As election campaigns progress into the home stretch and facing defeat, the combined opposition, especially presidential candidates are increasingly getting desperate, heightening acrimonious political discourse laced with blatant lies, fabrications, malice, intimidation and unmitigated display of violent confrontations. They hope to succeed in their grand plan to discredit the electoral process if they can’t thwart President Yoweri Museveni’s win within the first round.
And yes, the opposition has never been held in high esteem by the public and voters, and there isn’t reason to do so today. It’s difficult seeing them pass the gate when NRM already has many MPs, district chairpersons and thousands of councilors elected unopposed. NRM has sufficient man-power to effectively pin down major opposition campaign surrogates.
The NRM’s election campaign theme is “Securing Your Future” reflecting the strength of its strong track record during which Uganda resurrected from a failed state to a prosperous one of great hope, and the need to ensure that gains aren’t reversible. Collectively, Ugandans must ensure a tranquil process in which everyone abides by the rules. Incidents of lawless by few opposition groups and leaders should continuously be exposed, isolated and neutralized. Museveni’s leadership seeks to expand and consolidate socio-economic transformation and shared prosperity through industrialization, job and wealth creation.
These groups already know that they are losing the elections by big margins and are running really desperate hoping that they will succeed in scaring away vulnerable voters like older persons, persons with disabilities, women and the affluent elite afraid of being embarrassed in political melees. There is ample evidence including on media platforms where a lot of dark energy is rending the air with foul language and threats by shadowy stalkers. Nevertheless, we must reject bullying and fight back although not descend into their sewers.
Events of the past one month also seem to have provided Kizza Besigye whose political flak and slack is continuously diminishing with a straw to hang on as he makes a political comeback, but pundits doubt that Besigye can make full recovery. Besigye’s rough terrain especially among the squinted eyed has to a large degree been taken up by Robert Kyagulanyi a.k.a. Bobi Wine. And for all his ongoing outbursts, Besigye is simply processing his personal grief at the inevitable prospects that he might never be president of Uganda. From the casual look of things, Kyagulanyi also appears to have sliced off support from DP in Buganda where he is being presented as a tribal preference.
Besigye needs to come to terms with the fact that many people have already stopped paying attention to him. The four-time presidential loser who never brought his party, FDC to any substantial parliamentary electoral strength seems uninterested in going away quietly. His sidekick, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, for whatever he may be up to, is only a pale shadow.
Besigye’s ability to command the political election news cycle has been roundly eclipsed by Kyagulanyi, the political virus he couldn’t stop in its track. Kyagulanyi has taken over Besigye’s obdurate brand of politics with police on campaign trail where he refuses to comply with election regulations and Covid19 SOPs knowing he has little substance, if any, to offer in a structured public discourse.
As the campaigns draw to the final lap, Amuriat, Kyagulanyi, Mugisha Muntu Norbert Mao, and Henry Tumukunde are planning a strategy they hope will fail NRM candidate, Yoweri Museveni from an outright win on January 14, 2021, and thereby force a re-run. It is emerging their calculations that Muntu and Tumukunde would break Museveni’s back in western Uganda isn’t working because the two are lame horses with no significant following among any social segments or regions of Uganda. Incredibly, they have even failed to effectively articulate in a convincing way what they really stand for in this election except chorusing the song ‘Museveni should go’. They are political spoilers for the opposition.
There is false belief that Kyagulanyi could garner Catholic, Baganda and youth votes, while Amuriat romps in eastern Uganda especially Teso region from where he hails. But this is unlikely to materialise considering that Amuriat was routed from the small county of Kanyum in 2016 where he had spent fifteen years as an MP. NRM youths being disciplined and not shouting aggressively doesn’t mean they aren’t a majority, and that will be proved.
As in 2011, when Mao and John Olara Otuunu both stood hoping to deny Museveni the Acholi and northern votes, they are today running another futile errand with Mao. This strategy is evident in their public utterances of the last two weeks. They hope that journalist turned quasi religious preacher, candidate Joseph Kabuleta will persuade the Bunyoro belt to vote ‘son of the soil’. Each opposition presidential candidate who has been there claimed falsely that Museveni neglected Bunyoro and is mismanaging oil revenues. Some have told lies that Museveni is secretly exporting crude oil, a bogus claim, even a rudimentary soul can’t believe. Winners like Museveni never quit, and Muntu the quitter from UPDF and FDC will find winning difficult.
The writer, is the Government Spokesperson and head of Uganda Media Centre