The major highlight of the week has undoubtedly been the just concluded general elections in Uganda. It was a cliffhanger that many individuals were keen at some with expectations that the status quo would prevail and some with expectations that this would be a breakthrough in the national political leadership of the Pearl of Africa. Of course, with common sense, witnessing a win for Kizza Besigye and a loss for Kaguta Museveni was the 800 pound gorilla in the room.
So, apparently yesterday the Electoral Commission led by one Engineer Badru Kiggundu declared ironman Yoweri Museveni as the winner for the presidential contest with approximately 63% of the total votes cast. His friend-turned-foe Colonel(Rtd) Dr. Kizza Besigye came a distant second with about 32% of the votes. For Museveni it was a political victory to extend his 30-year rule but for Besigye it was a moral victory for the progressive Ugandans.
During the earlier times of his regime, the incumbent was overly critical of African leaders who occupied political office for relatively longer periods of time. He often remarked on how such leaders were the major bottleneck to the progress of socio-economic development in Africa. But he seems to have mastered and perfected this art of political leadership.
The general elections in Uganda, to say the least, were marred by claims of rigging among other electoral malpractices, activities which led to the rejection of the final results by the Opposition chief Kizza Besigye. There are events that took place which picture this election as one that wasn’t free and fair. One is the supposed delay in the start of the voting exercise across the country. If indeed the Electoral Commission was utterly prepared for this event I miss the point as to why it would allow delays in the kicking-off of the exercise.
Secondly, there were attempts by some of the police officers to literally and physically run away with ballot boxes after sensing that the Opposition was winning in some of the polling stations. This sounds a bit funny but it is a revelation on how the government machinery would do just anything to win the elections.
Thirdly, the orders issued by the state agencies to media houses and the Opposition not to run separate tallying of votes is also a clue that the votes could have been rigged in some areas. What if they were allowed to run the separate tallying of votes? This could be a recipe for chaos and being ‘wise’ the government honchos had to come up with measures to checkmate this move. Fourthly, the relatively large number of spoilt votes numbering 400,000 plus leaves a lot to be desired in terms of transparency of the polls.
All these events are a pointer that the governance institutions in Uganda have been highly compromised to sing the song of the Musevenism and even dance to the tunes and the beats of this political philosophy and establishment. The Electoral Commission and the police have been used to advance this agenda. In fact, there was a unit established under the police known as the Crime Preventers. This comprises of civilians who are supposed to ensure there is community policing. But the query is why such a unit was set up just when the general election was around the corner.
Many young Ugandans aged 30 years and below have been born when Kaguta was at the helm of the country’s leadership and they have never known any other president and there is a possibility that they will see him as the president for the next 15 to 20 years. Museveni believes that no any other person is suitable to be Uganda’s commander-in-chief apart from him and his family members. There is word that he is grooming his son, who leads the special forces of Uganda, to be the next chief executive.
Ssebo belongs to the political club and clique of African leaders who have been at the helm of political leadership for decades, surviving in power through the creation of reverie democracies. They allow elections to take place in fact on a periodical and regular basis to create the impression that they propagate democracy and its cardinals. Despite the fact that progressive democracy remains a mythology and illusion in most of the African states, reverie democracies have become the standard. The latter democracies are characterized with pre-determination of the election results a case that has been clearly evident in Zimbabwe and many other African states.
Uganda is certainly at the point where Kenya was during the Moi regime when state machinery and agencies were used efficiently to propagate the philosophical ideologies of the incumbent, a vice which ensured that elections were ‘won’. But for the end-of-an-era event to be witnessed in Uganda, it is for the citizenry to make it so. It is true that Museveni brought stability to Uganda after periods that were marred with coup d’états and very poor governance and the notoriety of Idi Amin Dada but methinks economic transformation cannot take place with him. During the electioneering period he issued a manifesto and you wonder what he’s gonna do different from the three decades to engender socio-economic and political prosperity.
The habit of some African leaders being at the helm for so long remains a matter to be discussed for another day; what exactly should be Africa’s brand of political leadership? Is it democracy or controlled democracy? Many may argue that Singapore, Malaysia and others engineered prosperity based on the latter model but should that be the standard? I do not want to pre-empt this treatise but in my next write-up I’ll try to figure out about this. Anyway, all the best to Ugandans as they begin another political chapter under Museveni’s oligarchy.