By Herbert Kamuntu
The recently concluded NRM Primary Member of Parliament (MP) elections in Sheema South Constituency, resulted in a narrow win for the incumbent MP, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu (PEK).
He edged his closest rival Prof. Elijah Mushemeza (PEM) by 94 votes and in close third came Mr. Nickson Banduho who trailed Prof Mushemeza by 37 votes. It was an extremely close contest with the top 3 contenders being separated by less than 150 votes.
Despite all the irregularities and electoral fraud committed against Prof Kamuntu, he still emerged victorious. The election was marred by violence, voter intimidation, accusations and counter accusations from all sides.
As someone who was closely involved in the elections, I would like to share my viewpoint in order to clear some falsehoods that have been spread.
Last day of Campaigns
On the last official day of campaigns, a number of incidents occurred in the constituency.
Mr. Banduho’s supporters held a rally with campaign convoys driving through the constituency contravening COVID-19 SOPs. In the excitement that ensued two vehicles were involved in nasty accidents injuring supporters. After these incidents, the Resident District Commissioner deployed police and the army to calm the situation.
As law enforcers arrived on the scene, supporters of Mr. Banduho jumped off a truck and one of them, Mr. Tumuhimbise, got trampled upon by his colleagues. Unfortunately, he later died from the injuries sustained. May his soul rest in peace.
Policy and Army called in
As the army and police tried to calm the situation, Mr. Banduho’s supporters confronted them and in the ensuing fracas two of them got shot in the leg. In a related incident, while addressing people in Kitagata Town Centre, Prof. Mushemeza noticed that his address was being recorded by a lady, Madam Nice, a supporter of Prof. Kamuntu in her shop across the street.
Prof. Mushemeza raced across the street, confronted Madam Nice, physically assaulted her, and in the ensuing chaos another supporter got badly injured.
Madam Nice was also treated for injuries sustained. There were many other incidents but these two are worth mentioning.
Voting day chaos
On the day of voting, chaos marred the elections with people being ferried in from outside the constituency by both Prof. Mushemeza and Mr. Banduho in Kasana Sub County and Shuuku Town Council respectively.
At several polling station agents of Mr. Banduho engaged in endless, meaningless debates in an aim to delay/disrupt voting. A tactic they deployed successfully at some polling stations.
In polling stations neigbouring each another, they deliberately caused confusion in one thus delaying the voting to start, so that they could finish voting in one station and then proceed en-mass to polling stations that had delayed and also vote there. Security was stretched thin on the day and were unable to deploy everywhere.
At some polling stations where debates got more heated, police arrived and their presence allowed voting to proceed normally. The Presidential directive the previous day allowing everyone to vote as long as they were identifiable at the local level encouraged non NRM members and underage voters, etc to come to polling stations to try and vote and in some cases they voted. Polling
Registrars were also compromised, in one incident, a Sub county registrar tried to run away with declaration forms, but security intercepted him and escorted him to the District tally centre.
Sheema District tally centre was responsible for compiling results of four different MP candidates:
1) District Woman MP, NRM
2) Sheema Municipality MP, NRM
3) Sheema North MP, NRM
4) Sheema South MP NRM
Tallying of results began with the District Woman MP vote count at around 6.00 pm and was only concluded at around 2.00 am the following morning.
Meanwhile, Mr. Banduho had gone onto NBS TV and announced himself winner with 10,000 votes and that his opponents had got 7,000 each. This resulted into a media frenzy and the media was awash with false stories of how Prof Kamuntu, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs had lost an election.
The Women’s count saw Hon. Rosemary Nyakikongoro defeat the incumbent, Hon. Atuhaire Jacklet by 3,269 votes. After which the District Register carried out the SheemaMunicipality count, Dickson Kateshumba (56.1%) defeated the incumbent, Hon. Elioda Tumwesigye, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation by over 7,000 votes.
This followed the count for Sheema North where the incumbent Naume Kibaaju (50.2%) defeated her main challengers Mr. Taboora Didas and Mr. Arthur Mugisha by over 7,000 votes.
Sheema Municipality and Sheema North counts went ahead without any incident.
Tallying of results for Sheema South started at around 6.00 a.m. in the morning of September 5, 2020. Before the count commenced at the tally centre, Prof. Kamuntu raised preliminary irregularities that had occurred during voting to the District Registrar.
The irregularities included forged declaration forms, multiple voting and voter intimidation, amongst others. The registrar noted the concerns and sought guidance from the Chairman, NRM Electoral Commission – Dr. Tanga Odoi, who advised candidates with grievances to petition later and the District Registrar proceeded with the vote counting. After counting, as the Registrar proceeded to announce the results, Prof. Mushemeza stood up and accused the tallying team of having manipulated the results in the computer.
Chaos broke out in the tally centre making it impossible for the Registrar to complete his announcements. Security officials intervened and restored calm in the room. The Registrar then advised the candidates to manually cross check the results per sub- county and provided them with a hard copy of the computer generated tally results and advised that if any of them picked up any anomalies to bring them to his attention. This process was completed by 12.00 noon. No anomaly was picked up by anybody. Quietly, both Prof. Mushemeza and Mr. Banduho and their agents left the tally centre without a word, after realizing that they had indeed lost the election that had the following results:
Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu:
Prof. Elijah Dickens Mushemeza: Mr. Nickson Tugume Banduho Eng. Yorokamu Katwiremu
10,553 (31.6%) 10,460 (31.3%) 10,421 (31.2%)
Mr. Moses Mwebesa
Mr. Benson Tumuhimbise Total Votes cast
Announcing Winner delayed
552 (1.7%) 207 (0.6%) 33,412 (100%)
Dr. Tanga Odoi, advised the District Registrar to await him to announce the outcome. The District Registrar provided all the candidates with a print out of the tallying done per polling station.
Fabricated stories become sensational
As we awaited Dr. Tanga Odoi, false stories were being spread throughout the constituency and media. Rumours were being spread causing anxiety and tension in the constituency. Both Mr. Banduho and Prof. Mushemeza informed their supporters and the media that they had won. Stories that ran in the media and on twitter that there were 5 recounts were all sensational fabricated lies. There were rumours that the results had been cancelled, etc etc. However, what can’t be denied is that it was indeed a very close race.
Opponents supporters turn violent
On Sunday, September 6, 2020, Prof. Kamuntu’s Team and Prof. Mushemeza’s supporters went to the District HQs to witness announcing of the winner. Meanwhile, Mr. Banduho’s supporters ganged up in Kabwohe Town looking to cause chaos. In one incident a mob dragged a Prof. Kamuntu supporter out of a taxi bound to Mbarara and proceeded to beat him into a coma. He was then bundled into their ambulance with instructions given to the driver to take the Kamuntu supporter to Shuuku to burn him. However, the ambulance driver instead drove to the Kabwohe Police Station and the police offered the victim safe custody. These hooligans continued looking for Prof. Kamuntu supporters in Kabwohe Town as they confronted police which called for army backup. Sanity prevailed when the army arrived and the hooligans started dispersing, most of them driving off to Mbarara.
Prof. Kamuntu Announced Winner
Dr. Tanga Odoi, eventually came, confirmed the accuracy of the results and announced Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu winner for Sheema South Constituency NRM MP Flag Bearer for the 2021 election.
Call for Unity
The defeated opponents should honourably concede and work towards strengthening our party.
They put up a hard and spirited fight but in every contest there is a winner and loser and now is the time for us to unite and strongly take on the opposition in the forthcoming national elections.
Herbert Kamuntu B.Eng(Hons), MBA, Dip CIM.
The writer is a Member of Prof Kamuntu’s Election Task Force.