It was such a tough game for the ruling National Resistance Movement party to oust Al-hajji Mohamed Baswari Kezaala from Jinja’s mayor’s parlour.
Kezaala who is also the national chairperson of the opposition Democratic Party has been the Mayor of Jinja Municipality for ten years since 2006, although his first term was interrupted when he was arrested by the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) for about a year on allegations of corruption but later cleared in 2009.
He broke the record of being the first mayor of Jinja to serve for two consecutive terms. But his desire to extend his stay for a third term was unceremoniously ended a fortnight ago with a loss to NRM’s Majid Batambuze.
At the end of an enthralling campaign period, 272 votes against Kezaala who managed just 6,297 votes.
Allies with NRM
Although Kezaala was elected on an opposition ticket, he struck an alliance with his counterpart for the NRM Moses Grace Balyeku who is also the Jinja Municipality West Member of Parliament and formerly the NRM chairperson for Jinja district.
The alliance suffered its first major blow in 2011 when Balyeku was slapped with investigations from within his party about his leadership of the party. Balyeku withdrew into the background leaving Kezaala to fight for his own.
Matters worsened when opposition leaders especially in the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) who had backed him in the mayoral race in 2011 chose to support NRM’S candidate this time round accusing Kezaala of working hard against Paul Mwiru for the Jinja Municipality West.
Some voters say Kezaala has been an arrogant leader who utters words without considering their tremendous effect to the electorate.
On several occasions, Kezaala has been faulting the ruling party for fronting the weakest candidate unfit to match him and to some voters, it sounded like demeaning.
Amama Mbabazi costs Kezaala
As many analysts have pointed out, the alliance struck between the Democratic Party and John Patrick Amama Mbabazi’s Go Forward was DP’s worst calculation ever. In his attempt to attract support from the opposition, Mbabazi courted the opposition but only managed to sway DP in large numbers.
With full backing from the parties top leadership led by its President General Norbert Mao, DP supported Mbabazi including providing handy translations at his rallies where influential DP MPs such as Medard Lubega Sseggona.
But when the campaign rolled on, Mbabazi lost his steam and so did his allies in the Democratic Party. At the end of the presidential race, DP had lost 8 MP seats and several lower level positions including Kezaala’s.
Many political analysts blame Kezaala and his party for jumping into bed with Mbabazi who had not demonstrated any grass roots support whatsoever.
Poor service delivery
However much Kezaala’s council endeavoured to deliver services within their means, they were invisible to most residents who believe the once glorious town has instead been plunged many inches in the ditch than before Kezaala became mayor.
True, among the many accusations, is darkness at night with no street in Jinja including Main Street having security lights.
Another major accusation has been the stench emanating from the leather industries in Jinja coupled with the poor road network around Jinja town. No wonder many town dwellers have often described
Kezaala’s leadership as a cocoon of land grabbers rather than leaders.
Internal party bickering
Some of Jinja’s residents also accuse Kezaala of failing to use his position to consolidate party membership and support within his own home district and town. Among them is his former deputy speaker Adinani Kawooya who has repeatedly referred to Kezaala as a man full of intrigue and selfish.
Botched bursary scheme
When he came to office in 2006, Kezaala started sweet-talking the corporate companies in Jinja to always give back to the community.
Indeed, one of the major companies in the town, BIDCO Uganda and Skyfat ternary responded positively by providing over 200 millions shillings towards the scheme in order to sponsoring vulnerable learners across Jinja municipality.
Kezaala insists the scheme has benefited thousands of pupils and students, but his opponents continue to around telling voters that the funds have been mismanaged.
The Kyabazinga saga
At the climax of the Kyabazinga controversies in 2014 that culminated into the ascension of High Royal Highness William Wilberforce Kadhumbula Nadiope Gabula 1V to the throne, Kezaala who seemed silent was viewed by majority as an Anti Gabula leader.
He was according accused of conniving with other leaders like former Jinja district chairman now elected Member of Parliament for Bulamogi North West Fredrick Ngobi Gume to facilitate the antagonistic faction of Prince Edward Wambuzi Muloki to also claim the throne.
Whether or not this was mere propaganda, many of the royalists to the institution of Kyabazingaship started a clandestine cold war against Kezaala labelling him anti-Kyabazinga.
This war seemed to have ended in the ballot box.
These and many other misfortunes include his failure to secure city status for Jinja, poor voter turn out connived to deny Kezaala victory.
As if that was no enough, on the eve of voting, hundreds of suspected supporters of Kezaala were
arrested by police after being suspected to be ferrying people from outside Jinja to turn-up for voting.
Whereas police is investigating the allegations, Kezaala was disorganized psychologically and left wondering around police to rescue his people. At some polling stations such as Mpumudde High School.
Kezaala believes however that his loss was stage managed by the police whom he accuses for supporting the introduction of pre-ticked ballots as well as issuing multi ballot papers to an individual from Batambuze’s camp.