Making sense of Bobi Wine, Besigye formations

Jul 30, 2019

Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, unveiled a team of 140 coordinators last Wednesday, saying he was answering a question on everyone's lips.


KAMPALA - The recent formation of a team by Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi to spearhead his mobilization activities countrywide and Opposition activist Dr. Kizza Besigye's ‘state of the people's address mean political temperatures are rising, analysts have said.

Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, unveiled a team of 140 coordinators last Wednesday, saying he was answering a question on everyone's lips.

"Many people have been asking me about this and I think I have given them the answer. We knew that at some point we had to get some kind of structure," said the 37-year-old pop star turned politician.

The team comprised of over 10 MPs from other political parties such as Democratic Change (FDC), Democratic Party (DP), Uganda People's Congress, Justice Forum (JEEMA) and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM).

They include Kasese Woman MP (FDC) Winnie Kiiza who was appointed to head Rwenzori sub-region team, Erute South MP Jonathan Odur from UPC in charge of Lango, Amuria Woman MP Susan Amero from NRM (Teso), Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa from Jeema (Busoga) and Busiro East MP Medard Sseggona from DP (Kampala metropolitan).

Besigye, FDC's four-time presidential contender, congratulated Bobi Wine on behalf of his 'People's government' for taking an important step towards being structured.

The following day Besigye hosted the ‘people's parliament' at his residence in Kasangati, Wakiso district and delivered what he called the ‘state of the people's address'.

Some of the issues he addressed include poverty, insecurity and the rising foreign debt.

Asked to make sense of these formations, the associate professor of law at Makerere University, Ronald Mayambala, said both Besigye and Bobi Wine are trying to remain relevant and in touch with their voters amidst challenges.

"This is because President Yoweri Museveni is doing his countrywide tours to sensitise Ugandans on wealth creation and getting unlimited access to voters. So Bobi Wine and Besigye are also trying to show to their supporters that they are still active and they have alternative plans," Mayambala said.

He said of late the duo have been limited in terms of accessing their supporters. "So they decided to come up with this kind of thing to get the media coverage and also to try and reach out to their supporters," he opined.

His colleague Prof Mwambutsya Ndebesa, a lecturer of history and political science at the same institution, said factored in a set of five electoral reforms Government tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

They include one proposing a ban on an independent presidential candidate from entering into an alliance with any political party and another suggesting that political parties should not be allowed to have links with pressure groups.

"When you have Bobi Wine and Besigye's events and the five Government Bills together, I can see that the political temperature is going high with a lot of heat but no light because when you have heat that has no light and you are walking in the darkness, you can easily tumble down and fall," Ndebesa said.

He said what he reads in all the political events taking place in Uganda is that there is no national consensus and that there are no efforts to do so.

"And that does not build either democracy or the nation," he said.

However, by bringing together members and supporters from different opposition political parties to spearhead his mobilization activities across the country, analysts said Bobi Wine seems to be succeeding in coalescing opposition forces ahead of the 2021 elections.

"This is a good thing. However, for a movement like People Power, the strategic political focus should be on digging more into the NRM perceived or real support," Crispin Kaheru, the coordinator of Citizens' Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda, said.

He noticed that the NRM party through its government levers is "determined to frustrate" the People Power movement from coaxing support from political parties - through the electoral reforms it tabled in Parliament.

Kaheru contended that this is a hurdle that People Power will have to contend with.  "It is real, and I am sure the NRM government will do anything and everything possible to stop his movement from digging into its turf," he stressed.

Joachim Buwembo, a social and political commentator, argued that some candidates, either already in Parliament or those wishing to get in, will certainly align with Bobi Wine because of the successes he registered in helping contenders win some four by-elections.

"But also take into consideration of the new proposals limiting the ability of independents to make alliances," he added.

Govt dismisses formations

Government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo poured cold water on Besigye and Bobi Wine formations.

"Generally, NRM is not panicking over opposition formations and schemes, although it should listen and pay adequate attention to and address public grievances. Bobi Wine is simply copying what Besigye has done in the so-called people's government and assembly which is going nowhere although he keeps relaunching, including Thursday," Ofwono said.

He argued that the MPs and other people joining Bobi Wine "falsely believe that his con celebrity image, populism, and bravado" are attracting money from donors into which they can tap, and also use him for mobilization in their own elections as many intend to run for MP and other elective offices.

"Others, especially from NRM and independents think it's one way to attack NRM and President Yoweri Museveni attention, especially going by past experiences. But l still believe Bobi Wine and People Power is a blowing wind that will pass off. But as the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Let's wait and see," Ofwono said.

He pointed out Arua Municipality MP (Independent) Kassiano Wadri, saying he is among long-serving MPs who shouldn't be "sheepishly following Bobi Wine, especially when he (Bobi) hasn't as yet articulated any policy direction on any serious national issue".

What party leaders say

DP president Nobert Mao, who says on his Twitter account that he seeks to lead Uganda into a united, democratic, peaceful and prosperous nation, welcomed Bobi Wine's idea of speaking with all forces of change in this country.

"We deeply believe that we are stronger when we unite. We have made good progress, and we shall continue that effort right from here." We say "...whoever is not against us is for us"," he tweeted.

Maj Gen (rtd) Mugisha Muntu of the Alliance for National Transformation congratulated Bobi and his entire team upon this step.

"As we have always pledged, The Alliance recommits to working with People Power along with all other like-minded people and groups to bring about the democratic, social and political change our country so desperately needs," he said.  


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