Those who say that Bobi Wine is a big threat base on some of the following illusions: That elections in Uganda have been rigged in the past. That there are many youths in Uganda, hence, the youth will vote for Bobi Wine.
By Moses Byaruhanga
Since Bobi Wine came on the political scene and the emergence of "People Power", I have listened to many programmes on radio where the commentators give an impression that should Bobi Wine offer himself for presidency, he is likely to win.
Many people who make comments to such effect don't base themselves on good analysis. This kind of talk also scares our supporters who too don't go into deep analysis of political issues in the country.
Those who say that Bobi Wine is a big threat base on some of the following illusions: That elections in Uganda have been rigged in the past. That there are many youths in Uganda, hence, the youth will vote for Bobi Wine. That in the last elections, many Ugandans did not vote, so if they come out and vote this time round, those who never voted will vote for Bobi Wine.
Let me start with the last illusion that many Ugandans never voted in the last elections. According to the statistics available with the Electoral Commission, the voter register for the 2016 general elections had 15,277,131 registered voters. Out of these, 10,329,131 or 67.61% cast their vote. So those who say that many Ugandans never voted while voter turn up was close to 70%, did they expect 100% voter turn up? It has never happened in any democracy in the world that you get a voter turn up of 100%. The highest we have ever got in Uganda in recent times was in 1996 when voter turn up was 73%. Even if voter turn up in 2016 was 75% of the registered voters and President Museveni maintained 5,971,872 votes he obtained, he would still have won albeit with a smaller margin. So those who say that many people didn't vote in 2016 and that if they are mobilized to vote come 2021, President Museveni will lose don't know what they are talking about.
The assertion that the youth are a majority, hence, they will vote against President Museveni, is a fallacy. Since when have the Youth in Uganda been few? In all these elections President Museveni has won, the Youth have always been a majority. What influences a youth voter in Uganda? Like all other voters, the youth voter is influenced by the achievements of the NRM and what the NRM promises to handle in its manifesto. A youth in an area that is generally an NRM strong hold will vote for the NRM and related to this, is the fact that if a family is NRM, the youth in that family will vote for the NRM. This is also true if that family is in opposition.
The NRM is the only party in Uganda with a vibrant Youth League with 350,000 Youth Leaders at village level. If each of these NRM Youth Leaders is tasked to bring on board 10 Youth voters in their villages, that can mobilize 3,500,000 Youth voters. That is almost what Besigye obtained in 2016. He obtained 3,508,687 votes or 35.61%. So to the NRM people, don't be scared at all by this Bobi Wine political fever. In fact, Bobi Wine is the best thing to have happened to the NRM. The big effect Bobi Wine has had on the political scene is to split the opposition. Many of the supporters of Bobi Wine are the same people who never voted for President Museveni or the NRM. So the 3.5 million voters who voted for Besigye in 2016 are the ones who are mainly following Bobi Wine. If Besigye was to count his supporters today, he will definitely get less because some of them are with Bobi Wine. My analysis is that Besigye has lost most of his grass root supporters in the urban areas while he could still be retaining the ones in the rural areas. Among the elite, Besigye has lost some supporters to Gen. Mugisha Muntu. This to me is the best thing to have happened to the NRM. I don't see Besigye, Muntu and Bobi agreeing to one candidature come 2021. With each one thinking that they can make it, the NRM Presidential candidate will simply sail through.
Why will Ugandans vote for President Museveni come 2021 if he offers himself as a candidate? I will write more on this separately, but suffice to note is that Uganda under President Museveni has seen a lot of development in infrastructure like roads and electricity, where now we are targeting every sub county, UPE, USE, Health Services like immunization, provision of water in the rural areas, etc. The people where a new tarmac road passes even if they are not using it for their economic benefit, will mainly vote for the NRM.
As NRM we have had challenges in urban areas. Here we don't perform well because we have not addressed urban issues adequately. The interventions the President has made in Kampala in the recent past of giving tools and capital to Youth groups in Kampala/Wakiso area will have a positive effect on how these Youth will vote in 2021. We have had interventions in Kampala in the past and the political effect was remarkable. What the NRM has to do is to intensify on the projects in the urban areas targeting the youth so that we end the protest vote we get from the urban voters. The youth in rural areas too should be engaged by the NRM leaders.
On the question that the elections in Uganda are rigged, hence, if there is no rigging President Museveni will lose, this is based on a falsehood. Besigye and the opposition use this to explain their failure to win. After the last elections, Besigye called for International Auditors. He has never told us what he thinks he obtained. To make it simple, all the results for each polling station can be found on the Electoral Commission Website. For those who follow electoral processes in Uganda, each candidate has a right of being represented at each polling station by two agents. The agents of all the candidates witness the counting of the votes after voting time elapses. When all the ballots are counted, the results are entered in a Result Declaration Form which is supposed to be signed by the agents of all the candidates confirming the results entered on the Form to be authentic. If for any reason one of the agents has reason to doubt the results entered, he/she signs giving reasons why he/she doesn't agree with the said results. The EC in Kampala reads results coming from the polling stations around the country. Can anyone point out a polling station where the results posted by the EC on their website are different from what their agent had at that particular polling station? If Besigye in the audit he was calling for can come up with Declaration Forms with results different from what the EC has, I would give him audience. There have been incidences of ballot stuffing, even where it has been proved in court, the issue is that if all the total votes at polling stations where such incidences took place are added, they wouldn't affect the results of the winner in a substantial manner. Meaning that even if you repeated the elections because of such irregularities, the one who won would still win. I bring out this because there are those who say that in the Besigye petitions, Museveni survived by only one or two judges. They try to create an impression that had a majority of the judges ordered for a repeat of election, Museveni would lose. Well it happened in Kenya where the election was annulled and President Kenyatta still emerged as a winner. In the 2016 elections, President Museveni defeated Besigye with 2.4 million votes. How would Besigye recover that in a repeat election because there were irregularities in a few polling stations? The NRM only needs to consolidate its 5.9 million voters and add on more to win in 2021.
The writer is a senior Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs