Monday January 25 2016

Why NRM takes WRI poll results with a pinch of salt

Ofwono Opondo

Ofwono Opondo  

By Ofwono Opondo

Usually, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) is not in the habit of denouncing and disregarding opinion poll results even when they don’t seem to favour us because we believe they are a useful measure of our standing on critical issues of public concern, especially if done by credible institutions that don’t have publicly known bones to pick with NRM or President Yoweri Museveni.

As we count down the 25 days to the polls slated for February 18, there is admittedly heightened pressure on candidates and their agents, and so increasingly we may level accusations in an effort to gain undeserved public sympathies. The media and public opinion pollsters too are piling more miseries on candidates usually with results whose credibility should be easy to dismiss because the objectives of the sponsors are not hard to find.
One such opinion poll is the latest conducted and released by a local firm, Research World International (RWI) whose lead director, Dr Patrick Wakida, is an un-disguised member of the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). Mr Wakida was in 2006 an aide to FDC Dr Kizza Besigye, and current presidential candidate.

Officially, the survey poll was sponsored by the Uganda Governance Monitoring Platform (UGMP), a brainchild of the NGO forum, which wrote the so-called Citizens’ Manifesto, which it wanted to force down NRM’s throat. In the view of the NGO Forum, the NRM has been performing poorly, and its manifesto was not in accordance with the ‘citizens’ aspirations.
The NRM rightly refused to adopt the NGO Forum document because it believed that NRM too represented Ugandan citizens, especially with a strong elective mandate at the presidential, parliamentary and local government levels. NRM, therefore, has a broader and more balanced view of Uganda, what citizens want and they can be achieved.

Having failed to convince the NRM to adopt its policy platform, the NGO Forum then wrote another document titled “the Citizens’ Compact on free and fair elections in Uganda.” In it, it broadly demanded ‘electoral reforms’, including the disbandment of the current Electoral Commission (EC) led by Mr Badru Kiggundu, as well as dismissal of Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura, who they accused of political bias in favour of Museveni.
Therefore, the finding of the poll by RWI that the ‘majority’ of Ugandans don’t trust the EC and police is consistent with the long held view of the NGO Forum, the disguised sponsors of the survey, and shouldn’t take anybody as a surprise.

We also believe that while RWI may have ‘professionals’, it could weave and skew its methodology, questionnaire, sample respondents and size to achieve the above stated objectives of its funders in a futile effort to build political scenarios that create despondency. One of the scenarios that have been built by the Opposition and civil society organisations is that this election cannot be free, fair, and without well-calculated violence organised by the State, and the poll results do point to that direction.
Also, the NGO consortium supported by the Opposition have even without credible evidence been pumping out sustained false propaganda that President Museveni cannot or perhaps will not peacefully hand over power if he is defeated in an election. This is in spite of the fact that Mr Museveni and NRM have publicly stated otherwise.

As for the results showing that Mr Museveni’s popularity is on the steady decline and that he currently stands at a modest 51 per cent, while Besigye and Amama Mbabazi have gained an incredible 10 percentage point at 32 per cent and 12 per cent respectively is meant to build a scenario of presidential re-run. NRM campaign machinery will want to put to shame these statistics and opinion polls on polling day because we believe they are well-calculated falsehoods to prepare the public mood for a possible election dispute, and the much talked about violence among the gullible Opposition supporters.

NRM anticipates that these scenarios are all being built with the overall objective of showing that currently there is extreme political polarisation in Uganda which may lead to a stalemate of unimaginable consequences, and therefore warranting a post-election ‘unity government’ where NRM should share power with the Opposition. This is the reason there is already talk of the need for a ‘unity and consensus government’ in the corridors of the civil society organisations, Western donor community and even some presidential candidates regardless of how wide the margin of NRM victory will be.
Mr Ofwono speaks for the NRM.