Candidates defect to Uganda’s ruling party; Bahati rival cites safety concerns

Sometimes, politicians in the US change party affiliation (e.g., Arlen Spector’s switch from the GOP to Dem), but this is not common. In Uganda, it seems to be happening more frequently as the elections approach. This report notes that three politicians associated with the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) have either dropped out or changed parties.

President Museveni’s recent campaigns in parts of western Uganda herald doom for the opposition’s prospects of winning in an area that has previously overwhelmingly voted for the ruling party. The President last week campaigned in Bushenyi, Kisoro, Kabale, Kanungu, Buhweju, Mitooma, Rubirizi, Kiruhura and Mbarara, and while the IPC flag bearer, Dr Kizza Besigye, is yet to campaign here, the picture isn’t rosy for his coalition.

President Museveni has always convincingly won in western Uganda, but it was hoped that Besigye would make inroads in the area that is also his home.

During Museveni’s campaigns, at least three FDC parliamentary aspirants withdrew from the race, ensuring easy victory for Beatrice Rusaniya (Kiruhura district woman), Flavia Rwabuhoro (Kyegegwa woman), Atwaib Katooto (Katerera constituency), and David Bahati (Ndorwa West).

Citing concerns over his safety, Bahati’s rival, Serapio Biryaba, claimed he couldn’t continue in the race.

At a Museveni rally in Katerera, FDC’s Vereriano Tukahebwa withdrew in favour of Katooto, saying he had found it hard to canvass for Besigye’s support in the area.

“People were giving me support but I could not convince the masses to vote for Besigye. I realised that if I continued with FDC, all my programmes would not kick off,” he said.

Rusaniya also sailed through after FDC’s Dorcus Mpinda renounced her membership of the FDC at another rally in Kiruhura district.

It is not clear, nor have I heard through the grapevine why Bahati’s opponent was scared from the campaign.

Speaking of David Bahati, the author of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, here is another report regarding Bahati’s business dealings.

He is known as the young vibrant Christian legislator who proposed tough laws against homosexuality in the Ugandan parliament and he is loathed by many international human rights groups for exactly those proposals. He is David Bahati, Member of Parliament for Ndorwa West county. Yet, famous as he is for the anti-homosexuality bill, not many people knew that Bahati is also an extremely rich man who does business worth millions of dollars. That is, until the troubles of the Ugandan businessmen in Southern Sudan surfaced.

Since 2008, many Ugandan businessmen have been supplying different types of produce – mainly grain – to the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), with the understanding that they would be paid back by the Southern Sudanese Ministry of Finance. But, so far, GOSS has defaulted on those obligations. Consequently, many Ugandan businessmen have been forced out of business. Their only recourse has been to appeal to the Ugandan government to apply diplomatic pressure to the GOSS to ensure that the businessmen are repaid for their investments. Documents show that Bahati is among these businessmen.

However, the whole affair grew more intriguing after the Ugandan Government got involved. Under an apparent agreement, the Ugandan government undertook to pay the traders and will collect the money from GOSS at a later date.

In total, record show that there are seventy-one companies and individuals owed money from GOSS, but of these, only 16 companies are said to have been paid by the Ugandan authorities. And of these 16 companies, three of them, Kalmart Enterprises, Jam Jang Company Limited and Nile Side Company Limited, belong to MP David Bahati. The three companies are reported to have been repaid $2.6 million for supplying grain to Southern Sudan by the Ugandan government.

The article then tells a story of unpaid grain transactions involving Southern Sudan and leaving some traders homeless as the result of lack of payment. To his credit, Bahati at least spoke to the Kampala Dispatch about the matter, whereas the others involved refused. Perhaps Mr. Bahati can leave his antigay efforts for awhile and help these homeless traders get their compensation.