Political defection has always been the culture in Uganda which started way back in 1964 when the then Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Basil Bataringaya, surprised many Ugandans when he abandoned the Democratic Party and along with several DP MPs and crossed to the then ruling party Uganda People’s Congress (UPC).
Some politicians who have crossed to other political parties have lost their popularity but some have instead gained momentum to spike higher their political career.
Here are some politicians who have managed to overwhelmingly benefit from their defection;
While in the Democratic Party, Mutagamba was the deputy secretary-general however in 2000 she crossed to NRM saying that DP lacked internal democracy and had been turned into a club for a clique.
When she crossed to NRM, immediately in 2000, she was appointed minister of state for water resources and later in 2006 was appointed minister of water and the environment until 2012.
She became the President of the African Ministers’ Council on Water from 2004 to 2012 and coordinator of the Global Women Leaders Forum for Water and Sanitation from 2005 to 2012. She was also the vice-chairperson of the United Nations Task Force on Integrated Water Resource Management.
She is known for her works for the cause of water-related issues and the Global Water Harvesting Network. Mutagamba served as minister of tourism, wildlife and antiquities from 15 August 2012 until on 6 June 2016 when she was replaced by Ephraim Kamuntu. While she was minister, she was known for promoting a popular Ugandan egg, vegetable, and chapati wrap known as Rolex.
She also revived the Miss Tourism Uganda beauty pageant that had started in 2010. Mutagamba died in 2017 due to complications from liver cancer. One would ask if Mutagamba had not crossed to NRM would she have archived all this?
2. Hajji Nasser Ntege Sebaggala
Before crossing to NRM, Sebaggala was a staunch DP member and gained political popularity in the late 1990s after winning the first elections for the Kampala mayorship on the DP ticket in 1998 after beating two candidates who were sponsored by NRM government. However, he did not finish his term because he was arrested in the United States and when he was released, he returned to Kampala in 2005 contested and reclaimed the seat using DP ticket.
However, in 2011, he crossed to NRM, when President Yoweri Museveni won elections, he appointed him the minister without portfolio, unfortunately, the Parliamentary appointments committee unanimously rejected him but in 2012 he became a presidential advisor on special duties. Currently, Sebagala holds no political post. One would say Sebagala’s crossing to NRM was a good move which kept him in politics for some time since he had lost popularity.
3.Dr Ruhakana Rugunda
During the 1980s elections, UPC suffered mass defections when most of its members deserted it and went to DP while others went and formed a new party Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM) which was founded by Yoweri Museveni, among those who crossed, was the current Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda. His crossing to join President Museveni is one of the things the late former President Apollo Milton Obote lamented till his death as to why the brilliant man Rugunda betrayed him, However, to Rugunda NRM was a promised land because he has benefited a lot given that fact the current UPC is as good as a dead Caesar.
Rugunda has held a long series of Cabinet posts such as; Minister of Health from 1986 to 1988, Minister of Works, Transport and Communication from 1988 to 1994, Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1994 to 1996, Minister of Information from 1996 to 1998, Minister at the Presidency from 1998 to 2001, Minister of Water, Lands and Environment from 2001 to 2003, and Minister of Internal Affairs from 2003 to 2009. He twice served as the President of the Security Council in July 2009 and in October 2010 during Uganda’s two-year stint on the Security Council. In 2014 he was appointed Prime minister replacing John Patrick Amama Mbabazi.
Onzima first represented Maracha County in Parliament in 1996 before the re-introduction of the multiparty system. In 2004 when the multiparty system was back, he joined FDC. However, in 2010, he left FDC and joined NRM. His crossing we may say it was a blessing to him because, after the 2011 national elections, Onzima was appointed Minister of State for Local Government. On 6 June 2016, he was named State Minister in the Office of the Vice President. Onzima if he had remained on the opposition side maybe he would have not seen any of the above posts.
Kivejinja is among those UPC members who defected in the 1980s, he crossed to Yoweri Museveni’s side together with Rugunda. During the 1960s he served as political mobilizer for the UPC. Although he was loyal to Obote, Kivejinja crossed to Museveni’s side and he has since served in several positions in the NRM government. In 1986, he was appointed Minister of Relief and Social Rehabilitation. He has since served as Minister of Internal Affairs, Third Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda, Senior Presidential Advisor for Internal Affairs. On 6 June 2016, he was named as the new Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Affairs.
Anywar began her elective politics by contesting for the Kitgum Municipality Constituency parliamentary seat in 2006 on FDC ticket Because of her environmental activism, she was appointed as the shadow minister for the environment, during her first term in parliament. Anywar became well known for her fight to save the Mabira forest and was given a name Maama Mabira.
However, during the 2016 parliamentary election cycle, Anywar lost in the FDC primaries, but she contested as an independent candidate, fortunately, she won the parliamentary seat comfortably. In December 2017, as her fellow opposition parliamentarians were struggling to stop the remove presidential age limits, Anywar voted “Yes” a move which earned her a ministerial role in Museveni’s government.
7. Beti Olive Namisango Kamya-Turomwe
‘If you can’t beat them join them’, that could be the proper word to explain Beti Kamya’s political journey which she started in 2004 when she joined the political pressure group Reform, Agenda, the precursor of the FDC political party.
From 2005 until 2010, she served as the special envoy of the FDC president Kizza Besigye. She also served as the elected member of parliament for Lubaga North Constituency on the FDC ticket.
However, in January 2010, she left FDC and formed her political party ‘Uganda Federal Alliance’ (UFA), a party that she represented in the 2011 presidential elections. However, before the 2016 elections, Kamya had already endorsed President Museveni’s sole candidature in 2016. This was a super jackpot that landed her to a ministerial post in the current government. She was appointed Minister for Kampala Capital City Authority. On 14th December 2019, she was named the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development. No doubt if Kamya had not abandoned her party, none of the posts she would have seen in life.
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