Museveni will NOT leave power, even if he loses.

18 02 2016

Ugandans went to polls this morning to decide who takes the country’s top job. There are 8 candidates in the race but the two dominant contenders are; Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (who is trying to extend his 30 year old regime) and Forum for Democratic Change’s, Dr. Kizza Besigye (who is contending for the forth time).

Yahoo Photo. A Ugandan casting a ballot earlier today.

Yahoo Photo. A Ugandan casting a ballot earlier today.

In Kampala, the capital, voting started between 2 to 7 hours late at most of the polling stations. Voters who turned up at 6am to queue up, anticipating of start casting their votes at 7am were disappointed when they learned that the Electoral Commission (EC) had NOT delivered the ballots and other supplies on time. The voters braved the hot sun for hours waiting for the commission to deliver ballot papers and boxes. Some of the polling stations received the ballot papers 45 minutes before the 4pm, when the voting exercise was set to end. Kampala and neighboring Wakiso are believed to be opposition strongholds and the delay to deliver voting material has been viewed as a deliberate act to deny the opposition the much-anticipated victory.

Live television coverage and social media updates from various parts of the country reveal that the process was mostly peaceful but with many inexcusable glitches caused by the EC. Cases of people found in possession of pre-ticked ballot papers have been reported around Kampala and Ntungamo. In fact, one polling officer allegedly issued two pre-ticked ballots in favour of Museveni to one of the voters – this caused some tension at the polling station.

This morning, the Uganda Communications Commission issued a directive to internet and mobile money service providers to block access to Twitter, Facebook and the mobile money transfer services. The ingenious citizens were one step a head of the technologically inept commission. They resorted to VPNs and Proxies to stay connected. Some of the incidents that happened at the polling stations were exposed on social media – with video and photo evidence.

The incidents Ugandans witnessed today show the problem with “Uganda’s democracy”, it is hooked to Museveni’s influence on the entire electoral process. These incidents assert fears expressed by Museveni’s contender that the vote was rigged long before the election day.

Museveni’s regime has mastered the art of not only keeping the opposition in check but also tightened its grip on the media making it impossible for journalists to report freely and openly about issues of service delivery, let alone election irregularities. The ruling NRM party has used the loopholes in the government’s institutionalized corruption to continue tightening its grip on power. The police and the army have on several occasions made controversial stands and remarks siding with the regime.

During the campaign period, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development have shown their support to Museveni through using public funds to sponsor TV commercials that are partisan. The adverts show how the government has focused on building and equipping hospitals, and creating opportunities for the youth in the past 30 years.

Museveni’s has used national television to openly intimidate people using the rhetoric that quite frankly suggests that if Ugandans vote him out of office, there will be no peace. Infact, the Secretary General of NRM, Justine Kasule Lumumba warned “the state will kill your children” if they try to disorganize stability and she added that “the government of NRM is NOT going anywhere”.

But Uganda’s problem is far beyond voting one man, Museveni, out of power. The problem is more about getting rid of a regime that has infested every public office, media house, corporate company with its own ideals and priorities at the expense of the needs and freedom of Ugandans.

Uganda has a very painful past and many quite frankly agree that let Museveni rule until he is tired. Ugandans just want peace and a peaceful transfer of power. This does not mean that many or even majority of Ugandans do not want change, but every time this discussion comes up the big question remains:

“At what cost?”

KCCA Saga: Whose war is it? Museveni Vs. Lord Mayor Vs. Jennifer Musisi

23 11 2013

I will never forget the day Kampala took to the ballot to vote the mayor of the city. After the long heated campaigns the day had come for the people to decide. There were two iconic figures in the race. Elias Lukwago – an influential member of opposition and Peter Sematimba a businessman, pastor and once a DJ who came on the NRM ticket.

What made the Mayoral contest so exciting was that it came only days after the presidential election, which the opposition insisted, had been rigged. So the opposition members set a new mission – to make it impossible for the NRM to rig the mayoral elections.

At 8Am word had started going around that the vote had been rigged in favor of  the NRM candidate. This was almost unbelievable because the polling stations were not supposed to open until 9Am. However at 8Am the ballots were almost full at many of the polling stations around the city.

Kampala mayoral poll riddled with vote rigging – YouTube

Kampala mayoral vote chaos – YouTube

I suppose NRM had no better way to show how much they loved to have one of their own to head or should I say rule Kampala city. This is probably the most desperate and stupid move NRM has ever made to gain control because in the aftermath Lukwago won the disputed contest with landslide victory.

The ballot was lost but NRM was not about to lose the fight! President Museveni appointed an executive director for the Kampala City Council Authority. Jennifer Musisi became the first Executive Director of this city.

Perhaps Museveni was not concerned about the consequences of his actions but when he appointed Jennifer he wedged a gap in the Kampala City Council Authority creating stiff competition between the Mayor and the Executive Director of Kampala where each is always working to win the people’s support.

Opposition members say that this was part of Museveni’s long-term plan – to control Kampala city. Did I mention that on top of the Lord Mayor and the Executive Director, President Museveni also appointed Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister of Kampala! Ironic. Right?

The difference between Lukwago and Jennifer is the nature of tactics and resources they use to achieve their objectives. Some people say that Lukwago is using traditional tactics – using his position to win the favour and support of market vendors and taxi drivers. Jennifer on the other hand is using all the resources available at her disposal to appeal to the urban elite who want clean road and less congestion in the city.

I must say that I am quite impressed at how much Jennifer Musisi has accomplished in such a short time. But then again this is her job. And her master appointed her so she can impress people like me. However one thing that I really don’t understand is what does Jennifer’s master want in return? What is his motive? I know he wants something.

My friends say that I should stop criticizing and show appreciation for the things that have been well done. Well, naturally I question a lot.

We live in the world where the devil will give you all the riches you need and yet the same devil will strip you naked, insult you in public and eventually take back everything that belongs to him. So, I question everything, everyone.

I am not saying that the developments changing Kampala’s face for the better are actually a devil’s works but I am certain these developments go beyond political interests. Again whether these are personal interests I wouldn’t know (yet).

To many Ugandans, Kampala is the capital but to politician Kampala is a springboard to power. So, technically if the people of Kampala like you, you can (almost) lead anywhere in this country. Why? Because the people of Kampala are hard to please! But these same people also fall for the smallest of things.

The Lord Mayor of Kampala has been in jail twice in the past week alone. According to a recent KCCA tribunal report, the Lord Mayor was found guilty of abuse of office, incompetence and misconduct. The Mayor was arrested as he attempted to leave his home. Uganda Police suspected that he was planning to organize a rally near Kiseka market, downtown Kampala to brief people about the report, which the mayor maintains is nothing, but blackmail. Many people have predicted that this is the end of Lukwago’s reign.

But Lukwago still claims his position and insists that the people of Kampala voted him into office and that only the voter can determine his fate.

Kampala has become a battleground. The real victims of the fight are the people of Kampala and yet this virtual war seems to be far from over. The increasing fights in the Kampala City Council Authority seem to be between the Lord Mayor Elias Lukwago and the Executive Director, Jennifer Musisi but there seems to be more than what meets the eye. President Museveni has been highly implicated in the fight even though he insists that he is not involved.

One question remains, what does the fall of Lukwago mean to the people of Kampala? Whose win is it? The people? Jennifer Musisi? Or Museveni?

Is it possible that after losing the ballot, NRM is trying to push its luck to control the capital forcefully? Do the people of Kampala have a say in this?

Perhaps I am just being cynical (just like the Lord Mayor) but looking at the events that have unfolded since Lukwago came to office I have a strong feeling that this fight is not about to end.

I am keen to see how this will end.

KCCA votes on Monday to kick out Lukwago

Simon Kaheru has some interesting commentary here: out with lukwago; you could be next