He should be harmonising and reconciling a divided country, say critics
Kampala, Uganda | RONALD MUSOKE | Why exactly did President Yoweri Museveni sound angry just hours after being announced winner of the Jan.14 presidential election? Museveni, 76, beat 10 other contestants including a 25 year old novice.
Museveni received 5,851,037 votes (58.64%) while his closest challenger, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu of the National Unity Platform (NUP), got 3,475,298 (34.83%) of the total votes cast.
But just five hours after Simon Byabakama, the head of the Electoral Commission, declared the incumbent the winner of the polls on Jan.16, Museveni appeared particularly peeved by the huge loss he suffered in Buganda, an influential political bloc in the country.
Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine who comes from Gomba District in central Uganda garnered 62% of votes cast in Buganda compared to Museveni’s 35.91%.
But, while voters in western Uganda where Museveni comes from returned the favour by voting overwhelmingly for the incumbent (80.60% vs 14.03%), Museveni blamed his party’s poor showing in Buganda on Robert Kyagulanyi’s sectarian election campaign.
“In some of the voting, the pattern which we saw, for instance, in Buganda, very interesting; you can see some of that (sectarianism),” Museveni said.
“I have been following what has been going on. There is nothing I don’t know. I know who has been meeting who; who was giving money to who (sic); I know all that.”
“They were talking of a new Uganda. But actually they wanted to bring back the old Uganda that failed. That is what they wanted to bring back: the old way of sectarianism.”
Museveni likened the “NUP wave” in Buganda to the 1960s Baganda-dominated political party—Kabaka Yekka—a Ganda-centric political organization that rallied around Buganda causes.
Museveni also appeared to suggest that the loss in Buganda, which also saw close to a dozen Cabinet ministers from Buganda; including Vice President Edward Ssekandi, lose their parliamentary seats, could be attributed to the NRM members who do not want to solve people’s problems.
“The original problem is with the NRM people. Why don’t you solve those people’s problems which now are exploited by the opportunists? Of course the opportunists are also to blame because they appear not to learn from history,” he said.
Speaking about the recent voting patterns on the On the Spot, a weekly current affairs segment on NTV Uganda on Jan.21, Evelyn Anite, an NRM member and minister of state for investment and privatization, echoed her boss’s and many of the senior NRM party members’ sectarian narrative. Anite described the Buganda voters as “ungrateful considering what President Museveni has done for the Baganda.”
But Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, the FDC spokesperson who appeared on the same show, shot back and told Anite that he had taken comfort in the way Buganda voted. Ssemujju said although he does not want to be quick in passing judgment, Museveni has always prided in having a big following in Buganda and Busoga, a neighbouring sub-region to the east of the River Nile.
“The results are a big lesson,” he said.
Mathias Mpuuga, the NUP vice president for Buganda who was also a panelist on the same show with Anite said it was an insult to imagine that Buganda voted along sectarian lines. Mpuuga said it was not the first time that Buganda has moved first than the rest of Uganda.
“Buganda moved first in the fight for Uganda’s independence,” Mpuuga said, “Buganda moved first to support Museveni to depose Obote. Should we apologize for that?”
Frederick Golooba Mutebi, a political analyst and researcher, told The Independent on Jan.20 that he understands what President Museveni is referring to. His reference to sectarianism is because of the way he and his MPs lost in Buganda.
“President Museveni is just angry because the people in Buganda voted for Bobi Wine.”
Golooba explains that it is not entirely true that the Baganda are even the majority in Buganda. Many other ethnic people have settled in Buganda over the years and if the Baganda are that many, they could be about 60% of the whole population in the region. “The people who voted for Kyagulanyi are not only Baganda,” Golooba-Mutebi told The Independent.
“But if the sectarian talk is true, then the same should apply to the people in Kiruhura District and the Cattle Corridor who voted overwhelmingly for President Museveni.”
Golooba-Mutebi says the people in these regions have always voted for Museveni in all the elections he has won in the past. “Does that imply that they are sectarian? It is nonsense.” He says Museveni had grown accustomed to Buganda voting for him and he thought they were a “captive electorate.” Golooba-Mutebi says there are many factors that led the Baganda to vote the way they voted.
“Look at how many young people in Buganda were killed. Look at how many young people in Buganda are in prisons on tramped-up charges. Did he think the Baganda are so idiotic that they would still vote for him?”
“You don’t go around shooting people and you even boast about it. If he thinks the people of Buganda are sectarian, then the people in the Cattle Corridor and Kiruhura are sectarian too. Why are the Baganda sectarian this time when they have always voted for him?”
Gerald Siranda, the Secretary General of the Democratic Party, told The Independent Museveni is being disingenuous with his sectarian talk.
“It is in Buganda where he brought the (liberation) war, not western Uganda after riding on Buganda sentiment of being cheated in an election (1980 general election). And over the years, Museveni has endeared himself to the Baganda by whipping up the history of Luweero.”
Siranda explains that when it comes to politics in Africa, there is no way you can separate people from their ethnic, religious and social affiliations. But even then, Siranda says, if this election was about tribal sentiment, then Nancy Kalembe would have wiped the Busoga region (where she comes from).
Siranda says while FDC’s Patrick Amuriat won some parts in Teso region where he comes from, he did not win it overwhelmingly.
“The same happened to Mao in northern Uganda and I doubt Mugisha won a single polling station in his home district.
Performance of President Museveni and Kyagulanyi in the regions they hail from:
|Yoweri Museveni||1,001,020 (35.91%)||2,247,637 (80.60%)|
|Robert Kyagulanyi||1,728,662 (62.01%)||391,129 (14.03%)|
Source: Electoral Commission