Street talk: can Gen Museveni hand over power?
I was fortunate to attend the Capital Radio lavish end-of-year party that spanned over three venues. Lunch was at a hotel beach after which we boarded, and spent hours on, a boat cruise ending up at another beachfront miles away. Plenty of fun!
For me, the fun was somewhat diminished on the way back home when an obstinate hired bus driver insisted, unreasonably, on having his way. The bonus is that I picked up a jolly taxi (special hire) driver who believed that he was well-grounded in Uganda’s street politics of the moment.
In his opinion, which was very wisely-delivered using a deeper voice and spoken slowly for emphasis, Go Forward’s Amama Mbabazi (JPAM) is going to win the vote come 2016! Why? I asked. “It is because Mzee is going to let him; JPAM is the chosen one,” so said my taxi driver! “But the Daily Monitor poll came out today showing Museveni (M7) is well ahead,” I responded, urging him on. Rubbish – was his opinion.
What about this business of poking a leopard in its unmentionables, I persisted? He would have none of it; and posed just a simple question. “Have you noticed that Kizza Besigye is leading in all rallies all over Uganda in this campaign trail? Now if he wins, what would happen to Mzee? Would KB forgive him?” Hmm, we drove in silence for about three minutes! Who could answer that?
In conclusion, the taxi driver asserted that the course must be made difficult for JPAM so that everyone believes that the election is earned; after all, M7 has many supporters that may not be willing to hand over to JPAM. Further still, Mzee needs a rest so that he can enjoy his vast cows and riches in peace!
Higher up, away from opinions of a nighttime taxi driver, all the presidential candidates contest the latest Daily Monitor poll. Political opposition groups argue that the poll did not consider the fear factor.
Interviewing or asking rural people questions about their intended votes in the company of local council and RDC agents, who are deemed NRM functionaries, may not produce honest answers, so they argue. Even candidate Joseph Mabirizi, who scores 0.1% in the poll, insists that there will be runoff! However, President Museveni and his team claim that this poll underestimates their strength, which they put at about 80 per cent.
The Daily Monitor poll put Museveni at 60 per cent. Research World International, a pollster that has been perceived as opposition-leaning, was expected to conduct its own polls at the end of December 2015. As we await their results, take note that the two polls conducted lately do not seem to agree with each other!
Daily Monitor’s shows Museveni leading in all areas including in urban centres and with a significant margin because the combined opposition has just 26% support.
On the other hand, Williams and Associates Opinion Research and Consulting Worldwide conducted theirs in October and it presents favourable ratings for JPAM, actually pitching him close to M7. Perhaps there is something wrong; what could have changed in a month? What both polls agree on is that the electorate is most concerned about corruption, followed by unemployment and youth disempowerment!
Disturbingly, most people do not believe that any of the candidates can solve these issues. And such opinions are held all over the country. Social media has been awash with memes and jokes on Museveni’s rude warning to JPAM’s security detail that thrashed NRM provocateurs in Ntungamo. M7 used an analogy of what can happen if one pokes a sleeping leopard’s behind to symbolise his power.
In his reply and rebuke to Museveni for his use of vulgar, un-presidential language, the usually-suave JPAM missed a beat by referring himself to a snake that can even swallow a live cow! A snake! Has he not played right into the hands of NRM people who refer to him as traitorous?
A lingering question that my taxi driver asked was that why is so much attention going to a five-per-cent-scoring JPAM?
Wishing you a happy and prosperous 2016!
The author is one of the founding Kigo Thinkers.