Government just backed off a move to block the nomination of Erias Lukwago for the Kampala City mayorship.
While some think the move was initiated by the Presidency and Kampala minister, Frank Tumwebaze, all indicators point to President Yoweri Museveni.
It’s the brutal arrest of Lukwago and the subsequent bloody scuffle between Lukwago’s supporters and the Police that compelled government’s tactical withdraw by allowing the nomination of Lukwago.
The state feared that the masses in Kampala could escalate the agitation in support of Lukwago yet the city is poised to host the Pope in two weeks’ time.
Erias Lukwago won the Kampala Mayorship after a repeat of the elections following what analysts termed as “daylight rigging”.
Tumwebaze working on orders of his boss vowed never to allow Lukwago to access the Mayoral office and indeed security forces mounted a permanent seal off of the Mayor’s office.
Museveni had already created and filled the position of Executive Director for Kampala City Authority who assumed the powers of the Lord Mayor.
He created a Ministry and appointed a Minister for Kampala City who together with the ED coordinated to deny the elected Lord Mayor access to his office.
Now that his term of office is coming to an end without ever accessing his office, Lukwago’s popularity has doubled.
To avoid another defiant election victory by Lukwago, government thought to amend the law so that the Mayor of Kampala is not directly elected by residents of Kampala through adult suffrage but by an electoral college of a few City Council Councillors who are easy to manipulate, blackmail, intimidate and bribe.
The Electoral Commission issued an unfortunate statement cancelling the nomination of the Kampla City Mayoral position pending directives of the Minister In-charge of Kampala.
Unfortunately, the scheme had been hastily plotted when aspirant Lukwago had already returned his nomination papers to the Electoral Commission and had been afforded a nomination appointment that was scheduled for 16th Nov, 2015.
He vowed to defiantly ignore the irregular cancellation to proceed to the Electoral Commission offices for nomination as earlier scheduled.
He went ahead to invite his supporters to turn up in big numbers for the occasion.
Erias Lukwago is considered to be the Kampala Zonal Commander of Team Defiance whose overall Commander is the opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye.
Security tactically issued a terror alert as a smoke screen to block Lukwago and his supporters from proceeding to the Electoral Commission offices as planned.
They feared that such a procession if allowed could escalate and trigger off the much anticipated civil disobedience at a time the city is preparing to host the Pope.
Lukwago and his supporters were not deterred by the empty threats thus the brutal arrest and confrontation with the regime Police that left several injured.
It is reported that later on the government rescinded its earlier decision and allowed Erias Lukwago to be nominated.
Lukwago’s last hour nomination is a loss of a battle and not the war.
It was a mere tactical withdraw and once the Pope’s visit is over, government will attack again and deal a decisive blow on Lukwago unless the later remains in the trenches while maintaining a high level of combat readiness (standby class one).
The illegalities don’t matter because under Museveni, the rule of law is non-existent.
On the other hand, Lukwago’s insistence and the backing down by the regime is a test of the campaign of defiance as advocated for by Dr. Besigye and group.
Sarah Nalukenge, the author, is a social and political commentator