Is EC setting Museveni up against Ugandans?

Saturday June 27 2020


By Asuman Bisiika

By the end of May, it was clear that holding elections (as scheduled in the first quarter of 2021) would need more than the usual attitude and latitude. The country had been shut down and the government had failed to offer basic relief food thereby throwing lives and livelihoods into hopelessness.

Mr Museveni, in an exclusive interview with Canary Mugume of NBS TV, even hinted on the postponement of the elections.
And then Mr Simon Byabakama happened bwa pa. Mr Byabakama, if there is need to know, is the chairman of the Electoral Commission in Uganda.

Without seeking consensus from stakeholders (rumour is that he met Mr Museveni), Mr Byabakama made public his clever ideas about how to manage elections in a bad situation.

The general thrust of this offending idea is that candidates will carry out campaigns on media platforms.
The response from the public was not unexpected (please mark the double negatives). And it was immediate and disapproving.

Yet the spectacle of the political Opposition leading the call for the postponement of the elections is worth the tag of irony. Mr Museveni’s position in the matter is not enviable: whatever his proposals, they would have been met with opposition from the Opposition. Yes, if he had called for a postponement, they would have opposed it. Now that he has called for the holding of the elections, the Opposition is up in arms.

Some people are saying the call for a scientific election is a ruse (by Mr Museveni) aimed at teasing out a response from the political Opposition.


Mbu Museveni’s ultimate objective is to postpone the elections; and that his call for scientific elections is to box the political Opposition into opposing him and (the opposition inadvertently) instead demand for the postponement of the elections. Clever man, no?

Other clever people say the Constitution doesn’t provide for the postponement of presidential elections. Mbu the Constitution only provides for the extension of the life of Parliament.
So, under whatever circumstances, Ugandans must elect a president in the first quarter of 2021 (as provided for in the Constitution).

But I am Ugandan enough to know that the Constitution, in spite of the sanctity associated with it, remains a subordinate function of politics. And I have many recent authorities to support this position.

On Mr Museveni’s side, there are those clever people reasoning that elections held under these circumstances would offer a lot of advantage to the oldman. That the Opposition is currently in disarray.

There are those saying that the only answer to this joogo is to leave Mr Museveni and Byabakama conduct their elections.

But Ugandan politicians cannot boycott a national election. There is no politician (and political party) that would forfeit the opportunity to be in Parliament for anything (even if such forfeiture would bring greater rewards).

So, scientific elections or postponement will all depend on what Mr Museveni’s think would offer the bigger advantage. The only thing I see is that this scientific election will pit Mr Museveni against Ugandans. And history will blame this on Mr Byabakama.

To save Uganda, Mr Museveni and Mr Byabakama need to look deeper than thinking of just going through the actions of organising an election.

Ugandans need to catch some breath, sit down, reflect and ask themselves: is an election what Ugandans need now?
My advice is simple: let us postpone the elections to 2026. Set up a transition administration to run the government with a minimum programme of managing the transition. Otherwise, Mr Byabakama is setting up Museveni against Ugandans.

Mr Bisiika is the executive
editor of the East African Flagpost.