OFWONO OPONDO: Don’t Listen to the Empty vessels in Opposition Ranks

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Ofwono Opondo (at the far right corner in red t-shirt) during the Afrika Kwetu Trek. Courtesy Photo/File

President Yoweri Museveni will be sworn-in on May 12, under the theme “Shaping Uganda’s destiny: our sole collective effort” for a sixth term until 2026 making him, and deservingly so, the longest serving democratically elected leader in Uganda, and that is making his opponents even so thin a record grow goose pimples.

The opponents, aided by foreign backers tried to discredit the electoral process because Museveni is an obstacle to their wicked desires to have a puppet regime that serves their wanton greed. And so they wove series of machinations to taint his win claiming without credible facts that the elections weren’t free and fair according to rules set by themselves.

And so, it shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore when rumours are abound in the back streets that sour loser in the last election, Robert Kyagulanyi a.k.a. Bobi Wine, is planning violent riots especially in towns in Buganda. But for sure your guess is as good as mine on how that mischief will be handled by the appropriate law and order enforcement agencies of the state.

Don’t bother burning any precious mental energy trying to figure out why after every election cycle, some people in a presidential election flirt with the idea that they can stop a presidential swearing-in, and sometimes like Kizza Besigye in 2011 even made good on the tease. Besigye’s supporters blocked roads and damaged guest presidential motorcades. One way to account for the dollars you receive is to stage defiance actions even against in the public court so that when you are thwarted, funders would have at least seen that you tried. And with Besigye’s political demise, there is vacuum to fill.

Now, having spent most of his professional life pleasing fans while earning money, your average performer like Bobi Wine yearns for their continued adulation, and there is no more reliable path to that destination than going on the hustings where his speeches are punctuated every few minutes with yelling from a raucous crowd.

Yes we have seen that stage name recognition can turn a novice candidate into a competitive contest, even if his positions and affiliations are fuzzy. Uganda is a blessed country where even those with little political talent and horse sense can win elections as long as they have a memorable name. That in itself doesn’t do that much damage. And after all, a comedian didn’t embarrass himself when he defeated John Ken Lukyamuzi-The Man. Ragga Dee and Jose Chameleon where not as lucky.

Elsewhere other famous performers, including Jesse Ventura, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and another guy named Donald J Trump silenced the doubters by winning office in their first tries in part because they were known quantities. But trying to stop a presidential inauguration is like trying to climb a tall slippery pole from the top. If the rumours are anything to by, then perhaps Kyagulanyi may be on adventure for name validation.

Those who want to take on President Museveni are better advised to learn from previous similar attempts that Museveni has the huge NRM political machinery standing on solid and viable policy platform behind and with him, and so you challenge him, especially outside the law at your own peril. Please don’t cry like a baby when that machinery comes down tumbling on you.

The NRM is a great party, and this has been demonstrated over many election circles since 1996 where it presented the highest numbers of candidates at all levels from sub-county, municipal, districts, Members of Parliament, and Presidency. President Museveni, its only presidential flag bearer so far, could be described as both a product and strong brand that sells NRM.

These candidates were successful leading NRM to the unassailable performance at 58.62% at presidential level, 72% at parliament, 85% at district, and 75% at sub-county level leadership. What is more, is that NRM wins in all regions with varying degrees meaning the party enjoys broad support countrywide. Even in Buganda and Busoga where NRM and Museveni didn’t perform as previously it nevertheless won substantial votes and seats, and therefore should work hard to reduce discontent.

However, although NRM has made tremendous achievements once again, this election campaign brought out many issues from which to learn, and creatively find urgent solutions. Among them is the deep frustration among a broad category of Ugandans who experience daily the laxity with government officials handle public service delivery. It isn’t an overstatement to say that many public service systems are unsatisfactory, expensive and riddled with corruption!

There is gross complacence, negligence, incompetence, diversion, absenteeism, fraud, abuse of office, and connivance among public officials, contractors, service providers, and supposed supervisors and sometimes the intended users. And while there is constraint in resource availability, it isn’t the major reason for poor service delivery. Closing loopholes and wastage, and making existing systems more functional could be effective remedy.

Ugandans must choose a secure, stable, fairer society and a democratic future, hence a peaceful post-inauguration upon which our focus must rest. Our loyalty to Uganda should be absolute. Together, let’s make it work.

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The writer, is Government Spokesperson and head of Uganda Media Centre

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