By Fred Kiva
KAMPALA. Less than two weeks ago, four time presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye, in an interview with the BBC, said the government had not organized Local Council elections, for ‘fear that the opposition would win them’. It however didn't take long until this was dispelled as the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) swept majority slots in the elections, including in known key opposition strongholds like Kasese and Rukungiri.
Prior to the LC polls, some sections of the public had argued that the outcome of the election would reflect the feelings of Ugandans towards the ruling NRM party regarding last year’s Constitution amendment to remove age limits on candidates seeking to contest for the presidency.
It is important to note that this argument intensified after NRM candidates lost by-elections in Jinja East and Rukungiri. If this line of thought is anything to go by, Ugandans seem to have then approved what their representatives in the August House did.
Data from the NRM Electoral Commission as of July 11 indicates NRM winning with 69 percent, while opposition combined had 9percent and independents had 22percent.This was as per data from 53,340 (88perecent) out of the 60,800villages.
According to the party’s Electoral Commission more data will be available after residual elections of 11/07/2018. Elections were suspended in 633 villages on Tuesday as a result of incidents of violence.
The ruling party also won in key opposition strongholds like 16 out of the 17 sub counties, Divisions and Town councils in Rukungiri district, which is FDC’s Col Dr. Kizza Besigye’s home area.
With results of 88 percent of the villages already in NRM’s landslide victory in these village polls is now a no-brainer.
Scholars weigh in
Mwambutsya Ndebesa, a political science lecturer at Makerere University says the ruling party’s victory exposes the organizational lapses within the opposition, to the fact that in many villages NRM went through unopposed.
“I am learning that most posts were unopposed! Meaning that there were no leaders to mobilize and encourage people to stand. There is no opposition leadership in the country,” Mwambutsya said, adding; “Even if it’s there (Opposition) they are ambiguous in their minds, they don’t know what they want.”
In the 2016 presidential elections opposition candidates claimed they had been cheated with four time Presidential candidate and FDC’s flag bearer Col Dr. Kizza Besigye went ahead to swear himself in as president in protest of the election outcome.
However a look at the 9percent win the opposition managed in Tuesday’s LC polls gives a contrary picture.
With the 69 percent win NRM is already assured of key mobilizers at village level where genuine support in any election lies.
NRM to win 2021 comfortably
Ndebesa says that unless the opposition goes back to the drawing board, NRM will be assured of even a more comfortable win in 2021.
“Unless the opposition goes back to the drawing board, the situation will be the same in 2021,” Ndebesa said while weighing on the ruling party’s victory in the village polls.
President Yoweri Museveni andwho is also the NRM Party Chairman in a message sent out on Wednesday evening said the massive victory has proved critics wrong.
“The enemy media like the Monitor newspaper and allied groups plus their foreign backers, think that Ugandans are fools or blind. They think that Ugandans cannot see the truth. Now, in one week, they have massively shown those evil people that Ugandans cannot be fooled. In the women councils, the NRM won massively by taking 256,100 positions out of a total of 303,460 positions. The NRM independents took another 27, 069 positions. The NRM percentage was 84.5% while that of its independents 8.9%. The opposition groups, together, got 6.6%,” The President said, adding;
“In yesterday's (Tuesday) LC1 elections, the NRM has won more massively.”
NRM’s Communications Officer Rogers Mulindwa says the victory is proof of the NRM government’s increasing popularity despite criticism from the opposition.
“The results as retrieved by our tally center illustrate the party’s increasing popularity countrywide despite the endless criticism from opposition leaders,” he said.