Early this week, reports emerged that FDC strongwoman Proscovia Salaamu Musumba would face Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga in the Kamuli Woman MP race.
Musumba is the Vice Chairperson for Eastern region for main opposition party the Forum for Democratic Change while Kadaga is Speaker of Parliament.
Observers agree that the Kamuli woman parliamentary race will be a political clash to watch.
Musumba swapped her political interest from Kamuli Municipality (where she contested in the 2016 elections) for the Kamuli Woman MP seat.
Kadaga has represented Kamuli women in Parliament for years while Musumba previously served as the former Kamuli District Chairperson.
Musumba has since returned her expression of interest forms to Najjanankumbi, the seat of FDC, seeking nomination as flag bearer.
Likely to win nomination, Musumba will tussle out with one of the most powerful politicians in the land.
By virtue of her position as Speaker of Parliament, Kadaga is the head of the legislative arm of government and third in hierarchy.
In a telephone conversation with this The Pearl Times on Saturday, Musumba confirmed the reports of her interest in Kadaga’s seat.
“It’s true I am interested in the seat and I have already expressed my interest for the position within my party,” she said.
“It still remains a decision of the party to take but if they say ‘yes,’ then I will certainly go all the way to the ballot.”
But the Prime Minister of the People’s Government (PG) but downplayed allegations of political rivalry between her and the Speaker.
Musumba stressed that she had opted to run for the seat simply because her views and those of the speaker are different.
“Rivalry! Me and Kadaga! No. Everyone knows how close we have been. We have enjoyed a very friendly relationship and I feel that has not changed up to now,” Musumba told The Pearl Times.
“To be precise, I have no issues with Rebecca [Kadaga] as a person. I only have a different dream about the Kamuli i wish to see.”
She added that her decision to challenge Kadaga had no basis on emotions but was due to “a difference in beliefs and methodes of work between me and my elder sister.”
“To be precise, I have no issues with Rebecca [Kadaga] as a person. I only have a different dream about the Kamuli I wish to see.”
The Speaker of Parliament has already made her intention to push her reign in Kamuli for another five years known.
Kadaga has represented the same constituency since 1996. That means that by the time elections are held next year, Kadaga will have been an MP for Kamuli for 25 years.
Kadaga had also served in the post NRA bush war government as a Minister since 1989 before her election to the 1994-95Constituent Assembly (CA).
On most of the occasions since 1996, Kadaga had always had soft paths back to the house often brushing off relatively mediocre challenges.
These included Naigaga Kalikwani in the early 2000s and FDC’s Proscivia Naikoba Kanakutanda.
TOUGH TEST FOR KADAGA
But 2021 will however be an unprecedented challenge for the woman who has enjoyed political supremacy both in Kamuli and Busoga for decades.
This is a fact that must by now be running in Kadaga’s mind for a number of reasons.
Firstly, while being an MP for 25 years for the same constituency might mean popularity and supremacy, it is a loophole Musumba could use to her advantage.
In fact, the FDC heavyweight seems to have tactically waited and struck at just the right time.
Some in Kamuli wonder why Kadaga, powerful as she is, has insisted on fighting for a special interest group seat instead of trying a constituency seat.
Others look at her ‘overstaying’ in the Kamuli Woman MP seat as denying other women a chance to shine, and as a sign of ‘Kadaga’s insatiable appetite for power.’
Unlike the other opponents that have challenged Kadaga in the past, Musumba is an experienced political leader with a voice that is heard in all the corners of the district and beyond.
The first female to head a district local council in the country, Musumba set a record with her impeccable transparency and unquestionable service delivery.
She became a darling of the people of Kamuli.
Musumba is also praised for fearlessly fighting for fair compensation for the over 10,000 people whose land was taken for the construction of the Isimba Power Dam.
Musumba is also credited for effectively putting to use the donor funds that were used to build a superb tarmac road network, making Kamuli Town one of the most tarmacked towns in the country.
Besides, Musumba’s glorious days in the seventh Parliament left Kamuli residents thirsting for more from the most powerful woman in the opposition FDC.
As a young legislator, Musumba turned down the chance to eat big in Museveni’s cabinet – an opportunity that Kadaga held onto and the rest is now history.
In the process, the eternal Museveni critic whose democratic values couldn’t be compromised went in league with Col Kizza Besigye on a liberation journey that is still ongoing almost two decades later.
To many, hers is a character worthy cherishing.
As such, Kamuli voters saw it deserving that she gets rewarded with the district chairperson’s office in 2011, a position that had been a rare preserve for men in the country.
Throughout her reign, Kadaga has fought and won many wars on the political front, a fit that has awarded her an indomitable status at both the regional and national level.
She however faces Musumba at her weakest. Kadaga has fought many wars which will certainly make her vulnerable before a challenger of Musumba’s stature.
Musumba is a proven political strategist whose prior closeness to Kadaga will definitely place her in an advantageous position before an enemy whose strategies she has studied to perfection over the years.
Besides, the speaker has earned lots of political rivals in Busoga which will most likely gift Musumba with incidental allies ahead of the conquest.
Kadaga’s public antagonism with Minister Persis Namuganza in 2018 left behind a divided population in Busoga.
Besides Namuganza, the Speaker’s relationship with Justine Kasule Lumumba has been a frosty one yet Musumba has enjoyed a commendable closeness to NRM Secretary General (SG), only divided along political lines.
Naturally, Lumumba would be more comfortable with a friendly Musumba from the opposition than a hostile Kadaga though she is from NRM – the party she serves as administrative head.
It will therefore not be a surprise to see SG Lumumba directly or indirectly rooting for Musumba to have Kadaga ejected.
Musumba, just like Kadaga, is a true Kyabazinga loyalist.
She is on record for having been an invaluable force behind the coronation of the current Busoga King “Isebantu” Wilberforce Gabula Nadiope IV.
For this, Kyabazinga loyalists who have always waited for an opportunity to reward the FDC strongwoman might see this as a heaven sent one at the expense of Kadaga who many feel has been rewarded enough.
Musumba should however not take anything for granted. Kadaga has always been a queen of the political game, often shocking naysayers by turning her fortunes at such times when odds seem against her.
Her victories over perennial rivals Hajji Ahammed Kaugu Mugaino and Minister Ali Kirunda Kivejinja contain vital lessons she ought to revisit.
Musumba might be a tough challenger for Kadaga but there is a lot of work to be done if she is to finally realise her dream of kicking Busoga’s longest serving Member of Parliament out of the House she superintends over.