What does each stand for?
Kampala, Uganda | RONALD MUSOKE | Following months of uncertainty, Uganda will hold the next presidential polls on Jan.14 next year with a record 11 candidates.
President Museveni, who has been Uganda’s president since 1986, is seeking another five year term after successfully removing a clause in the Constitution that would have, otherwise, barred him from standing on account of his age (he will be 76 next year).
Vying for the same position are 10 other candidates, including a 25-year old fresh graduate from Makerere University, a young woman candidate, two former bush war generals and two evangelical pastors.
With Museveni’s nemesis, Dr. Kizza Besigye, who has challenged him on four occasions opting out this time, political pundits say his main challenger this time will be Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu—the youthful former pop star also known as Bobi Wine. Other challengers include; Norbert Mao of DP, Uganda’s oldest party. He is also having a second shot at the presidency. In place of Kizza Besigye for FDC is Patrick Oboi Amuriat.
Whatever their chances, many say it is Museveni’s election to lose thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic which has made campaigning almost outlawed.
Simon Byabakama, the Electoral Commission Chairperson, says the political campaigns should be held in full observance of measures and guidelines instituted by the government to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Candidates will be allowed to hold campaign meetings but in a regulated manner, preferably outdoors with limited attendance of a maximum of 70 persons to enable the observance of the 2-metre social distance rule.
According to rules set by the EC, political campaigns that include processions and mass rallies are banned. Candidates will be allowed to speak to up to 70 people at any one time during the two months period which has been designated for the campaigns.
With over 130 districts to traverse in 60 days’ time, it will be a tall order for the other candidates. Still, following their successful nomination, the presidential candidates sounded unfazed and shared snippets of their manifestos of what exactly they intend to do for Ugandans if they are entrusted with the country’s leadership for the next five years.
Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Kaguta Museveni (National Resistance Movement)
He was the first to be successfully nominated on Nov. 02. Later in the evening, Museveni unveiled the National Resistance Movement 2021-2026 manifesto whose theme is: “Securing Your Future.”
Museveni is pledging to consolidate the gains his government has made over the last 35 years by focusing on creation of wealth and jobs, delivery of education and health, ensuring justice and equity as well as protecting life and property. “My priorities are defence – we must always have a strong army, then I add electricity, roads and railway, health, education and paying government scientists well and wealth funds,” said Museveni during the manifesto launch.
Museveni says the NRM government has an unmatched record of performance and a clear vision of securing future of all Ugandans.
He says the manifesto is only building on the success of NRM. “We are now ready for takeoff,” he said.
Museveni says after years of turmoil, it is the first time ever that Uganda is enjoying more than three decades of uninterrupted stable democratic process based on the ruling party’s core principles of democracy, patriotism, pan-Africanism and socio-economic transformation.
“In order to accelerate Uganda’s socio-economic transformation, I appeal to you for a fresh mandate for NRM to continue leading the country,” he said.
Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (National Unity Platform)
Kyagulanyi has promised to run a people-centred government where all Ugandans will fully enjoy all their freedoms. Kyagulanyi said shortly after his nomination that his would open a new chapter of action and close that of lamentation.
Kyagulanyi who was later violently arrested by police and whisked away to his home in Magere in Wakiso District says he is offering himself as a candidate to represent all the oppressed Ugandans.
“I am representing the weak, poor and downtrodden Ugandans,” he said, “I am representing those who have been excluded by a system which only works for the few who have patrons in high places. I am representing the over taxed business people; the parents who have sold their land to take their children to school but now the children cannot find jobs. I am representing the boda boda riders who are persecuted every side by the regime.
“I am representing those whose wives and mothers cannot afford maternal health, the business person who borrows at high rates, the local suppliers who are kicked out of government tenders because they know nobody in government.
“I am representing the poor Ugandans who have lost land to powerful land grabbers. He says Museveni and his cronies are so detached from the common person.”
Kyagulanyi says his government intends to increase the pay of the security forces (soldiers, police and prison officers) which he claims is miserable. He also intends to improve access to affordable quality health care for all Ugandans.
“We shall implement the Abuja Declaration and ensure that we spend at least 15% of our annual budget on the health sector. We believe that a healthy population is a productive population. In our government, the lowest paid worker should be paid at least Shs 1 million,” he said.
His government also intends to overhaul the education sector, create more jobs, and make agriculture the backbone of Uganda’s economy by zoning the country and aggressively promoting cash crops and food crops for each zone. He also intends to revive the cooperative movement, so as to secure markets, negotiate prices and provide post-harvest technology.
He also intends to focus on promotion of science and technology as a catalyst for economic growth and development.