Let me congratulate the people of Uganda for going through one of the most challenging election since Uganda got Independence. I also congratulate all those who won the elections genuinely. To the losers, my message is that please, don’t lose hope. Politics is dynamic and the next race will definitely be different from this year’s election.
To the 11 presidential candidates, my message is that of sympathy and consolation, particularly for the suffering and injuries you sustained during the election. For the Opposition candidates, they were subjected to all types of persecution and humiliation. Take the case of Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine. He lost more than 55 lives of his close supporters.
But even President Museveni deserves the consolation because of the bruises he incurred for being defeated in Buganda and Busoga. The bruises were visible on the President’s face when he addressed the nation on TVs from Rwakitura after being declared winner on Sunday, February 17. One of the critical factors that made a fundamental difference in this year’s election was the wave generated by Kyagulanyi. The wave or may be tsunami gathered momentum and transformed the election map of Uganda.
It defied the monetisation of election, which had blossomed during the last 35 years of the NRM rule in Uganda. More than 25 confident ministers, many of them swimming in seas of wealth in Museveni’s Cabinet, woke up on January 15 to realise that money had not worked for them and, in fact, they had lost to extremely under resourced National Unity Platform (NUP) candidates.
Since the first election held under the NRM government in 1996, President Musveni has been winning Buganda and Busoga. This time, he lost miserably and took 36 per cent while Kyagulanyi grabbed 62 per cent from Museveni in Buganda. In Busoga Sub-region, Kyagulanyi collected 437, 059 against 404,862 for incumbent President Museveni.
How has the shift in the vote pattern come about?
Different explanations have been advanced, including high youth unemployment, income inequalities, overstay in power by Museveni, mismanagement of Covid 19, neglect of Buganda’s demand for federo and access to information through all forms of media. During the presidential address to the nation after being declared winner, President Museveni alluded to tribalism.
Very few analysts have come out to put the persecution and oppression of Opposition candidates. The wave (amasanyalaze) around the personality of Kyagulanyi have been fuelled by two factors: First, Kyagulanyi distinguished himself as a strong political contender with exceptional ability for mobilisation and convassing for votes and support by the pro-change Opposition in Uganda.
This emerged in his victory of the Kyaddondo East parliamentary bye-lection in 2017. Second, the level of persecution and oppression of Kyagulanyi and the entire Opposition fraternity, has been increasing. Persecution involves many aspects of injustices towards the Opposition. It includes double standards in the application of the law.
It also includes misuse of public resources, including public funds and public human resources, illegal arrests and concocting charges against Opposition.
There was also intimidation of civilians through deployment of combat-ready soldiers and war equipment such as mambas against unarmed civilians, use of State security, including police, UPDF, SFC and intelligence organisations in a partisan manner to harass and intimidate its citizens, press, and Opposition; violation of rights of Opposition such as arbitrary arrests and detention without trial, prosecution of civilians in military courts, and all types of torture of civilians.
The highest form of persecution and oppression is cold-blooded murder of civilians who are not armed.
Let me conclude with the following 2 simple messages. To the Opposition, I give you an A-Level General Paper question:
In light of the foregoing discussion, how far true is the kiganda saying that Ensi egula mirambo (Winning state power requires sacrifice of lives?). To the NRM, the point is, persecuting and killing Opposition members does not deter or weaken the Opposition.
Mr Mayanja is a former presidential candidate.