The Kizza Besigye factor in Uganda’s Opposition

Author: Asuman Bisiika. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Most of the leadership in the political opposition are motivated by the holding elective positions and the rewards that come with those positions.

Dr Kizza Besigye has once again captured the imagination of some Ugandans as the de facto leader of the political opposition in Uganda. He has led a retinue FDC faithful promoting the idea of officially leaving the party and forming another. Names of the new party have even been suggested.

The only hint I have on this matter is a remark attributed to Hon Ssemuju Nganda (MP, Kiira Municipality) claiming that very soon he will have officially quit FDC.

Wherever this FDC caravan led by Dr Kizza Besigye pitches camp, it attracts crowds. The question is then put to crowds: Should we form another political party? In general, the population seems to be more inclined to ditch FDC and forming another political party.

Question then is: How will a resurgent Besigye relate with Bobi Wine? Will the Hon Mathias Mpuuga be a factor in how Dr Besigye relates with Bobi Wine? Or to even be bold enough: is Dr Besigye likely to appear on the presidential ballot paper?

Some time back, there was an inter-party news conference at Dr Besigye’s office on Katonga Road. It was one of those rare moments where the political opposition in Uganda are united over issues not related to sharing something or pushing some partisan or selfish agenda.

Leaders hitherto known to be unfriendly addressed the public from the same lectern. And then they executed the protest they had planned. Was this the beginning of a united force that will ‘eventually’ remove Mr Museveni from power?
In May 2010, Daily Monitor published the findings of an opinion poll on the popularity of potential presidential candidates and their parties for the 2011 elections. In the findings, the NRM and Mr Museveni scored higher marks than Dr Besigye and the FDC. However, Museveni didn’t get the constitutional 50 percent and above requisite.

A meeting was then held on June 9, 2010 at Uganda Media Centre to study the opinion poll results and formulate a response. This meeting was attended by Mr Odrek Rwabogo of Terp Consult, a respected Ugandan journalist working at one of the major dailies, a statistician from one of the big boy commercial banks in town and socio-political analyst. 

I was in attendance as the infamous fly on the wall. The statistician was brought in to ‘put holes’ in the opinion poll results. His advice: No area to challenge since they (organisers or researchers) are open with their methodology, sample space and sample space characterisation. 

The journalist (from a major daily) advised that the only way to respond to an opinion poll is to hold your own. The socio-political analyst was tasked to write a brief to Mr Amama Mbabazi, then NRM secretary general and minister for Security. Mr Fred Opolot, then executive director for Uganda Media Centre, took the brief to Mbabazi.

Whereas the conduct of opinion polls is relatively new in Uganda, there has been some level of acceptance that they represent the pulse of voting patterns in the country. They give the candidate who is favoured by the findings some kind of psychological edge over the other candidates.
Most of the leadership in the political opposition are motivated by the holding elective positions and the rewards that come with those positions. Elections and the resultant elective offices are important.

Whereas the holding of positions can be used as a protest front, however, opposition leaders tend to be complacent and distant from the voters and the electorate’s issues. Indeed, in Parliament, the sharing of money is more important to opposition MPs than the removal from power of a man called “Dictator Museveni.”

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