were all obliged to vote for.
Efforts to speak to Among were futile as she neither picked nor returned our calls to her known number.
NUP on Sunday held a meeting in which it was decided that the party would support Kadaga who had fallen out of favour with the NRM. In that same meeting, Shamim Malende, the woman MP for Kampala was also nominated as the party’s candidate for the position of deputy speaker. However, in the last hour, Malende pulled out of the race for an unexplained reason.
When asked, Ssenyonyi said it was after the realization that she had no chance to win that she pulled out.