The Opposition as well as the ruling National Resistance Movement party leaders have dismissed Uganda Governance Pulse’ survey as inaccurate, claiming that the findings don’t directly translate into the actual situation in the country.
One of the NRM spokespersons, Mr Rogers Mulindwa, described the poll as a wink in the dark and a mere diversion that gives Mr Museveni’s opponents false hope.
“I think that is underrating Mr Museveni. He is underscored because he is a tested and trusted leader that has the capacity to protect the people of Uganda and their property either through armed or intellectual struggle just like he has done with Covid-19,” Mr Mulindwa said.
“Some of these people make these polls to re-energise other candidates in the race but if they were to be very realistic, they would have given the President at about 80 [per cent],” he added.
Conducted in the second week of March, the survey considered opinions of Ugandans on the likely choice of president they would elect if polls were to be convened in early March.
Conducted by the Research World International on behalf of the Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies and the Independent Expert Peer Group of policy and public analysts, the survey sampled 2,321 respondents randomly selected across the country based on the 2014 population census.
The survey placed President Museveni with 47 per cent, ahead of the others in the race; Kyadondo East legislator, alias Bobi wine, the leader of the People Power pressure group now morphed into the National Unity Platform (NUP) at 23 per cent and Dr Kizza Besigye at 17 per cent.
Mr Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party spokesperson, said the sample space was only 2,321 people of the 17, 782, 594 voters expected to participate in the 2021 polls.
“The situation represented by the report is contradictory. I don’t believe those figures. That would not be an opinion poll. They didn’t interview everybody in the country,” Mr Ssemujju said.
He added: “As a political party, we are not looking at this game of change as a game that will end in 2021. That is why those figures don’t bother me. They change nothing on the ground.”
Mr Ssemujju advised think-tanks to focus their energies on how to yield a free and fair election.
“The debate should be about the quality of elections we are going to have as compared to what we have had in the past,” he said.
The acting national coordinator for the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT), Ms Alice Alaso, said the report clearly indicates Ugandans hardly envisage a peaceful country after President Museveni’s reign.
“That report carries with it a strand of fear from the moment the conversation begins to the point it is capped. So again we have to deal with Ugandans to embolden the population to understand that it is possible to have the country without President Museveni and people will still fall asleep in the night,” Ms Alaso said. She added that the report shows that there is a need for civic education to be improved among Ugandans.
“What is however disturbing are some of the segments of the report that ordinary Ugandans are unable to make a connection between their daily lives and the political questions of this country,” Ms Alaso said.
The NUP spokesperson, Mr Joel Ssenyonyi, said the survey was meant to drum up support for President Museveni ahead of next year’s General Election.
“With every election, there is always a report and opinion polls that are done to drive the narrative that President Museveni still has popularity [and] some ground,” Mr Ssenyonyi said.
“If you really want to know the heart of Ugandans, look at what happened during the Togikwatako campaign, Ugandans massively were saying we don’t want the amendment of our Constitution to remove the age limit,” he added.
Ray of hope
On the contrary, the Kasese Woman MP and former Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Ms Winfred Kiiza, said: “Looking at the statistics, I get hope that Ugandans want change and they are really tired of President Museveni.”
“The only problem is that we are fighting from different angles. If we would bring our ups [strength]together, fight together as members of the Opposition, I know we can win the trust of the 11 per cent that was not decided,” she added.
Ms Kiiza asked the Opposition to unite in order to unseat Mr Museveni in the 2021 General Election.
However, the debate on fronting a joint Opposition candidate has on various occasions attracted mixed reactions.