Hoima by-election: First test to Bobi Wine’s crowd revolution

NUP leader Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine campaigns for LCV Candidate Moses Aguuda in Hoima District on September 11, 2023. PHOTO/HANDOUT

What you need to know:

  • Under probe fierce remarks in viral images showing Bobi Wine welcomed by Red Seas of supporters have since embodied the prominence oh his’s renewed raged bid for change.
  • On Thursday, NUP will be aiming to create a new order in Hoima, a district which less complied with the party’s 2021 ‘people-power’ umbrella ticking wave. 

At least 94,824 registered voters in oil-rich Hoima District head for a Thursday LCV by-election whose outcome might prove a baseline test for opposition strongman Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, following weeks of his high-octane political rallies.

Until September 13, 2023, the National Unity Platform (NUP) party leader, who on August 28 got off to an unusually smooth choreographed campaign routine –without police or military intervention- in almost every region of Uganda, was appearing to be hitting his stride of reawakening a political revolution against Yoweri Museveni’s 37-year presidency.

Under probe fierce remarks seen in widely viral images have since embodied the prominence of Kyagulanyi’s renewed raged bid for change in the 45million-people country with over 2.7 million social media users.

But first, through its frontrunner Moses Aguuda, NUP will be aiming to create a new order in Hoima, a district which complied with the party’s 2021 ‘people-power’ umbrella ticking wave by casting only 10, 973 votes for Kyagulanyi, against the ruling NRM party candidate Museveni’s 38, 431 ballots.

Waiting to have many voters’

In the September 14 vote to replace deceased chairman Kadiri Kirungi, Aguuda faces stiff competition from first timer Uthuman Mubaraka Mugisha who is not only a son to the ex-district boss but also a scion of an influential family in Hoima-Bunyoro politics.

Mr Uthuman Mubaraka Mugisha, the NRM flag bearer.

Arriving in the battleground area with pledges of a shift from Hoima’s social crises marked by economic failure and rampant land conflicts, Kyagulanyi himself suggested that the by-election could spark the fire to change Uganda’s narrative of succession politics.

“President Museveni is shaking…this election will clearly show that everyone is tired of his dictatorship,” the musician turned politician emphasized in front of a charged crowd while campaigning for Aguuda in Kigorobya Town Council, which is near Uganda’s oil-wells projected to average about $2 billion per year when production starts.

While the poll is evenly poised between Aguuda and NRM flagbearer Mugisha, the pair also have a lively threat in defiant Hoima District NRM vice chairman Vincent Savana Muhumuza, who is standing- after refusing his party influence to step aside following his contested 88,97-11, 318 defeat in the primaries.

“We experienced numerous irregularities in our primaries which compelled me to run as an independent,” said the veteran politician who collected 11, 100 votes, losing to Kadiri (20, 391 votes) in the 2021 LCV election.   

Hoima LCV by election independent candidate Vincent Savana Muhumuza. PHOTO/ALEX ASHABA 

Aguuda is also braving back into competitive politics after he fell third with 1,550 votes, behind winning Hoima East Division Member of Parliament Patrick Isingoma’s 9,097 votes in the 2021 general elections. The NRM candidate in the same election, Jonard Asiimwe, was defeated as only 3, 888 electorates polled for him in a race of five.

On Monday, Aguuda told Monitor that Kyagulanyi’s visit was penultimate in swinging the pendulum in his favor despite Hoima District being a renowned NRM stronghold.

“His words are convincing. His voice will add to what we have been telling voters and we are waiting to have many voters converted from our opponent camps,” he remarked.

‘Worse if Muhumuza Savana wins’

Other candidates, by far struggling for support ahead of Thursday’s contest are Patrick Musinguzi of the crisis hit Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party and Lenox Mugume (independent).

Hoima LCV by election independent candidate Lenox Mugume (L) and FDC frontrunner Patrick Musinguzi. PHOTO/ALEX ASHABA 

Asked to comment on the impact of the by-election, 43-year-old Hoima voter Teopista Ngonzi said a “win for whichever of the leading contenders will simply be emphatic.”

“This is a grassroot election. If NRM wins or loses, that will be a statement regarding its leadership tenure… A NUP victory could also suggest the party’s or opposition’s growing support in rural Uganda,” she said.

She also added that: “Worse will be if Savana wins. That might show serious division in NRM and a challenge to politics of succession.”

Election observer Brian Ayesiga called for a generally free and fair election if any of the above hypothesis was to be tested objectively.

“The State is powerful and for now, everyone including Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja has camped here for more than a week---making it like a one-way traffic. If everyone is left on their own, that would inform a correct outcome,” he told Monitor in a Wednesday night interview.

NUP party president Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine moves through Arua City on September 13, 2023. PHOTO/HANDOUT 

Even as Kyagulanyi’s first phase of planned nationwide mobilization campaigns ended with a September 13 police ban on his intended similar activities, at least 7/10 randomly chosen from Hoima’s voting public agree that “Thursday’s election will be an experiment to examine crowd politics in the East African nation.”

The other 3/10 electorates who spoke to Monitor on the election eve soundedunded inconclusive but have "the 2026 general election in mind in as far as the crowds are concerned."


Police on Wednesday banned Kyagulanyi's mobilization over using “sectarian remarks and leading cause to remove President Museveni’s legitimate government.”

But NUP vowed to pressure on.