What you need to know:
Supporters of Bobi Wine and those of Dr Kizza Besigye have spent their precious time spattering insults and ridiculing either of the two leaders.
Fighting an entrenched authoritarian regime is a tough task. It’s tougher when the incumbent’s primary source of power is the military.
World over, opposition parties that have to challenge authoritarian incumbents face enormous difficulties.
For Ugandans yearning for an end to the current rusted regime of rule, Uganda’s opposition landscape remains a huge disappointment.
Museveni is a savvy and sophisticate political actor. He is a specialist in violence, he has first rate grasp of the dynamics of statecraft, how to manage state power and keep a firm grip on it by maintaining full control over his internal matters while scattering his opponents.
This means that for his opponents to have any chance at upstaging him, whether through the ballot, an impossibility for a long time now, or through some kind of popular protests, they have to be on top of the game. They are up against a tough and rugged opponent.
Museveni overstates the threats he faces. His opponents, by contrast, underestimate his strength. In the end he easily prevails precisely because he leaves nothing to chance while his opponents either downplay just how tough he is to defeat or they assume that somehow things will miraculously work out!
Today, Uganda’s opposition forces are in their worst state of disarray in a long time.
The arrival of Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, as a leading challenger to President Museveni was a big plus in beefing up the ranks of those seeking to bring about progressive change. Instead, it appears that Kyagulanyi and his National Unity Platform (NUP) party have wrought discomfiture rather than emboldening the struggle for change.
Full disclosure: I did not support the candidature of Bobi Wine for president of Uganda. If circumstances had allowed and I were able to exercise my civic duty as a citizen to choose my president, I likely would have cast my ballot for either Alliance for National Tranformation’s Mugisha Muntu or Forum for Democratic Change candidate Patrick Amuriat.
But any day, I would fully defend brother Bobi Wine’s right to seek the highest office in the land. I just do not believe that given the kinds of endemic problems we face today, he is the right candidate to provide national leadership at the very top.
But that is my view, and I have only one vote.
Watching from a distance most of last year, one would not fail to notice a rather misguided excitement around the candidature of Bobi Wine going into the January 2021 elections.
The expectation that Bobi Wine was somehow going to defeat Museveni on the night of January 14 was as an illusion as you can ever find.
It appeared that Bobi Wine, his handlers including many among the diaspora particularly in the West, his deeply fired up legion of fans and other Ugandans rooting for change all believed the man was destined to do what Kizza Besigye had failed to in four different cycles: defeat Museveni at the ballot.
One of the most astonishing features of Uganda’s opposition politics over the last two years is the way supporters of Bobi Wine and those of Dr Kizza Besigye have spent precious time spattering insults and ridiculing either of the two leaders.
In recent months, on social media platforms, especially on the streets of Facebook and Twitter where I maintain some level of engagement, things had somewhat cooled down. Dr Besigye had taken a low profile having disengaged from the last electioneering season. His party, the FDC, got humbled with an underwhelming performance in parliamentary races.
The NUP and Bobi Wine, despite pulling off an impressive result to emerge as the majority opposition party in Parliament, nevertheless came to the rude realisation that the man and the government they seek to remove is going nowhere and willing to do anything to hold onto power.
Thus, the NUP seems to have settled for holding onto their place in Parliament with all the perks, power and privileges.
Following a mass defection of its incumbent MPs last year who decamped to the NUP, the Democratic Party has been all but on leave from Uganda’s political landscape. Worse, the Uganda Peoples Congress under the leadership of a son of its founding leader sold itself to the ruler.
In all, as per Museveni’s promise some years ago that come 2021 there will be no opposition to his rule, it appeared that indeed the opposition was dead and buried.
Then boom! Besigye steps forward with a few partners to launch a new pressure group as a vehicle for collective struggle.
Suddenly, all the raw emotions are triggered and we are back to the shouting marches that had taken a break.
Then ruling NRM and Mr Museveni do not need to engage in any talk. The NUP, FDC, DP and others are doing the job brilliantly!