The Director of Alongside Africa Uganda, Tirwomwe Wilberforce, reflects on the forth coming elections in Uganda.
Who will take the Day in the Next Polls in Uganda?
Every society legislates and acts according to its history and where it wants to go. Come 18.02.2016 Uganda decides which leaders she can entrust with her future in the next 5 years. Understandably the stakes are high, tempers flared, and an atmosphere of unprecedented frenzy and uncertainty prevails. Nevertheless, it is envisaged, peace will prevail.
The science of crowds and political rhetoric notwithstanding; going by recent consistent opinion polls the incumbent President and ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party flag bearer Yoweri Museveni (YM) is on course to win the topmost elective position, albeit with a much slimmer margin over & above the 50% mark. According to IPSOS – a leading research firm – Museveni (M7) may yet garner 53 %, Kizza Besigye 28 %, Amama Mbabazi 1.3 % and the remaining 5 contenders sharing the remaining portion among them with insignificant proportions. [My personal prediction is that M7 will take the day with votes in the range of 55 – 60% of the total votes cast; I will be surprised – but surely not devastated – if I am proved wrong].
As usual the victors will be decided based on what Ugandans deem critical issues, not least of which include: the prevailing peace vis-à-vis the fear factor, socioeconomic growth, and the geopolitical environment. However to me the most dominant forces in the election will be who convinces the electorate the most and, believe it or not, the behaviour of our security forces, of course with the gallant Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) at the helm. Several stunts have been pulled; immense financial muscle displayed (from God-knows-where); a lot of promises (some far-fetched) and lies have been made; but, for all intents and purposes, the verdict of Ugandans will be made and, I hope, respected by all and sundry.
What seems to dampen the morale is mainly the avowed campaign of ‘defiance’ amongst leading opposition contender Kizza Besigye’s (KB’s) camp; the unpredictable salient manoeuvring by Amama Mbabazi (AB) – the leader many Ugandans love to hate; and of course the very calculative & cunning actions of YM. Though our security forces have been deemed partisan, I hope that is not the case, we cannot rule out their overwhelming influence over the final outcome of the February polls.
Understandably investors, aliens, tourists, property holders, development partners and the vulnerable electorate have valid reasons to be worried. However we hope and pray that all goes well. At least the security forces, whom I personally hold in high esteem, have assured us that there’s no cause for alarm. We have weathered many storms and absolutely are ready to take on the current turbulent political storm head-on. Uganda is bigger than all of us and shall prevail whoever takes the day.
Finally the least we could all do is; remain vigilant; perform our civic duty and come out to vote in large numbers; steer clear of the trouble spots; and trust that the independent electoral commission does their best in delivering credible results for Ugandans. To those unleashing irresponsible and inflammatory verbal messages; threatening violence, intimidating supporters, and promising heaven and earth; I would caution them to be extra careful. While it is relatively easy to start a fire; it is more difficult to contain it and/or determine how much havoc it leaves in its path! We cannot afford to see our beloved country plunged into yet another era of political turmoil and the resultant unpredictable consequences. At least the UPDF will handle; and I cannot have sleepless nights about the perceived security threats. No one doubts the capability of our gallant men and women in uniform; they have gone out of their way to demonstrate that they are still in control, including displaying their combat readiness (refer to the attached snap). To those in doubt; refer to the recent detention and ongoing court prosecution of Gen. David Sejusa (aka Tinyefuza): a four-star General; hero turned villain; and architect of many security operations (some akin to crimes against humanity) of late ‘a darling of opposition elements geared to wresting political power from YM/M7 by all means possible’, including the dirtiest and deadliest missions possible; it all speaks volumes about the resolve of the UPDF High command which will not spare anyone!
Alluta Continua [the struggle continues). For God and my country!