In today's Observer, Edris Kiggundu reports about Dr. Kizza Besigye's electrifying reception in Mbale and it's neighbourhood.
The IPC flag bearer, Dr Kizza Besigye, has made a good impression on Bugisu sub-region, with what has been described as his biggest rally so far held in Mbale municipality on Monday.
Since the early morning hours, a group of Kadodi dancers had been making rounds within the municipality, sweeping the roads as they warmed up the atmosphere in preparation for Besigye’s arrival.
When it clocked 4pm, this group was joined by other FDC enthusiasts who camped at the clock tower roundabout – one of the major landmarks in Mbale town- to clear the way for their candidate’s convoy. For about one hour, this group scrutinised each vehicle that passed by.
The password was to simply flash FDC’s V sign, or chant any of the FDC slogans. Drivers that broke the rules, like the driver of a pick-up truck pasted with President Museveni’s posters, faced harassment at the hands of the FDC supporters.
At the main rally at Mbale Secondary School playground, Besigye was moved by this show of support and the mammoth crowd that turned up to receive him.
“Whenever I come to Mbale, I feel at home,” he told the crowd. “I am the president of Mbale and when Museveni comes here, he is a visitor.”
Besigye’s Bugisu campaign strategy here seems to have been designed to negate any gains that the NRM could have made.
Throughout his campaigns here, he was accompanied by Mbale municipality MP Jack Wamai and Budadiri West legislator Nandala Mafabi. The FDC Vice President for Western Uganda, Nuwe Amanya Mushega, also re-joined the trail in Bugisu, having earlier made an appearance in Busoga.
In Bududa, Mushega asked those who had benefitted from the ‘Prosperity for All Programme’ to raise their hand, but no one did.
“This government has taken you for granted. It promises things it cannot deliver. If you want an efficient and effective government, vote for the IPC and you will see change in your life,” said Mushega, who for long served as education minister under the NRM.
Besigye said Mafabi had performed better than government, in his role as chairman of the Parliament Accounts Committee, by working towards a graft free country.
“You show me anyone who has been prosecuted after being pinned by the CHOGM report,” Besigye said in Bududa Town Council on Tuesday.
At Bulucheke sub-country headquarters, still in Bududa, Besigye criticised government’s response to the Bududa mudslides which occurred early in the year and claimed more than 200 lives.
His campaign message was largely the same wherever he went, emphasising what his government shall do if elected, while at the same time criticising some of the government policies which he said have not helped the people.
On his part, Mafabi scoffed at attempts by government to arrest him over claims that he mismanaged the Bugisu Cooperative Union (BCU) which he chairs. He said ever since he started fighting graft in Parliament, government has tried to look for ways of curtailing him, hence the latest false accusations.
“I am ready to face the President and tell him off. There is nothing for me to fear because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.
Despite the good reception, FDC’s work is still well cut out, particularly deep in the rural areas. The NRM enjoys support at the lowest levels of administration (LC) where IPC have failed to field candidates.
Mafabi told The Observer that the performance of the FDC will greatly improve in the 2011 elections, adding that they hope to wrestle the whole sub-region from the NRM.
“Even you can see there is a big change here. People have abandoned the NRM because of its lies. They know that when it promises to do something, it will not deliver,” Mafabi said in Manafwa on Tuesday.