What makes the NRM win? First, people vote for programmes.
By Moses Byaruhanga
Two weeks ago the New Vision published my article titled Bobi Wine is the best thing to have happened to NRM. I pointed out that those who say that Museveni will loose the 2021 elections because in 2016 many people did not vote were not basing their analysis on facts. In 2016, 67% of the registered voters voted.
I also pointed out that Bobi Wine will be sharing the same supporters with Dr Kiiza Besigye, hence, the title of the said article that Bobi Wine is the best thing to have happened to NRM. I have since heard that some of the supporters of Bobi Wine attacked Dr Besigye when he was coming from a radio station.
Over the weekend, I watched a clip where Dr Besigye was being asked if he supported Bobi Wine. In short Dr Besigye's response was that there was nothing on which he would base his support to Bobi Wine because he had not come up with a rallying idea. This is a common problem with the opposition in Uganda. They come up with a common agenda that Museveni's ‘agenda' but they don't offer their policies.
Who is supporting Bobi Wine now? The very people who didn't support Museveni in 2016 are the ones who support Bobi Wine. Today Bobi Wine is sharing them with Besigye and Gen. Muntu. If they were not a majority in 2016 what will make them a majority in 2021? One opposition MP told me that Bobi Wine was not electable material for the President, notwithstanding any following he has.
This hype is not new. In 2015, I recall talking to a gentleman who was convinced that Amama Mbabazi was going to win. I told him that it was impossible for Amama to win. After the elections, I met him again and he said I was right in my analysis. When Bobi declared that he was ready for 2021, one would have expected the issues he will be addressing. I have heard those who say that after all we have had Amin before, surely, should we get another Amin?
Those who want to please themselves that this time they can defeat Museveni say that many new people have registered and they assume that the new people on the register will vote for Bobi Wine. Well, the facts are that in 2016, the voters' register had 15 million voters. Out of these, 67% or 10 million voted and President Museveni obtained 5.9 million votes and Besigye had 3.5 million votes. President Museveni beat Dr Besigye with 2.4 million votes.
As of today, the register has 17 million voters. Many people registered when it became compulsory that in order to register a phone, one had to have a National ID. Also, during the verification of public servants and pensioners, it was mandatory that one had to have an ID. So are all the new people on the register Bobi Wine supporters? The answer is No. These will be shared out among all the candidates.
Out of the 17 million voters, if we have a 70% turn-up in 2021 that means 12 million voters will vote. In order to get 51% which is required for one to be declared a winner in Uganda's Presidential elections, one needs 6,120,000 of the 12 million voters if 70% of the 17 million voters vote. Assuming that the 5.9 million voters that voted for President Museveni stay intact with him, he will need an additional 220,000 new voters for a simple win. For a comfortable win of at least 60%, he will need 7,200,000 of the 12m. This means he will need an additional 1.3 million votes.
On the other hand, with the opposition's 3.6 million including those who voted for Mr Amama Mbabazi, this being the starting point for the opposition, they will need 2.5 million votes to get a 51% win. If they are to aim at a 60% win, they will need an additional 3.6 million votes.
I have used assumptions above but they are useful for any political analysis. It is clear that even if all the new voters on the register were to vote for the opposition, they still wouldn't win. For them to win, NRM must lose a lot of supporters to the opposition. On the other hand, the NRM needs to mobilize a few new supporters for it to win. This is a simpler task. What the NRM has to do is to consolidate its support and win over a few others.
What makes the NRM win? First, people vote for programmes. With the focus on the development of infrastructure i.e, roads and power generation and extension, the NRM that has been responsible for these programmes will get votes across the board whether Youth or older people. So those who argue that the youth will vote against President Museveni are simply misplaced. Yes, some will vote against him but many will vote for him. The youth and the others will vote for the programmes President Museveni has carried out and the new ones he will be promising. This is the reason President Museveni has been winning all along.
Coupled with the above, is the organizational structure of the NRM. Out of 70,000 villages, the NRM has 30 leaders per village. This translates into 2.1 million voters. These have their own families who vote with them. You have the village Councils, Women Councils, Youth Councils and PWD. In all these, the NRM always has a majority. It will be a hard task for Bobi Wine or anyone in the opposition to have such organizational machinery like the NRM.
At other levels, you have Councillors at Sub-county level and District level together with Sub-county Chairpersons and District Chairpersons. The NRM has about 80% of all the Councillors and Chairpersons above. These while campaigning for themselves also campaign for the NRM Presidential Candidate. They even put in their personal resources. At the National level, you have the MPs, 70% of whom are NRM. These will be campaigning for themselves and the NRM Presidential Candidate.
It is impossible for the opposition or Bobi Wine for that matter to beat President Museveni come 2021.
The writer is a senior presidential adviser on political affairs