Opposition Parties Fighting to Take One Another’s Parliamentary Seats

The four parties share among themselves 60 MPs with FDC having the lion’s share with 37 MPs, 15 for DP, seven for UPC and one for Jeema. However, for most of those 60 positions, not only is the NRM fronting candidates to try and capture them, but even other opposition parties want to capture the same seats.

An analysis of the 2021 candidates has shown that the four opposition parties that have got sitting Members of Parliament do not only have to wade off the ruling National Resistance Movement party to retain the seats but also need to fight other opposition parties.

Forum for Democratic Change [FDC], Democratic Party [DP], Uganda People’s Congress [UPC] and the Justice Forum [Jeema] are the only opposition parties out of the almost 40 registered parties, with representation in Parliament. The four parties share among themselves 60 MPs with FDC having the lion’s share with 37 MPs, 15 for DP, seven for UPC and one for Jeema.

However, for most of those 60 positions, not only is the NRM fronting candidates to try and capture those seats, but even other opposition parties want to capture the same seats. This might put in jeopardy those seats as it increases the likelihood that the NRM might capture them.

Kampala stands out as the biggest battleground for opposition parties. Currently FDC holds four of the nine parliamentary seats in Kampala followed by DP which has one while the remaining four are independents. However, for almost every seat in Kampala, there are more than four opposition candidates vying for it. 

In Nakawa division which was split to create Nakawa East and Nakawa West, DP and the new entrant NUP have all got candidates in both to compete against one another. In Nakawa East, incumbent MP, Michael Kabaziguruka is competing with NUP’s Balimwezo Nsubuga while in Nakawa West where FDC is fronting Wilberforce Kyambadde who is competing with NUP’s Joel Ssenyonyi.

In Makindye West, FDC’s Ibrahim Kasozi is facing NUP’s Derick Nyeko and DP’s Ssentamu Samuel Kabanda. In Kawempe South constituency which is currently being held by FDC’s Mubaraka Munyagwa, he’s facing NUP’s Kazibwe Bashir Mbaziira, DP’s Ssebuliba Mutumba and ANT’s Makumbi Kennedy. 

For the Kampala district woman MP which is currently held by FDC, Nabilah Naggayi Ssempala who has since switched parties to NUP and also challenging FDC'c Elias Lukwago (who recently decamped from DP) for Kampala Lord mayorship, Dr Stella Nyanzi the FDC candidate is tussling it out with candidates from NUP, ANT, Jeema and DP. 

On the other hand, the Makindye West constituency currently held by DP’s Allan Ssewanyana, but who has since defected to NUP, FDC, Jeema and DP, have all got candidates fighting for the seat that has kept on changing parties for every election save for 2011 elections when Jeema’s Haji Hussein Kyanjo represented it for the second term.

Lubaga South, Lubaga North, Kawempe North and Kampala Central which are represented by opposition-leaning MPs; Kato Lubwama, Moses Kasibante, Latif Ssebaggala and Muhammad Nsereko respectively, are all being contested by candidates from the FDC, NUP and DP despite having incumbents who have always caucused with the opposition during their time in parliament. 

In the neighboring district of Wakiso DP has two and FDC one member of parliament; Medard Lubega Sseggona for Busiro East, Ssempala Kigozi for Makindye Ssaabagabo and Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda for Kira municipality respectively. Sseggona has since switched sides to join NUP for which  he is the flagbearer, hence opening a room for (another) DP, FDC and ANT candidates.

In Makindye Ssaabagabo, Ssempala missed out on the NUP ticket and he’s contesting as an independent against candidates from the FDC, NUP and DP. For Kira, Ssemujju is battling with NUP’s Jimmy Lukwago and DP’s Mukiibi Joseph. 

In the other remaining constituencies of Wakiso that is; Entebbe municipality, Nansana municipality, and Wakiso woman MP which are currently held by the NRM party, FDC, NUP and DP, the four parties have candidates in the races. The same is true for Kyadondo East which is currently held by independent MP Kyagulanyi Robert Ssentamu, the presidential candidate for NUP, where DP, FDC are both having candidates. 

Overall, in the 37 constituencies currently being held by FDC, the National Unity Platform is fielding 23 candidates, the Democratic Party is fielding 10 candidates, the Uganda People’s Congress is fielding two candidates while the Alliance for National Transformation, a breakaway of the FDC and whose leader and presidential candidate is Gen. Mugisha Muntu, is fielding eight candidates against FDC incumbents. 

For Democratic Party which has 15 incumbent MPs, 10 of whom defected to NUP, is fielding a replacement for every MP that defected. Save for Ssempala Kigozi of Makindye Ssaabagabo, the rest of the nine MPs are all standing as NUP flagbearers for the same constituencies they currently represent. For the 15 DP-held MP seats, FDC is fielding 10 candidates to try and snatch the seats, NUP is fielding 14 candidates, ANT is fielding five candidates while UPC is fielding none. 

For the seven parliamentary seats currently held by UPC, FDC is contesting three of them, ANT is contesting one of them while DP is contesting none. For the sole MP seat currently held by Jeema, MP Asuman Basalirwa who is a close associate of Kyagulanyi was saved from competition from NUP but FDC is fielding a candidate in Bugiri municipality.

FDC is only shielded from opposition competition in only nine out of 37 seats it currently holds. On the other hand, UPC is free from opposition competition in four out of its seven MP seats it currently holds while all of the 15 DP seats are being challenged by fellow opposition political parties. 

Speaking to the media shortly after his nomination to run for president, Norbert Mao, the President General of the Democratic Party, said the reason they decided to field candidates across the country even in opposition constituencies was the failure to agree on a single electoral platform. 

In an interview with Uganda Radio Network, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, the spokesperson of FDC said they tried to have talks especially with the leadership of the NUP, but they yielded to nothing because everyone wanted to become a candidate.

“It’s very hard to convince a person who has already decided to become a candidate out of the race,” Ssemujju told URN in a recent interview. Yusuf Serunkuma a political theorist based at Makerere University says many politicians are motivated not only by the desire to defeat NRM but mainly by monetary reasons. He says that politics in Uganda is now the biggest means through which to access resources and nobody is willing to leave for the other even when they profess having a similar agenda of ending the NRM and Museveni’s 35 year-long hold onto power.