THAT the opposition has refused to concede they were heavily defeated in the last presidential election is no surprise. From the start, Kizza Besigye and his allies made it clear that they would not accept a result that favoured President Museveni and the National Resistance Movement (NRM), even when it was clear that the NRM popularity and support was increasing by the day.
In our local tradition there is nobody who dies without being bewitched. The opposition is behaving in a similar way by refusing to concede defeat. Besigye is reported to have spent the last week of campaigns emphasising the need to protect his votes.
He asserted that he had spent the last five years plugging the â€˜rigging holesâ€™ and making this election impossible to rig because he had deployed over 10 agents at every polling station and saved up to sh1.5b meant to protect his vote. Now that he has lost, he is also finding all sorts of excuses for it.
As it turns out, these bad losers are now calling for street protests, ignorantly equating Ugandaâ€™s situation to Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. After every five years, Ugandans go to the polls, and make their votes count. They put their leaders to account and those that have not measured up are dumped. That probably explains why to-date, no well-intentioned Ugandan has heeded this ill-intentioned call to create chaos and lawlessness.
Due to earlier threats by the opposition to declare their own election results, refuse to concede defeat and opt for the court of public opinion as opposed to the legally constituted mechanisms of redress, the city was for a short while engulfed by fear and tension, with empty streets and closed businesses. But after the results were announced, Kampala immediately went back to normal. The sidewalks are bustling, markets are open, and traffic is back. No one seems in the mood for a riot.
We made our choice and are not willing to support people that want to disrupt this peace and stability, putting our lives and property in danger. Most importantly, we know who we are dealing with. These are people who characteristically we never expected would have the grace to concede that they were defeated fairly. This is in spite of a huge winning margin of up to 42% between President Museveni, the victor, and Kizza Besigye, his closest challenger.
Numerous opinion polls by reputable firms, carried out prior to the election had pointed out this fact, but even the rest of the candidates that did not get as much as 4% combined have the nerve to refute the results!
Several times, the NRM has conceded defeat in areas where it lost to the opposition. When Democratic Partyâ€™s Betty Nambooze won against NRMâ€™s Bakaluba Mukasa in Mukono last year, the NRM accepted the loss. Similarly, Col. Walter Ochora of NRM was beaten just last week, but he too conceded defeat.
Why canâ€™t the opposition have the grace to concede defeat when they lose?
Another fact is that the NRM won in all the regions, a trend that was unprecedented.
Parliamentary majority increased to 76% and in the recently concluded district local council elections, the margin of victory was even higher. This is confirmation that even in the court of public opinion to which these losers want to appeal, they lost embarrassingly.
Accusations levelled against the NRM including the pathetic one about using a lot of money are misplaced and diversionary. To win an election, you need money. Media campaigns, transport, facilitation for agents, coordination of different campaign groups and all such efforts out into winning an election are not done on charity.
Even in developed democracies like the United States, President Obama needed an unprecedented $700m campaign budget, most of it solicited from friends and supporters, in much the same way the NRM got its funds. He did not use this money to buy votes.
Our constitution allows for a winner-takes-it-all result in the case where Ugandans have cast their votes. This time, the winner, is not in doubt because his margin of his victory is overwhelming. The calls for protests are misplaced and Ugandans will keep rejecting them.
Ugandans will not join opposition protests