Over the Easter weekend a news clip on local Television, where a Member of Parliament is seen distributing a paltry 5,000 UG shs to his constituents threw my friends into a discussion about the conduct and role of our leaders.
There was outright anger and disgust in the room.
I took refuge in the wise counsel of a city lawyer David F. Mpanga that “politics – an activity that generates no wealth or income of its own but thrives on the blood, sweat and tears of you and I”
The sight of poor village lads scrambling for these handouts is a highlight that, we really do have a leadership deficit in our communities. We are not being led and we all know this. And the general populace is not forceful enough in ensuring it gets the leadership it knows it needs. It appears we have entered an era of entitlement leadership as opposed to servant leadership. There are people who are capable of doing that.
In sharp contrast with this money dishing MP, I took time to make sense on how different my own. A man who has represented Kazo for last 25 years and still growing strong. Unlike his colleagues, the man is busy in the constituency holding small and big rallies discussing and taking stock on the NRM performance midterm with no media hullabaloo.
Impressed with his method of work, I sought out to prop what makes this politician tick. Tick in a way that despite national parliamentary turn over being at 60 %, Nasasira has represented Kazo for over 25 years, winning every election either unopposed or with big margins.
It’s interesting to find what makes Nasasira unique and a constant in Kazo politics. Is it maneuver or masterly.
1. Museveni Factor.
In all presidential elections since 1996, President Yoweri Museveni has never scored less than 96% in Kazo constituency. This average mean statistic is a loud scream of the love and adoration of the president by the people of Kazo. This is buttressed by the contribution of many young men of this place in the liberation struggle. Therefore any politician or business brand that seeks to win over these hearts can easily do so along his Name. John Nasasira who has been at the fore of this statistic himself has politically ripped the dividend more than any other politician. Appointing him a Presidential adviser, State and Cabinet minister since 1989; People of Kazo view Nasasira as another Museveni. In fact any opposition to Nasasira is viewed as direct minimization of the President.
Kazo had the highest number of brave fighters in the NRA liberation struggle and as a result after the war until today, the people attach respect to the surviving fighters, their families and close friends. These families hold certain sense of direction to the rest of the communities. You can say of all people who have apposed John Nasasira its only Asimwe Rogers a young brother of Late Julius Kakwezi that posed the danger of unsettling this block vote of Nasasira, all the other opponents are not attached directly to this vote which has advantaged Hon Nasasira to win the hearts.
3 . More work less Media.
Unlike Kampala former mayor Nasser Ssebagala’s famous quote “Negative or positive all publicity is good in politics” , John Nasasira has defied this rhetoric, He prefers to work more than being seen to talk more. The man has literally been the father of Uganda’s road sector which he presided over for more than 10 years. In fact it was during his term that that the word pothole became famous, with so much to tell the world and be seen on Television or be heard on Radio John has kept out of making the media his horse, he prefers to ride in a total media blackout, making it hard for his opponents to gauge his weakness.
Its common to see junior ministers with troops of Journalists to cover even the basic activity but Nasasira has survived with less media coverage on his bark.
It is said that when he was first elected as a representative to the NRC back in 1989, it was the handiwork of elders rather than the ‘people’. Once he mastered the importance of this card, Nasasira has played it masterfully by keeping very close personal ties with every famous Elder on almost every village hill. Nasasira is viewed as disciplined grandchild who faithfully calls , visits and at times takes care of Medical bills when these elders are sick. In most cases he has benefited from these elders dissuading their own family members to contest with him.
4. Social Figure:
If you attended a wedding or a burial in the constituency be it for a child, youth or an elder, besides the family members you are likely to find John Nasasira or his representative. He is not occasional but very consistent at social events. These have endeared him as member you can rely on in both times of Sadness and celebrations. How he beats his no doubt busy national schedules as a minister only God can tell.
5. National figure:
Its no secret that you will hear people introduce themselves in ways that go like, “ I am so and so from Kamuli district, same place with Rt Hon Kadaga, the speaker of Parliament” It makes you feel proud to be associated with a village with a famous person, so is Nasasira. Each time a Kazo person introduces himself they will add where Minister Nasasira comes from. Some people vote for him because he personifies a national Fame.
At one fundraising function back in 1997 or there about, Nasasira nearly brought the entire cabinet to the constituency with more than 15 of the 24 cabinet ministers then for a construction of a dormitory at Kazo Model Primary School.
By the time he became MP in Kazo, it can arguably be said that he was the only Engineer in Kazo. He has been a symbol of inspiration for parents in the constituency to send their children to school reminding them that Education can make you be like Nasasira. Recently a young graduate of Engineering Byarugaba posted on his face book wall that he wants to represent the constituency because it’s a post for Engineers.
7. From politics to personal relations with local leaders.
Because of his long stay in the constituency, Nasasira has established very close personal relations with local leaders. These local leaders bulk behind him in every election because to them this is no longer political but personal, they visit his home each time he is in the constituency, he has seen them for a long time, seen their children go to school and get married with his support on school fees and wedding expenses. He has helped some to convince out there opponents.
So such is the man whose personal mobile number in expensive cell phone like Samsung S series is faithfully saved in cheap Chinese phones of Local council leaders in far flung villages.
8. Kampala group.
There is something special about ‘Kampala group’ each time they visit a village anywhere in the country. It’s a common phenomenon to hear announcements a=at social events that Kampala people will eat first or take comfortable seats. Village people treat Kampala people as educated, moneyed and well exposed.
Even in elections Kampala group play a vital role. For Nasasira this has been his arsenal. He is always the candidate endorsed by Kampala mythical people. They always man polling stations at times dishing out there groceries which end up sending signals to villagers that if we in Kampala can endorse this man who are you?
The latest magic bullet in Hon Nasaira’s politics is new Tarmac road which has reduced travel time to Kampala from 10 hours in 1990s,to 6 hours through the 2000’s and by end of Last year we take only 3 hours to get to Kampala. This has allowed traders to make return journeys saving money on accommodation and time wasted as been extension of Electricity (About to be switched on in a few weeks), and now water running in the taps of Kazo town council. This has ushered in a new era all to the credit of Area MP.
Now with all these infrastructural developments coming within this year term, the man can use them to turn the fortunes of 2016 in his favor.
Nasasira’s campaigns since 1996 have been planned, managed and executed by the youth. He has always relied on the young people to campaign for him. One famous youth who came through this mentoring is the current councilor of Uganda Law Society to KCCA Hon Frank Kanduho. After coming of age Kanduho unsuccessfully tried to unseat his mentor during last years NRM primaries. Despite this threat he has continued to work with the young people allowing them to traverse the county on his behalf may be with the hope that when he decides to call quits, the young are familiar with the terrain.
He hinted on this during the burial of Brig. Taban Kyabihende’s mother “I feel sad when I see young people dodging school to loiter in markets and trading centers because these are the future leaders”
Nasasira has become some sort of a brand in Kazo to the extent that if you came to contest for the parliamentary seat, people call it Nasasira seat. Despite your manifesto, people look at you as being against Nasasira the man.
For those familiar with the greater Mbarara district before its current sub division into other 4 districts, Nasasira was in the caucus of Late Eriya Kategaya –Rwampara, John Kazora –Kashari, Deo Rwabita –Ibanda, Elly Karuhanga of Nyabushozi ,Hon Winnie Byanyima –Mbarara Municipality and Hon Miria Koburunga Matembe as a woman MP, all of these colleagues have left through electoral loss, voluntary retirement , crossing to other political linings and other factors.
Going forward you could say he is a lucky guy just like the French wine which gets better with time. We can now watch 2016 to see if the man will continue with his job or he will consider taking the path of long time cabinet friends like Dr Rugunda who have relinquished constituency but continue to serve in cabinet.
Agaba Ronald Bills