By Amb Henry Mayega
As the landslide re-election of President Yoweri Museveni on January 14, 2021, with 58.9% of the vote continues to send shock waves down the spines of his political enemies, disillusionment amongst Uganda’s recessing opposition groups and their western backers, tribal and religious bigots is fast turning into despair. Relatedly, it is also alluring to learn that most of the spoilt votes amounting to over three hundred thousand were Yoweri Museveni’s; an earlier opinion poll commissioned by the NRM party corroborates that figure because it had given the president 64% of the vote.
Elsewhere, the hither-to western dominated activity of observing elections in Uganda in particular and Africa, in general, is increasingly being taken over by African-grown poll observers; the East African Community and African Union observed Uganda’s recent electoral cycle and validated the exercise. That in a sense underscored Yoweri Museveni’s (Uganda’s best post-independence President) suggestion that African solutions are best for the continent. The opposition and their backers had initially decried the deployment of security forces in the run-up to and during the polls; which, surprisingly, was done by the US to deter protesters during Joe Biden’s inauguration! Regarding Uganda’s concluded electoral cycle, the EU and US assumed their accreditation would be automatic; that never was. What would have been the extra value added to the process anyway outside the AU’s and East African Community’s participation?
Anyhow, who did President Yoweri Museveni triumph over?
First, Uganda’s recessing opposition plus their friendly local and liberal international newspaper board room editors were part of the vanquished. The trio peddled a huge misnomer bordering on parochialism namely that Uganda’s youth would since they had gotten one of their own, vote with Bobi Wine who is in his forties anyway! Both, because of biased, wild, and partisan postulations, forgot that last year, the NRM had resoundingly won the youth council elections in which the so-called opposition was badly battered then. That huge youth infrastructure would later, inevitably, like it did last week, completely determine the stakes in favor of the mass party, NRM and Uganda’s post-independence best president, Yoweri Museveni. One leading opposition leaning newspaper even declined to publish its own sponsored opinion poll results on account of both the incumbent and the NRM leading the rest of the contesting pack.
Secondly, parochialism on the part of the opposition’s western backers was defeated by President Yoweri Museveni, fair and square. During the electoral cycle, there was a flurry of contraband foreign-sponsored activities many of them bordering on subversion; they manifested in form of externally underwritten below-table NGO/civil society intrigue and choreographs (like the less sagacious who were arrested in a room at Africana Hotel having established an illegal tallying center and the money laundering debacle by the CEO of Chapter Four), increased activism against Uganda by US congressmen Elliot Angel and Bob Menendez, scrambling by the EU and US to be accredited for observing the electoral process etc. Such intrusive exertions by foreigners were a humiliating affront to our national pride and in essence, constituted a flagrant violation of Uganda’s sovereignty and a breach of international diplomacy.
Thirdly, religious bigotry laced with tribalism was part of the parochialism defeated by Yoweri Museveni. There were suggestions by elements within the UJCC (not the entire UJCC leadership) that the elections be postponed for three years; the ostensible reason being permitting their “young NUP candidate” to gradually be sanitized in order to favorably compete for the presidency in the subsequent poll! By so doing they ignored the dependable and full-fledged sense of judgment of the Ugandan voter. Relatedly, tribalism was also flatly rejected nationally because Ugandans had trodden that path in the past with disastrous consequences! In their view, that belongs to the quondam. And what would the postponement have exuded? One of them would be that President Yoweri Museveni feared being subjected to an election and that Uganda’s constitution can be easily amended at the whims of our country’s CEO! The clerics who suggested that odious route would have comfortably and safely eschewed away from defending him; the weight lifting would consequently be left to the NRM cadres to face off with Uganda’s recalcitrant opposition!
Ambassador Henry Mayega
Deputy Head of Mission
Abu Dhabi, UAE