Inside Story: Why NRM lost Jinja

help geneva; font-size: small;”>Last week, IGP Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura rushed to a Jinja Hotel where he held a serious security meeting.

He was on orders from President Yoweri Museveni to ensure maximum security during elections.

State House sources say Museveni and his NRM strategists were very confident their candidate Nathan Igeme Nabeta would win because of two reasons.

One was that Nabeta would be fully facilitated with Shs700m. The NRM also banked on a split of votes between FDC’s Paul Mwiru and DP’s Alex Waiswa Mufumbiro. Little did they know that the DP candidate was so unpopular! No wonder he managed a paltry 291 votes.

Therefore Kayihura, in his meeting with Eastern Uganda security chiefs, emphasized the need to beef up security and not to hesitate arresting any wrong doers or potential criminals who would disrupt the election.

Jinja Police Station DPC Jonathan Musinguzi was to head security alongside top CID officials from Kampala.

All RDCs in Eastern Uganda were mandated to show up during the elections to facilitate Nabeta’s win.

Museveni thought FDC candidate Paul Mwiru’s supporters would use violence to rig elections since Eastern Uganda is an opposition stronghold. That’s why he placed his most-trusted man Kayihura to take charge.


Kayihura was ordered to deploy anti-riot police personnel during day time and heavily armed military police at the time of vote counting. This is what happened.

By 5pm, anti-riot cops had been replaced by the military to take full charge of security.

They could pull the trigger with ease to suppress even a jubilating crowd.

Lands Minister Daudi Migereko and Luuka Member of Parliament Johnson Bagoole were in charge of political mobilization. They had orders from above to ensure a landslide win.

With all the necessary security and political arrangements in place and cash flowing, all Museveni needed was to address a few rallies.

On Tuesday, he told voters not to send Mwiru to Parliament, saying he was not the right candidate to represent the Constituency as he heaped praises on Nabeta.


After realizing NRM was working round the clock to scoop the election, opposition suspended the walk to work campaign to concentrate on wooing support for Mwiru.

All top opposition leaders including Salaam Musumba, Alice Alaso, Nandala Mafabi, Moses Byamugisha, Kizza Besigye, Mugisha Muntu among others stormed the area to canvass support for Mwiru.

They walked from door to door, shop to shop, used local radios and held night meetings at homes of opinion leaders to inspire opposition supporters to turn up in large number on the poll day.

During this mobilization, opposition supporters were told not to leave the polling stations after voting but keep around to safe guard their votes.

This explains why opposition supporters woke up very early in the morning to head off ballot stuffing and also kept an eye on the ballot boxes till the end of tallying.

The opposition top shots also took charge of the explosive areas.

For example Muntu and Mafabi were physically manning security of Masese polling stations where rigging was highly expected.

Moses Byamugisha, an FDC youth leader, was in charge of Main Street polling Station.

Muntu was commanding the entire security of the polling stations. He coordinated with agents using three mobile phones just in case network became problematic.

He even had spare phone batteries!

The former army commander roared as he gave firm instructions to his agents. “He gave military-like orders to agents. Jinja looked like a battle-field,” an opposition agent recounts.

Muntu also ensured his agents had lunch on time to avoid freebies from NRM agents. The NRM poll agents were yawning. They never had a single meal till the end of the tallying!

The presence of Muntu and Besigye on the battle field sent ripples down the spines of NRM strategists who reportedly wanted to rig the elections.

They also inspired opposition supporters to come out and vote without fear of the deployed security personnel.


Information coming in also indicates Museveni annoyed voters during his rallies on Tuesday. He reportedly told residents he didn’t know they were putting up in timber houses. This could have worked in favour of opposition leaders who promised to uplift the standards of living in the region once Mwiru is elected.

That aside, Mwiru is an orator and a ‘person of the people.” He socializes with his constituents.

Mwiru is also down to earth while Nabeta presents himself before the electorate as an urban-based, highly-connected intellectual.

Constituents were shocked when he was floored in court for lack of adequate academic documents.

One can not overlook the facts that opposition managed to take full charge of the social and print media.

The likes of Anne Mugisha, Moses Byamugisha among others used Twitter and Facebook to woo support for Mwiru. Not a single NRM official used the popular platforms to drum up support for Nabeta!

Even at the last minute, opposition chaps used the social media to announce they won the elections and were therefore waiting for the official communication from the Electoral Commission.


Jinja town looks like a ghost city. The once industrial city is no different from the shambles of Mogadishu. The youth are jobless, the rate of prostitution among girls has skyrocketed, the school dropout rate is steadily increasing as poverty bites every family.

The defeat was a reminder to NRM to pull up their socks and boost the economic status of the town dwellers. Reliance on guns and cash at the last minute is shooting oneself in the foot.

All people want are developmental projects not empty promises.

According to an opposition supporter Joseph Tumushabe, “whenever we zero in to smaller unit area elections such as single constituency bi-elections, the local citizens are empowered by the national machinery of all parties, rendering guns and money-bags less effective.”

He concludes: “It is under such circumstances of a more level playing field that Museveni and company are no match for Besigye’s team and the will of the people. It is in this light that Mwiru’s victory in Jinja ought to be viewed.”

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