Hours to voting day on August 11 and Bukimbiri by-election has turned out to be a high stakes affair where past promises have come to haunt candidates.
The race has attracted five main contenders include Mutabaazi Edward IND, Asigario Turyagyenda IND, Eddie Kwizera NRM, James Owebeyi FDC and NUP’s Joshua Mutabaazi who along the way stepped aside and opted support for FDC’s Owebeyi.
As we draw nearer to the voting day, there are pertinent issues each candidate feels should be addressed in Bukimbiri Constituency.
Asigalio Turyagyenda, the NRM independent, claims the NRM party primaries were marred with several irregularities that included ferrying voters and allowing everybody to vote despite not being in the NRM party register.
He says that there is a public outcry on impassable roads which need to be worked on, to ease transportation of agricultural produce and the unfulfilled pledges of electricity and extension of piped water. He says he intends to treat these as priorities once he is in office.
Turyagyenda says that if he is elected he will make sure that he lobbies for a health centre IV and a hospital in the constituency to improve healthcare for people in Bukimbiri.
FDC’s youthful James Owebeyi, is disappointed with the quality of schools in Bukimbiri. He says that schools need new buildings that can accommodate not just learners but also staff. He argues that he has plan for providing girls in school sanitary pads.
Meanwhile Independent Edward Mutabaazi, says his emphasis will be more on setting up farmers markets so that traders from Congo and Kisoro can easily transact business.
“Farmers more especially the women suffer with impassable roads and there produce rot along the way to Kisoro and the best solution is to construct a modern market for them,” Mutabaazi explains.
NRM’s Eddie Kwizera Wa’gahungu has accumulated his wealth in tourism business and wants to expand the sector so that more residents can benefit like he has.
Kwizera’s main proposition is to open up new roads in the hilly Bukimbiri area and this will ease tourism business in the area.
Kwizera walk to victory has been disrupted by his fallout with fellow NRM MPs Niyezimana John Kamara, Nsaba Buturo and Paul Kwizera Bucanayandi.
Regional watchers trace the fall out to a few years back, when legislator John Kamara was the sole supplier of tea seedling to Kisiizi Tea Farmers. This deal was suspended after the Kwizera petitioned government to investigate the alleged exploitation of the local farmers by Kamara and since then the two legislators do not see eye to eye.
There is also the issue of 6.8 billion compensation for 168 acre piece of land in Nyakabade. In 2017 the government had plans to construct John Kale University of science and technology in the memory of John Kalekeezi Muhima, the father of former IGP Kale Kayihura.
Amongst the people who claimed ownership of the land, was Paul Bucanayandi Kwizera the current Kisoro municipality MP, but Eddie Kwizera the then Bufumbira East MP petitioned parliament and it stopped the 6.8 billion compensation citing irregularities in Nyakabanda land ownership. The two leaders have been at odds since.
Bernard Mbereyinka, a political commentator in Kisoro district, argues that Kwizera’s victory is not a foregone conclusion because many youth see this election as a chance for change.
“He was MP of Bufumbira East county for several years and he is the same person standing for Bukimbiri County, I think it is not realistic, let him leave for others,” says Mbereyinka many youth argue.
Nonetheless, Kwizera enjoys the support of the NRM party as its flag bearer in the race. NRM big wigs like Richard Jim Muhwezi, Chris Baryomunsi Tadwong, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja and the vice president Jessica Alupo have all been on the campaign trail urging voters to select Kwizera.
The race seems to be between Kwizera and Independent but NRM leaning candidate Asigalio Turyagyenda