Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja is among the 22 Ugandan Ministers who were kicked out of their constituencies by voters in last week’s general election.
This Minister of Agriculture had been seeking a re-election as Kalungu Country East MP.
However, he lost miserably to a new face- Francis Katabaazi Katongole, a candidate sponsored by National Unity Platform (NUP).
It therefore remains surprising for a Minister who went through unopposed in the NRM primaries to lose to a new entrant in the race.
Whereas, Mr Ssempijja was accused of causing disharmony in Kalungu District and destroying the Lwera wetland by allowing rice growers and sand miners to carry out their activities in the area, he attributes his defeat to radical Catholic priests who staged a coup against him.
Kalungu is among the districts in South Buganda and Central region which overwhelmingly voted NUP presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine. He defeated President Museveni with a high margin in this block.
In an interview on Tuesday, Ssempijja decried ‘harassment’ by the Catholic priests who masterminded his defeat.
Without mentioning names, Ssempijja narrated how a priest who had led a queue of voters on the d-day, after picking his ballot turned around and demonstrated with a pen how and who to tick among the 10 presidential candidates.
“This priest, after getting his ballot paper, he faced the voters, rose his arms made the sign of the cross,” Ssempijja recounted.
While holding his ballot papers the priest shouted and showed voters who to vote.
“He then ticked Robert Kyagulanyi before casting his vote.”
Ssempijja said, the priest did the same when he reached the MPs’ section as he voted NUP candidate Katabaazi who would later trounce him.
“How then could I win?” “The priest influenced voters who were in the line.”
Although Ssempijja concealed the names of this church leader, several Catholic priests have been at the vanguard of this last election appealing to masses to denounce the ruling party and vote NUP and Mr Bobi Wine.
For example, Masaka Rev. Fr. Denis Ssebuggwawo Mayanja, 84, the former Masaka Diocesan Dean in 2019 declared his support for Bobi Wine’s People Power.
He described People Power as a charismatic revolution which cannot be stopped by any other force different from responding to citizens’ needs.
The priest said he was finalising a book titled: “People Power” focusing on philosophy and spirituality.
According to Rev. Mayanja, he is conceptualizing the various civil uprisings happened across the world in support of good and democratic governance in Uganda.
The book summarised the historical factors that have shaped the politics of Uganda from the colonial days and currently determining the systems of leadership profiting individuals.
These include introduction of communism, religious fights between the Roman Catholic and Anglican Church, tribalism introduced during the Obote regime, role of cadres and the ambitions by the NRM government to rule for life.
Therefore, the Catholic Church has greatly played a big role in shaping the politics of Mr Bobi Wine.
To appreciate the support of Church, NUP extended its gratitude to the Catholic Church and entire people of Buganda for voting the party’s MPs and Mr Bobi Wine.
Bobi Wine, a first timer in the Presidential race performed excellently, scoring 34% and bringing 56 lawmakers making NUP the opposition party with numerical strength in the Parliament.