By Fred Wambede
The race for Kapchorwa Woman MP seat has always been shifting in the favour of only two aspirants since 2006.Ms Rukiya Kulany Chekamondo, commonly known as Mama Watoto (mother of children), joined the 8th Parliament in 2006.However, in 2011, she lost the seat to Ms Phylis Chemutai, popularly known as Chelelmo (good hearted).Ms Chekamondo, who formerly served as State Minister for Privatisation in the Ministry of Finance between 2006 and 2011, later bounced back in 2016.But as the 2021 General Election draws near, chances of Ms Chekamondo, the incumbent, to return to Parliament are on the line after she lost the NRM primary election to Ms Chemutai.Ms Chemutai polled 23,028 votes against Ms Chekamondo’s 16,358. Ms Chekamondo did not concede defeat and is now contesting as an independent.Another aspirant, Ms Jalia Seiko Chekasire, the daughter of Lt Col Juma Seiko, who got 3,131 votes, is also running as an indepedent .Mr Denis Kurong, a teacher and political strategist, says the battle for the seat has never been easy since 2006.“The two faces have camps on ground and both are popular; their names are always sang from every corner. This makes the race tough and interesting,” Mr Kurong says.DeterminantsHe says the factors determining the winner among the top two contenders include religion and culture, among others.Several residents say the Muslims have always voted Ms Chekamondo while Ms Chemutai has had support from the Christians.Ms Chekamondo alleged that the NRM primaries were marred with irregularities.She says she decided not to petition the NRM electoral commission after her supporters told her to run as an independent.“I lost because of malice and lies. I have unfinished business, including extension of power and water,” she adds.Regarding her achievements, Ms Chekamondo says she started a project of water harvesting from River Atari for farmers in 2018.She also boasts of lobbying for the tarmacking of the 73-kilometre Kapchorwa-Suam road during her tenure of 2006-2011.“I fought for that road to be included in the budget during my first regime in Parliament and now it is being tarmacked,” she says.However, Ms Chemutai says the odds have now changed. “My people want me to go back to Parliament for better representation,” she says.Ms Chemutai says while in Parliament between 2011 and 2016, she supported health centres through acquiring land, lobbied for an ambulance and lightning arresters at Kapchorwa main hospital.“I also supported infrastructure development through opening up feeder roads and women and youth groups,” she says. Her supporters also praise her for being generous.“She has maintained her relationship with the needy through visiting the sick and prisoners. She shares with them food. She is a good mother,” Ms Ms Jane Chelimo, a supporter, says. Advertisement
However, Mr Samson Taboswo, a campaign agent of Ms Juliet Cheboyeyin, another aspirant running as an Independent, says the race’s dynamics have changed.“People are starting to embrace change, we have a new entrant, Cheboyeyin, who is slowly selling her manifesto and people have accepted her,” he says.Mr Philip Arosho, the NRM flag bearer for the district youth chairperson, says Ms Cheboyeyin’s entry has put the NRM camps under threat.“I have been on the ground and people are tired of the old ‘tigers’. They want fresh blood,” he said.Ms Cheboyeyin says if elected, she will ensure that services are brought closer to people. “I am going to offer better leadership and representation through mobilising the communities to achieve economic development,” she says.Ms Cheboyeyin, who has been on ground since 2018, has so far organised health camps, mentored and supported youth to start up projects in agriculture, among others and also participated in fundraising campaigns in various sub-counties.Ms Seiko says voters still face challenges in health and education sectors which the incumbent has neglected.“I want to be a voice of my people. We have only one hospital, which is not fully equipped yet my people vote for the NRM party overwhelmingly,” she says.In Kaserem Sub-county, which normally has a block vote, the pundits say the area has always given Ms Chekamondo 80 per cent support.However, Mr Kurong says the area has been infiltrated by commercialisation of politics.“Rukiya has not consolidated that area. She has been relaxed. You have to be closer to the voters such that they believe in you. She looks like she is losing grip,” he says.But Ms Chekamondo maintains that the voters still want her to represent them.“They told me they we want me. I am still popular there. They have been calling me for meetings,” she says.Mr Martin soyekwo, a resident of Sipi Sub-county, says money is an important determinant factor in the politics of Sebei.“The aspirants have mastered the game of last minute campaigns, where they lure voters with money. That lower belt (Kaserem) is unpredictable when money is brought,” he says.Origin of rivalryBut the ideology of political camps in the district has been manifesting since the Constituent Assembly in 1996.Maj (Rtd) Leonard Chemonges and Mr Shephen Chebrot cemented a fierce rivalry until 2006. Maj Chemonges is still battling for Kapchorwa Municipality seat while Mr Chebrot is Uganda’s ambassador to Qatar. Mr Kurong says the duo set a precedent which their female counterparts have adopted.“Ms Chekamondo and Ms Chemutai have been riding on that history. They have created some strong supporters who believe in them. In order for such an era to end, a strong candidate must emerge, camp on ground and decampaign them,” he says.Mr Kurong says Ms Cheboyeyin and her colleagues need the financial capacity and solid ideas if they are to bring down the two popular faces.“She (Cheboyeyin) has started recruiting people. I even know some of the serious campaign agents who have joined her camp. She must create structures and sustain them. If she has a pool of money, she will disorganise the electorate,” he says.Mr John Mangusho, a resident of Kaserem, said the electorate in the area have always voted for Ms Chekamondo.“Chekamondo has always dominated in Kaserem Sub-county for many years because majority of the population are Muslims,” he says.However, political analysts say it is not clear whether the new entrants will be able to break the 14- year reign of Ms Chekamondo and Ms Chemutai. About the aspirantsMs Chemutai Phyllis was born in 1962 in Bukwo District. She holds a diploma in education and a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from Kyambogo University. She rose to prominence in 2011 when she defeated Ms Rukiya Kulany Chekamondo.Ms Rukiya Kulany Chekamondo was born in 1965. She is the incumbent MP and formerly served as State minister for Privatisation in the Ministry of Finance. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Makerere. Ms Jalia Seiko Chekasire, 36, a daughter of Lt Col Juma Seiko, is contesting as an independent after she lost in NRM primaries. She has a degree in Computer Science from Makerere University.Ms Juliet Cheboyeyin, Cheboyeyin is aged 44 years and has been working with Uganda Revenue Authority for nearly 20 years. She has a Bachelor’s degree. She is an independent.