Although the next general election is due in February 2021, it increasingly looks as if some politicians are already on the campaign trail, traversing Uganda in search of votes. Such is the impression many people I met in Arua Town on May 11 formed after witnessing events which transpired in Koboko District on that Saturday.
Officially, President Museveni was at Koboko to launch phase IV of the National Backbone Infrastructure Connectivity Project for West Nile and Karamoja, but from the colour scheme it was evident that this was an NRM rally. According to usually reliable sources, hundreds of NRM supporters dressed in yellow were transported from all over West Nile to welcome and cheer the NRM leader at St Charles Lwanga Secondary School.
The real, but unstated purpose of the gathering was disclosed by the LC5 chairperson of Arua District, Mr Wadri Sam Nyakua, who read a memorandum on behalf of district chairpersons of West Nile which document he handed to Sabalwanyi.
According to a story published in Daily Monitor of May 13 titled, Leadership in Africa is like war – Museveni, district chairpersons from West Nile submitted “a joint memorandum in which they endorsed a resolution to ring-fence the NRM presidential flag bearer slot for the incumbent”.
The headline of a similar story published by New Vision of May 14 put it bluntly and shamelessly: “West Nile endorses Museveni as the NRM sole candidate.”
Mr Nyakua alleged that their support for Sabalwanyi as sole candidate was due to the NRM government’s decision to tarmac the Karuma-Pakwach-Arua road, restoring peace in the region and solving the problem of electricity in West Nile.
For the information of Ugandans, the lack of reliable and regular electricity supply in West Nile has not yet been adequately addressed and will not be solved as long as Wenereco Power Company is in charge of generating and supplying electricity in the region.
The work of upgrading the Karuma-Pakwach-Arua road is not a favour to the people of West Nile for which they must be eternally grateful to guess who. As taxpayers and citizens of Uganda, it is a right we expect from any government of Uganda.
Koboko Municipality MP Evelyn Anite’s claim that the people of Koboko support Sabalwanyi because he returned them from exile in DRC and South Sudan is a pack of lies, undeserving of comment.
I don’t, therefore, know the basis on which the LC5 chairpersons of West Nile endorsed Sabalwanyi as sole candidate for 2021, but a friend told me that he would not be surprised if some brown envelopes facilitated the deal.
Sabalwanyi’s position on why he is in politics is an open secret. He has been honest and transparent about why he joined politics which Ugandans believe is a dirty game; Sabalwanyi compared African politics to war in his speech at Koboko.
On January 26, 2017, Sabalwanyi told Ugandans, at Masindi, in broad daylight why he is in politics. State broadcaster UBC carried his speech live on radio and television. He has never denied what he bragged about on that day. This is partly what he said:
“I am not an employee. I hear some people saying I am their servant. I am a freedom fighter – that is why I do what I do. I don’t do it because I am your servant. I am just a freedom fighter. I am fighting for myself, for my belief – that is how I come in. If anybody thinks you gave me a job, he is deceiving himself. I am just a freedom fighter whom you thought could help you also.”
The message is loud and clear. It’s unbelievable and unacceptable. The minimum Ugandans expect of a presidential candidate is humility to be a servant of the people and commitment to relentlessly pursue a national and patriotic agenda.