Around this time in 2016, I wrote a lengthy post detailing why my choice for President was Dr. Besigye. My argument then revolved around the dangers of stagnation – when a particular group of people are in power for decades, the country never gets to see the benefits of “renewal” at the top. No fresh ideas, no renewed energy, no sense of empowerment of “The People” who the Constitution claims power belongs to, no accountability etc. Conversely, the disadvantages of staleness abound – a lethargic, disengaged civil service, reckless impunity at all levels of government and society since there are no consequences and bewildering levels of patronage as the main tool of power retention. Five years on, nothing much has changed. If anything, the past one year has proved to us that the current government:
- cannot be trusted to make the correct decisions in critical situations (otherwise, we wouldn’t be having this election in the middle of a pandemic and all the money spent on teargas would have been used to secure vaccines)
- cannot effectively/efficiently distribute simple items like masks let alone food to all its citizens
- cannot come up with appropriate stimulus packages to help the private sector afloat (talk to any private school teacher to understand exactly what I’m talking about)
- will not hesitate to kill, maim and lock up innocent citizens just to show that it is all-powerful (read the Daily Monitor stories about those we lost if you haven’t and see if you’ll manage to hold back tears)
In essence, the government has showed us exactly why they shouldn’t be voted back. As I publish this, they have once again disrupted the very internet connectivity that so many of us are relying on during this pandemic to keep working, studying and even fellowshipping. They have also unleashed an absolute campaign of terror primarily on the NUP (with many of its supporters behind bars if they’re lucky and disappeared/dead if they’re not) and to a lesser extent on FDC. While doing all this, they’re callously gaslighting us with a “Peace” campaign that should have, in all fairness, been restricted to police and military stations and barracks.
That the ruling party is proud to be a one-man show, unable and/or unwilling to look beyond him to the future is proof that they don’t deserve your vote.
Unlike 2016 however, I will not endorse any candidate this time round. All I can say is we need change. Luckily enough, we have a diverse field of opposition candidates this year and I trust that every change-loving voter will find one that best aligns with their values and aspirations. Whereas ANT’s candidate, Mugisha Muntu, is the one that comes closest to the kind of leader I’d personally like to see replace the incumbent, I completely reject all the barbs that are continually thrown at Hons. Kyagulanyi and Amuriat and the others. Let people choose who they want – period. I have always argued against the notion of a joint opposition candidate for the simple reason that democracy requires people to freely choose the candidate of their choice based on whatever criteria they want. Fronting a single opposition candidate therefore denies citizens of that choice especially since our laws stipulate that the winner must get more than 50% of the vote. With that stipulation in place, the more candidates, the merrier. If the combined cast is unable to deny the incumbent half of the votes, then they don’t deserve to take over. If they do however, then we can throw our support behind the one opposition candidate that goes to the run-off.
Guess what? I believe there is a distinct possibility of a run-off this year even though many mock the idea. But the way I see it is simple: Hon. Kyagulanyi may take a sizeable chunk of the Buganda vote as well as a reasonable share of the youth vote nationwide. FDC’s POA could sweep Teso and put in a reasonable showing in a couple of other areas where his party’s structures as the strongest challenger since it’s inception may make a difference. Then, much as Mao hasn’t had a great campaign by any standard, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that he could do well in Gulu and other northern areas. Finally, ANT’s Mugisha Muntu is a dark-ish horse – not in the sense that he will challenge NUP’s Kyagulanyi but in that he could very well steal some of NRM’s hitherto assured votes. I also suspect he will take a large chunk of the so-called “middle-class” – the ones who will bother to show up, that is. I don’t expect the rest of the candidates to poll more than the low single digit percentages but these 4 leading contenders could easily take a combined 50+% of the vote. I’m very reluctant to guess figures but I’ll give it a go:
- NRM – 42%
- NUP – 28%
- FDC – 16%
- ANT – 7%
- DP – 4%
- Others – 3%
Please vote this coming Thursday. It will count.