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Cracks in Bobi Wine, DP MPs partnership

NUP president Robert Kyagulanyi

NUP president Robert Kyagulanyi

Last week, the National Unity Platform [NUP] led by Robert Kyagulanyi, the Kyadondo East MP, welcomed eleven members of parliament, shoring its numbers in the House to 17 MPs.

All 11 were Democratic Party [DP]- leaning MPs including an Independent allied to the oldest party in Uganda. The 11 included; Betty Nambooze Bakireke [Mukono municipality], Medard Lubega Sseggona [Busiro East], Mathias Mpuuga [Masaka municipality], Muwanga Kivumbi [Butambala], Florence Namyanja [Bukoto East], Veronica Nanyondo [Bukomansimbi woman], Joseph Ssewungu [Kalngu West], Moses Kasibante [Independent Lubaga North], Allan Ssewanyana [Makindye West], and Emmanuel Kigozi Ssempala (Makindye-Ssabagabo).

At their unveiling at the Kamwokya party headquarters, all newcomers looked like they had gathered to mourn rather than celebrate their defection. Hand on his chin, Butambala MP Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi looked sombre most of the time. His face lit up only once when he was handed his NUP membership card. His counterparts Betty Nambooze Bakireke (Mukono municipality) and Kalungu West MP Joseph Ssewungu looked sad too.

When she stood to pick her new party card, NUP enthusiasts put the party’s red beret on her head but she removed it a few minutes later. Asked in an interview with this newspaper to comment about her somberness, she said there was nothing to jubilate about. She said she was leaving a party she has belonged to for the last 30 years of her active political life.

“In Buganda, the day we install a new king, we are burying another one, what demeanour do you want a person to put on...? It was sad that we were parting DP and joining a party that was starting. It would be very sad of me, if I was jubilating. I’m sad for having left DP...” Nambooze said.

But was leaving DP the only reason she was sad? Those in the know disagree. They say it was unbelievable that Nambooze, who was at one point a kingmaker in Buganda, was now kneeling before Kyagulanyi, a novice in politics.

“When Kyagulanyi contested for the Kyadondo East by-election, no credible politician supported him. He approached many including Nambooze but she refused to offer her support. Bobi Wine has never forgotten that. So, seeing her in Kamwokya showed how fortunes can change,” said a person close to Kyagulanyi.


DP members who fell out with their party president general found themselves in a tight spot after it became clear that Norbert Mao was not about to allow them use the party ticket in the 2021 general election. Kyagulanyi complicated matters when he decided to use NUP to blackmail those who were reluctant to join him.

He said whoever doesn’t join it, he/she should forget about his endorsement. That ultimatum rattled many People Power leaning MPs who face a threat from an array of young politicians who are lining up to run in their constituencies on the NUP ticket. 

“The guy has succeeded in blackmailing everybody who appears not to be supporting him. He incites his supporters to attack you on social media and others come even to our homes and tell us why we should join NUP,” one MP said.

MPs like Betty Nambooze, Moses Kasibante and Allan Ssewanyana were reluctant to join but the en masse defection of their supporters to NUP pushed them to join. To make matters worse, NUP also attracted formidable challengers to take them on. For example, in Mukono municipality, Nambooze will have to beat off the challenge from George Kagimu, the municipality mayor, a People Power loyalist.

Kagimu is also in good books with DP’s president general Norbert Mao. In Lubaga North, Kasibante is facing Kampala Capital City Authority speaker Abubaker Kawalya and another James Mubiru, while Ssewanyana is facing a Bobi Wine diehard David Musiri.

This pushed many like Mathias Mpuuga who is facing Mukasa Mbidde in Masaka, to join NUP even before their leaders Medard Lubega Sseggona and Butambala County MP Muwanga Kivumbi finished negotiating the terms of their partnership with Kyagulanyi’s party. Kyagulanyi was still reluctant to sign a memorandum of understanding that would guarantee that incumbents in the DP-block would not be subjected to primary elections.

“They wanted him to sign the same thing he had refused to sign with Mao that would ensure that he doesn’t field candidates but he was very skeptical,” said a source close to Kyagulanyi.

Kyagulanyi, the source said, asked whoever wants to join NUP to do so as an individual, and not as a group. Those in the know say that a one-and-half-page memorandum was later signed by the leaders of the DP-block such as Sseggona but others didn’t see it.

A person familiar with the agreement said when they signed the memorandum, Kyagulanyi had already decided who he will support.

“I met Kyagulanyi the day before those guys joined and he said there is no way he is going to support Nambooze, Kasibante and Ssewanyana. He has been working with people in their consistencies and it will be betrayal if he abandons them for these guys who he knows have never supported him before,” our source told us.

Medard Lubega Sseggona (R) shows off his NUP card

The only people who will not have primary challengers, the source added, are Kivumbi, Mpuuga and Sseggona who have been working closely with Kyagulanyi. This version was confirmed by another person close to the DP-block.

“They said if Nambooze wants their support, she should consider standing for woman MP for Mukono district because they already have Kagimu who is even bankrolling some of their activities,” a source said.

When asked about the memorandum they signed, Nambooze called it fake news and instead said her going to NUP has nothing to do with her electability.

“In democracies, presidential candidates look for big politicians for endorsement; it’s not the other way round. The stupid thing would be for me to come to Mukono and say ‘vote for me because Bobi Wine wants me. I’m not seeking endorsement from him... But even if my colleagues enter into such an arrangement, I don’t need it because I have done so many things that please my voters,” Nambooze said. Another source told this newspaper that Kyagulanyi is a very happy man now, because he has almost achieved what he wanted; being Dr Kizza Besigye’s replacement as the most prominent opposition politician.

“We want to take over leadership in parliament and use those resources allocated to the office of the Leader of Opposition against Museveni. And you can see if things go according to plan, we are soon becoming the majority opposition party in parliament,” one of the six MPs that first joined NUP said in an interview.

NUP is also eying money from the Electoral Commission, which is given to parties based on their numeric strength in parliament. Of the Shs 10billion, NRM with 310 MPs takes Shs 8 billion, FDC with 37 MPs bags Shs 1 billion, DP with 15 MPs has been getting Shs 400 million, UPC with seven MPs has been getting Shs 190 million while Jeema with one MP gets 28 million every year.

However, if Speaker Rebecca Kadaga’s words are anything to go by, NUP will have to wait to get the cash until this term of office is over. While speaking on CBS radio recently Kadaga said although the law allows MPs to switch sides in the last year of their tenure, they remain part of the party that sponsored them to parliament until the expiry of the term.


Even after publicly displaying camaraderie, one of the stickiest issues that bother senior politicians in NUP is Kyagulanyi’s method of work.

“He doesn’t trust any of them; he thinks they are out to undermine him. He’s prepared to show them that he’s the boss. If you don’t want to accept him and the young people he’s working with, then leave,” Bobi Wine’s confidant told us.

Little wonder, therefore, that he created a party, appointed deputies without telling his partners in the movement. Like in the formation of NUP, many were surprised when Kyagulanyi announced Mathias Mpuuga as his deputy for Central region, Lina Zedriga for northern, Jolly Mugisha Ekyomugasho for western and John Baptist Nambeshe, the MP for Manjiya, for Eastern region without any of his partner’s knowledge.

It was also telling that Kyagulanyi never gave an opportunity to those that had crossed to his party to say anything. “He said he doesn’t want to share a platform with anybody. He even ordered people like Latif Ssebaggala who had made it a habit to stand next to him while he addressed the press to stop doing so,” our source told us.

When it was his time to speak, he made it clear to all and sundry that in NUP there is no seniority.

“All of us here are equal,” Kyagulanyi said.


+1 #1 Lysol 2020-08-19 06:10
DP has always been a party of defectors since it promulgation, by one Kiwanuka. There is nothing new here. Robert will learn the hard way.
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+3 #2 Emmanuel 2020-08-19 13:17
A credible newspaper should stay away from stories that would ordinarily be published in a tabloid, the story is full of hear say. Please build a brand that attracts reasonable stories not just anything.
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0 #3 Sabiti 2020-08-19 17:56
I like what I am reading. Whoever never expected this does not know how to read the skies.
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0 #4 Wooden K. 2020-08-19 18:40
You said it Emmanuel !

When it comes to Bobi Wine /People Power , Observer goes tabloid . ; "Our Reporter" becomes a mind-reader.

I get amused .
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+1 #5 James Mukwaya 2020-08-19 18:52
Quoting Lysol:
DP has always been a party of defectors since it promulgation, by one Kiwanuka. There is nothing new here. Robert will learn the hard way.

Kiwanuka did not found DP
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+1 #6 Wooden K. 2020-08-19 23:25
Sabiti , you never fail to disappoint
What skies are you talking about ?

the "Reporter" becomes your genius because he studies faces and reaches a conclusion that
there must be "CRACKS !?

If you are that lazy , hard luck to you , because its you who can`t read what is unfolding .
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+1 #7 Wooden K. 2020-08-19 23:36
j James Mukwaya Ssebo , our friend Lysol does not go very far when it comes to many things .

Allow me to point out that if DP is party of defectors , then we must find a reason why it has out-lived the all the parties of non-defectors ?

Deos anybody remember that almost all the old men / women in NRM top positions defected from UPC `?

I would gladly bet anything against the odds that NRM will survive for year when Museveni is no longer with us.
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