Thought and Ideas
The bumpy political journey to 2016
Posted Sunday, October 27 2013 at 01:00
Kampala- Uganda’s politicians from both the government and the opposition already have their sights on the anticipated 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections.
Political observers, however, do feel Uganda’s political landscape has become so bumpy that none of the top political players from either side of the divide can, with certainty, predict the possible political scenarios and outcomes of that election.
Looking at the opposition generally, you will find two main contending opinions about the road leading to the 2016 general elections.
On one hand, you have one group which believes that with strong grassroots mobilisation, voter education and voter protection machinery, the incumbent can be defeated in a presidential election, his rigging techniques notwithstanding.
And on the other hand, you have another strong group within the opposition that feels that under the present set up, the opposition would be wasting time going for elections, which are as good as already rigged. To them, the solution is either to boycott or create a situation that can force the NRM establishment to allow the necessary reforms that can lead to credible and acceptable elections.
The latter’s opinion is informed by the way the NRM has conducted elections since 1996.
They raise a number of questions including the following:-
• How can we have an Electoral Commission that is not partisan in composition and conduct?
• How can we have a fairly levelled play ground during campaigns?
And to them, without having clear answers to the above questions, it will simply be a waste of time to participate in an exercise that is already rigged.
Listening to the two sides within the opposition, each of them seem to have valid reasons why they believe in their position.
Those against the elections are so concerned about a voter register that defeats the mind of any logical statisticians. For the information of the readers, the registered voters have been approx. 8,500,000 in 1996, 10,570,412 in 2001, 10,450,788 in 2006 and 13,954,129 in 2011.
It is important to note from the above figures that the registered voters in 2001 were more than those in 2006. In fact, those who voted in 2001 were also more than those who voted in 2006.
Those against are also concerned by the way the Supreme Court, which is responsible for any presidential election disputes, is being constituted. They do recall how the 2006 presidential election petition was decided.
And it was because of the verdict that the opposition did not even bother to petition after the 2011 presidential elections which they felt were equally rigged.
But those in favour of elections under the opposition are encouraged by the past voter turnout and the votes gained by candidate Museveni.
They note that the voter turnout has been going down since 1996. While the voter turnout was 72.3 per cent in 1996, it went down to 70.3 per cent in 2001, 65.83 per cent in 2006 and 59.29 per cent in 2011. Their argument is that if the many registered voters can be energised to turn out and vote, it would highly work out in favour of the opposition.
They are further encouraged by the fact that Mr Museveni has not been increasing his votes dramatically since 1996.
According to statistics, he garnered 4,428,119 in 1996, 5,123,360 in 2001, 4,109,449 in 2006 and 5,428,369 in 2011. Here it is important to note that despite the increase on the voter register since 1996, his votes have not grown by any proportionate degree. In fact he even scored far much lower in 2006 than he had scored in 2001.