For the sake of this column, I will believe all that is coming from the NRM camp regarding why they lost the recent by-election for the Luweero Woman MP representative.
Among the reasons I will take home is the new one that NRM’s would-be voters, who were itching to give the party an overwhelming victory, stayed home. Why? Because ‘the Opposition told them lies that the magnanimous ruling party was sending transport to take them to the polling stations!’
You feel the pain of NRM on days such as this one.
The President who spent five years fighting in the bushes of Luweero to liberate this country from ‘backward and brutal leaders’ as we have been incessantly reminded, threw his weight behind the NRM candidate Rebecca Nalwanga. Remember Museveni had just returned a 54 per cent popularity rating in an opinion poll sponsored by this newspaper.
He told the people of the good roads, electricity, health, prosperity, the discovery of oil, the security and the fact that his party was in charge of the money in this land. Democratic Party’s Brenda Nabukenya who won the day had to settle for the sobriquet akawala ako (that little girl). It was made clear that she had nothing. Not even connections to the State to bring any groceries home.
NRM is now counting losses. Great losses attributed to the theft of its victory. In painfully explaining the reason for this loss, one is reminded of the saying that ‘the higher a monkey climbs a tree, the more it exposes its buttocks’.
Here is why. After about three decades of economic growth averaging 6 per cent, liars can easily tell people about free transport. They know that the recipients of the lie will believe it because they are too poor to afford transport to a polling station despite all the tales of economic growth.
Second, because NRM has been in the habit of throwing money at people like is happening in the ongoing campaign to popularise the ‘Kyankwanzi Resolution’, any mention of free money will make most people do anything. In Luweero, the chickens stayed home to roost.
Third, that the Electoral Commission, whose commissioners are handpicked by the President, connived with the Opposition to steal NRM’s victory is very sobering. The Opposition’s various complaints about the Electoral Commission not being a fair arbiter have been dismissed by many members of NRM as cries of bad losers.
Also, NRM now knows that the voters’ register on which the government has spent billions of shillings creating and cleaning is ‘useless’. How do people bused in from neighbouring districts vote in an election where the register has photographs of eligible voters?
Equally, the argument that NRM voters were intimidated and beaten sounds like something NRM has heard and laughed off in the past. Only that it has been attributed to its own members and rogue elements within the security organs who aim to cow people to vote for NRM.
This throws question marks over the entire tale of security of persons and property for which the President fought and scored very highly in latest opinion poll.
It is very telling that the heavily deployed police, which did a commendable job dispersing some Opposition rallies during the campaign for the Luweero by-election using tear gas, water cannons and live bullets, failed to protect the people from the beatings and intimidation of the Opposition.
NRM has always claimed that Luweero is their ‘Mecca’. Their loss this time round should serve as a pilgrimage that will help them search their souls on the type of democracy they have bequeathed to Uganda. Should they choose to run away from the truth, they will be like the monkey climbing higher to hide its nakedness.
Mr Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues. firstname.lastname@example.org