The National Resistance Movement (NRM), the largest and ruling political party in Uganda, is preparing for the 2021 general elections by electing persons to represent them in the national elections at different levels.
The concluded National Delegates Conference held at each of the district headquarters approved the endorsement of President Yoweri Museveni as national chairperson and presidential flag bearer. It elected members of Central Executive Committee.
Now the party is looking at selecting through the NRM party primaries individuals to contest in the general elections as Members of Parliament (MPs) and district local council leaders. MP slots are expected to be highly contested.
The ruling party will take no chances as it looks forward to retaining their majority representation in parliament. They cannot afford to lose even a single slot and for that matter, it will be looking at fronting the strongest candidate who then will battle contenders from other political parties or independents.
Kampala, the epicentre of Uganda’s politics, has some interesting races but being a predominantly an opposition stronghold, Kampala Central, a constituency that has never fallen in the hands of the opposition, has attracted some interesting young candidates at party level.
Poor Youth Coming For Nsereko’s Kampala Central
Kampala Central is occupied by Muhammad Nsereko, currently an independent but a known NRM person. In fact, he was an NRM candidate the first time he contested and won to become MP. He hasn’t expressed intent to reclaim his NRM cap preferring to remain independent.
In the party primaries race, Kampala Central has attracted Kato Isa, famously known for his activism with NRM Poor Youth, Cedric Babu Ndlima, the son Francis Babu and others who will be gunning to capture the blessings of the party.
In an interview with News Today Uganda, Kato Isa comes off as the winning formula that the party needs to reclaim the constituency from an unreliable NRM leaning independent Nsereko.
Kato, has been an active member of NRM right from the university days and at the village level. He resides in William village, Nakasero parish, Kampala.
"I was the general secretary Makerere University NRM Chapter. When I came out, I concentrated on working and getting more education abroad. When I came back, in 2014, we started the NRM Poor Youth. We did a lot of activism. We were majoring in rooting for rule of law, fighting corruption and empowering the youth," he said.
Through activism under NRM Poor Youth, Kato and his colleagues caused reforms in the party and governments. To date, they are still active fighting corruption in government institutions like Bank of Uganda but they feel the time to upgrade from activism to policymaking is now hence his pursuit to become MP.
"You know being an activist means that you have a cause and as NRM Poor Youth we had a cause and it doesn’t end at just that, being an activist. Now we need to also influence decisions.
We have been pushing but there is somewhere where decisions are made, that is where I want to go, the parliament, and take these activism ideas there. We all know the powers that parliament has – everything has to be implemented, supervised and audited in parliament and that is where we need to go right now.”
I Am A Strong Candidate In A Strong Party
Kato is confident that NRM can retain Kampala Central because it is strong with majority voters. “I can give you an example. We have 136 villages and 90 per cent of the chairpersons of these villages are NRM. That gives us the leverage to feel in charge of the city,” he explains.
But with this support and base, Kato believes that the incumbent who enjoys the perks of the party in power has given the electorates a raw deal.
“He is just an MP who keeps in the media but on the ground, we feel that there has been a very big gap which he created within the leadership of Kampala who he should be working with because they are stakeholders.
In the ten years, he has been in parliament, he has never held village meetings to consult, even at parish level – we have 20 parishes – he has never held a meeting to consult. He has abandoned his electorates,”
Kato says he is a strong candidate compared to others and he has premised his manifesto on developing a city that doesn’t compromise its residents. This, he says, requires working together and consulting all stakeholders whose lives and survival are connected to the decisions made by the city leadership.
Boda Bodas, Markets And Education
For example, on the issue of boda boda operating in Kampala, Kato sees no reason why they should be chased out of the city but instead provided lanes in which they can operate without inconveniencing others.
"Why wouldn’t the city physical planners put up walkways and cycling lanes instead of chasing away people. The country is only planning for car drivers; so, I want to advocate for the construction of walkways.
We can work with the technical planning team at KCCA because the plans are there but have not been implemented. Then we can have cycling lanes, these can give us a breather,”
By the look of things, we shouldn’t expect Kato to advocate for the chasing of boda boda riders out of the city anytime soon. The other key issue in Kampala is the fate of markets. He says that markets are catalysts of development and government should apply the method of zoning so that development is spread across the city and shared.
Kato’s other big ideas are the education sector where he wants to improve academic and sports performance; tourism is something where he wants to tap into by promoting tourist attraction sites in the city and the introduction of themed festivals.