Uganda: It Is a Family Affair for Kween Woman MP Seat

In 2010, Kween District was created by an Act of Parliament and started functioning on July 1, the same year.

Since the birth of the district, two family members have battled each other for the Woman Member of Parliament (MP) seat for the constituency.

Ms Lydia Chekwel, the incumbent Woman MP, since 2011 is battling her niece Ms Rose Emma Cherukut, who is popularly known as Pakalast, the former Kapchorwa Resident District Commissioner (RDC).

Ms Chekwel is married to Mr Alfred Barteka, the brother of Mr Andrew Yesho, who is Ms Cherukut’s father.

According to Sebei culture, your uncle’s wife is given the same respect as your mother.

The first time the duo faced off was in 2011. Ms Checkwel ended up winning both the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party primaries and the General Election.

However, Ms Cherukut won the NRM primaries in 2015 but lost to Ms Chekwel, who decided to run as an Independent, in the final election.

The same trend seems to be shaping up in the 2021 elections as Ms Chekwel decided to run as an Independent again after losing to Ms Cherukut in the party primaries.

Ms Cherukut got 19,004 votes while Ms Chekwel managed to score 15,041 votes.

However, Ms Chekwel never conceded defeat and alleges that the election was marred by irregularities as was the case in the 2015 elections and decided to run as an Independent.

“I was confident I was going to win the primaries but when results were coming in, there were a lot of irregularities. Many results were tempered with,” she said in an interview at the weekend.

According to Ms Chekwel, in the lower belt of the district, a village would have more than 400 voters yet such a population does not exist in the area.

“That was not a free and fair election but the good thing is my people still have trust in me and I will not disappoint them,” she said.

However, Mr Chemusto Martin, a resident of Kwosir Sub-county and supporter of Ms Cherukut, said the primaries were conducted fairly.

“Ms Chekwel petitioned and the election was found to be free and fair,” he says.

Mr Bashir Chelimo, a political strategist and resident of Binyiny Town Council, said the two candidates have created a heated contest that involves selling their agenda and recruiting diehard supporters in their respective camps.

“The NRM primaries had a lot of issues. Not only in Kween but all over the country. It could be the same reason that Ms Chekwel won in 2016 as an Independent,” Mr Chelimo said.

Mr Chelimo said in Sundet Sub-county, the barracks polling station, 480 people voted and yet it has few soldiers.

“The locals are likely to vote for a leader with ability to address the issue of the poor road network, storage facilities for agricultural produce because as farmers, they need better roads to transport their produce to the market,” he said.

Mr Chelimo said Ms Chekwel is supported by senior politicians and the elderly which gives her an advantage over Mr Chekurut who is supported by the youth.

“You cannot trust the youth 100 per cent. Some of them are not registered voters,” he said.

Family factor

Mr Chelimo said the other issue shaping up the politics in the women race is the family bond.

“Ms Chekwel has an edge over that. She is looked at as a mother and her main opponent as a daughter. Most of the women in Kween respect her and she will consolidate that support base. Ms Cherukut has had issues with her marriage and it will affect her,” he said.

Ms Chekwel, in her manifesto indicates that her plans for Kween are yet to be accomplished and this is why she is back into the race.

“In my manifesto, the plight of the common person comes first. We must transform education, boost peoples businesses to eradicate poverty and ensure there are better health services among other things,” she said.

According to Ms Chekwel, when the landslides hit Kween District in May claiming the lives of three people and destroying crops, she mobilised the district leaders and lobbied for relief food.

In a May 11 letter that Daily Monitor has seen, the legislator wrote to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), indicating that the people of Kween urgently needed support.

OPM went on to deliver items that included 20,000 kilogrammes of maize flour, 10,000 kilogrammes of beans, blankets, and iron sheets, among others.

The incumbent Woman MP also said Ms Chekurut was fronted to dislodge her from Parliament but she is not scared and will win in the coming General Election.

“When my daughter was given a State House job as an RDC of Kapchorwa District two years ago, I congratulated her. But I was surprised that some people fronted her to challenge me. Of course, it is not healthy to have such a family competition but we will always preach unity and peace,” she said.

However, Ms Cherukut dismissed the allegations saying the people of Kween are just tired of poor representation.

She said if elected, she will lobby for the upgrading of health centres, roads and improvement of the education sector, which she says, has been neglected by the incumbent.

“I will also fight corruption and voice issues concerning women, youth, persons with disabilities (PWDs) and the elderly without fear if elected,” she said.

She also promised to spearhead the dialogue between the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and locals, who reside near Mt Elgon National Park.

The two will also face off against Ms Irene Cherop, the Forum for the Democratic Change flag bearer for the seat.

Reaction of the community