KAMPALA: “God has spoken, the people of Mityana have won!” Invoking the millennia old Roman philosophy of “Vox populi vox Dei” meaning that the voice of the people is the voice of God was all Lands minister Judith Nabakooba could say soon after court nullified the election of her rival Joyce Bagala for the Mityana district Woman seat.
And with the ruling, National Unity Platform has suffered another temporary setback as its third member gets put out of parliamentary action by court ruling. Two NUP MPs, Muhamad Ssegiriinya and Allan Sewanyana are in jail, battling serious charges of murder arising out of the machete killings that engulfed Greater Masaka a month earlier.
The ruling over Mityana Woman seat is significant as it is the first significant victory by a petitioner in the wave of election petitions arising out of the January general elections. Courts have been dismissing most petitions, but the Mityana case seems to be different.
Immediately after the elections, President Museveni, who is the centre of all government-collected intelligence, only singled out the Mityana District Woman race as he accused the opposition of rigging. And Nabakooba confidently indicated in court that even before adducing evidence, she knew that her opponent had bribed voters.
The two women are now set for another bruising battle in the by-election, since in Uganda even the petition loser, despite being indirectly found by court to have violated the law, is allowed to stand again. And Mityana is now a NUP/Opposition stronghold so despite her personal popularity, Nabakooba has a tough campaign ahead of her.
When her opponent was declared winner in January, the district witnessed paradoxical reactions as multitudes of mostly women voters who were heartbroken, spontaneously trooped to Nabakooba’s home to “apologise” for the outcome of the elections. This was on account of Nabakooba’s constituent programmes of economically empowering the rural poor and fighting for victims of land grabbing. Will they express their apology with votes in the by-elections?