The two opposition faces with other standing opposition politicians from DP clearly refused to read moods
By Ssemanda Allawi
For about a month, Uganda's opposition politicians camped in Hoima campaigning for what may be termed as ‘opposition' candidate for Hoima district woman MP (by-elections.) From People power's Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine, to FDC's Kiiza Besigye, Patrick Amuriat, DP and ANT's Mugisha Muntu, all opposition chiefs camped in Hoima district campaigning for FDC's Nyakato Asinansi who despite being FDC's candidate right from nominations to the last campaigning date, campaigned in People Power's colours and red beret.
At one-time moment after campaigning, Bobi Wine described the presence of several opposition politician leaders in the district to campaign for FDC's candidate as a positive development in opposition stressing that it showed that it is possible for opposition politicians to be united while some pundits argued it was a sign that it possible for opposition parties to present only one presidential candidate in 2021 polls.
There is no doubt that what seemed like great unity among opposition parties coupled with the so-called People Power wave, must have made politicians in people power and entire opposition think "Kyagulanyi effect" would deliver opposition another MP as it was the case in the past by-elections such as in Rukungiri, Bugiri and Arua municipality where people power leaning candidates made it.
For Bobi Wine, no doubt Hoima District Woman MP by-election was yet another chance for him to test his so called People Power wave otherwise known as "Kyagulanyi Effect." Indeed, while campaigning for Nyakato, he often told the crowds "bambi temutuswaza" which is loosely translated as please don't shame us. However, going by results, one can attest that voters in Hoima rejected his message - or that they indeed ashamed him.
Of course, like FDC's Kizza Besigye, Bobi Wine too likes crowds. Crowds that often showed up for Nyakato's rallies in some way may have convinced them that they were going to win. However, they forget that large crowds at rallies and turning up to vote in large number are two very different things.
The two opposition faces with other standing opposition politicians from DP clearly refused to read moods of time and believed in crowds. They failed to realise is that, if you take a goat and a wold to the market, the wolf will definitely attract more crowds than the goat! However, when it comes to going back home, very few will choose to return home with a goat not the wolf!
Even the claim of vote rigging, right or wrong pauses serious questions about opposition's strategy to win an election. One really wonders if all opposition forces failed to secure a win in a district or to guard their votes as they claim of foul play, will they really make it when it is national competition? Maybe the talk of "they cheated" us is simply meant to psyche his supporters to wait for a miracle.
As Indira Ghandi taught us, questioning is the basis of all progress, and those who don't question are condemned to live in bondage. Therefore, I ask; is it possible that FDC's doctor Kizza Besigye is not as clever as we think? Brave as some of his fanatics claim? If he has a history of being cheated every election as he often claims, can we really say that he is clever?
Maybe I should hypothesize that whereas there is talk of opposition unity, some key FDC members like Ingrid Turinamwe were nowhere in Hoima to drum for their party's candidate! Actually, even the leader of opposition in parliament who is FDC's face in the house was nowhere in these campaigns. Maybe it is not wrong to conclude that many FDC officials already knew that they have no support in Hoima and their candidate cannot win or they did not believe in the party gods and have opted to apply McCarthyist theory and remain silent? Could it be as a result of FDC's failure to realise that the ground bellow their feet upon which they stand has shifted and therefore some party officials have decided to communicate in silence?
I will therefore ask again, is Besigye walking into what we call the McCarthyist trap where cruellest lies are told in silence? And under this political situation the greatest mistake is being nice. My question therefore is; are Besigye people telling Besigye the cruel lies in silence? Are they communicating something and this is why they are silent about obvious things? Have they learnt from Besigye having failed to win elections four times despite having big crowds that he tells Ugandans politics yet all they want is leadership? Did they learn that the ground changed but they can't tell their boss this cruel ‘lie' and so have decided to tell him in silence by not campaigning for his party's candidate?
For public interest we should ask ourselves; what explains absence of some known FDC officials who are known to embrace campaigns for the party's candidates? Despite being very sure that FDC candidate in Kaabong had less than 1% chances of winning this seat as opposed to Hoima where the race seemed tight, some FDC officials such as the party's secretary-general Mafabi camped in Kaabong not Hoima. Is it logical that FDC decided not to give all its attention to Hoima where they had some chances of winning and opted to divide their efforts to Kaabong where their candidate had written withdrawing her candidature? Things seemnot to add up well here.
Would one be wrong to argue that this was FDC's trap for Bobi Wine to demystify the belief among people power supporters that mere association of yourself with People Power is a direct ticket to winning?
In my view, Bobi Wine's decision to support FDC candidate openly presented FDC opportunity to present Hoima Woman MP by-election as a political assassination move to demystify Bobi Wine's influence in opposition politics. They used this by-election to assemble political hitmen with people power not NRM as a target. In fact, FDC's Nyakato candidature was engineered as a political suicide pill to be swallowed by Bobi Wine. Fortunately, in my view all opposition heavyweights from FDC, DP, ANT and Bobi all swallowed this FDC-made political suicide pill.
Whether their intention was to demystify Bobi Wine's influence in Uganda's opposition politics, to those who can read a cobweb of politics, the results showed that even if Uganda's opposition front one candidate against NRM's President Museveni, they will be squarely beaten!
The writer is a PhD candidate in International Relations and the author of Global Governance & Norm Contestation: How BRICS is Reshaping World Order.