Electioneering 2015 will make and bury many political lives

Next year is one of electioneering. It will be messy. Even bloody. Or maybe not. Who knows? I am on the pessimistic side. We never have an election that does not lead to loss of life directly attributed to electioneering. This is disturbing.

A lot of what happens in 2015 will have been shaped by 2014. Mr Amama Mbabazi gambled and lost. It appears that way thus far. Maybe he may yet surprise in 2015. For a man who literally staked his top jobs as prime minister of Uganda and secretary general of the ruling party, he has to show he is worth more. Short of running for President of Uganda under whatever partycoalitionalliance or platform, he will be seen as one of the biggest losers in Uganda’s political history.

If he settles for any other job that President Museveni, the close political partner he sought to dethrone, hands him out of magnanimity (for example as mere member of the NRM’s central executive committee) he will essentially have buried his political career. Nobody will ever see him as a man ready to lie in the bed he lay for himself, Besigye-style.

This closing year also brought the return from nearly 20 months of “self-imposed” UK exile of Gen David Sejusa. An officer, certainly. A gentleman? Not quite. One cannot just carry on as if his history as an enthusiastic, if vicious, military enforcer does not matter. That it matters to Ugandans was clearly demonstrated when the General’s lame attempt at a grand entry into Kampala from Sembabule 10 days after return bombed spectacularly.

Bizarrely, it came off as an infantile attempt at imitating Dr Kizza Besigye in 2005. It was Gen Sejusa, then known as Tinyefuza, who remotely commanded Dr Besigye’s arrest, touching off public protests.

Besides, one has to lack (or maybe have) a sense of humour to form a group with the name whose initials are FU. Yesu Kristo. Free Uganda. F.U.! And that is not to the General or his group’s leadership or anybody else for that matter.

Traditional Opposition
The traditional Opposition in the form of FDC, DP and UPC will continue to grapple with figuring out a way to dislodge President Museveni.

Use mass protests like seen recently in Burkina Faso or hope for a win at the ballot box? Some think the best-case scenario is for no candidate to return a 50-per cent-plus-one result. This would force a run-off compelling the Opposition groups to unite somewhat and support a joint candidate to whip President Museveni.

To even smell the possibility of a second round, the Opposition will have to show unity, a sense of purpose and organisational savvy to overwhelm the well-oiled, if shady, Museveni (State) machine. With intra-party sniping in FDC, UPC and DP, not even a visit to jajja’s shrine will yield much, if anything.

A real chance for the Opposition lies in the electoral process being simple, transparent and fair to all contending forces. Exactly the sort of thing a recent citizens’ national conference suggested. We will hear a lot from that group. The big problem for this group is that it is proposing a cocktail of electoral reforms, several of which either contradict each other or simply do not make sense. At some point, as we have noted out in this column before, the group wants the Electoral Commission to direct, supervise and monitor a special police unit charged with electoral matters. This amounts to redefining role of the EC. Some muddle there, perhaps.

Return of Lord Mayor
In other matters, the potential return of Lord Mayor (a pompous and utterly silly title) Erias Lukwago to his throne in Kampala may well cause more kavuyo (confusion) because Bible-wielding executive director Jennifer Musisi will continue to dig in with the not-so-quiet support of Mzee with the Hat. I assume Mr Lukwago is returning as the insurgent he was before – how you work inside a system and be an insurgent, not just a radical reformist, is confusing to me.

But all governmental politics in Uganda is confusing to me. Why would a president of a party, UPC, not show up to vote when his name is on the ballot for President of Uganda?

Lastly, Mr Museveni’s new slate of under-45 NRM leaders will be watched closely as they run the party’s secretariat. “Let them make their own mistakes,” the boss said as he sold them to the party’s central executive committee. Mistakes they will definitely make. Will they make many, will they make few? Will they be big or small? The first test for them is running the NRM primaries. Good luck to them.
Happy 2015 to us all.

Mr Tabaire is the co-founder and director of programmes at African Centre for Media Excellence in Kampala.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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