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Besigye as Museveni’s ally

How Uganda’s opposition leader helps the incumbent keep winning elections

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Opposition leader and activist, Dr. Kizza Besigye, has been consistent in denouncing the electoral process in Uganda as a sham. In a recent interview with Daily Monitor, he said: “[Lt] Gen [Henry] Tumukunde knows that in Uganda, the election cannot cause change and bring about the announcement of a different person as president. If he wants to join the struggle for change, he should know that it will take more than canvassing for votes.”

If Besigye believes elections cannot cause change, why does he participate in them at all? In an interview with The Observer newspaper last year, Besigye again revealed his strategy.

He said electoral campaigns offer him an opportunity to mobilize citizens. Since elections cannot cause change, he said he uses the electoral process as an opportunity to mobilize the masses for a popular uprising. Essentially Besigye is saying he wants to use ultra constitutional means to gain political power, which is treason.

But how come President Yoweri Museveni, someone sensitive about plots and threats to his power, has not permanently jailed Besigye, but only restricted his activities?

On the surface, this tolerance reflects the strength of the NRM and the weakness of Besigye’s defiance campaign. So government can treat him as a tolerable nuisance. I do not know of any other country, not even in the advanced liberal democracies, where a leading political figure can openly state such treasonous intentions and get away with it.

However, the biggest reason for Besigye’s freedom is his role in entrenching President Yoweri Museveni’s power, which I think he does inadvertently. Over the last two decades, Museveni’s support across the country has been shrinking. Over 65% of the population think the president is tired and should retire. He has a great past behind him but he offers little or no better future for Uganda.

Therefore the only way Museveni can win an election in Uganda is by ensuring low voter turnout. How can he achieve this? It is by making a significant percentage of Ugandans believe that elections cannot remove him from power.

How does he do this? First the president employs violence against the most powerful challenger who is often Besigye. By constantly arresting him and bundling him on police pickups like a chicken thief, he demonstrates that the electoral process is under his personal control. Seeing such, many people opt not to vote, believing their vote won’t count.

Museveni also knows that for many peasants, voting is not a choice of who should become president. Rather it is a means of expressing themselves on whom they think wields real power. So voting is a means to endorse power, not to change it.

Consequently, when many peasants see Besigye being bundled on a pickup truck by ordinary policemen and women they recognize that he is actually powerless; it is Museveni who wields power. So they endorse the president when they go to the polls.


  1. Great analysis

    • But Ritah Asiimwe, what is great about Mwenda glorifying Mr. Museveni’s dictatorship, abuse power, office, resources, naked injustice and violence meted on Dr. Besigye, Hon Kyagulanyi and enters Gen Tumukunde?

      Andrew Mwenda is a political spectator. In time of injustice a spectator has joined the side of the unjust. In other words, AW has joined the side of injustice, and above all he has become Mr. Museveni’s diabolic cheerleader.

      • ejakait engoraton

        M9 has always been on the side of the dictator and is more than a spectator or even just a mouthpiece.

        BESIGYE is only saying the truth, and something that anybody with any brains knows and has known for a long time now.

        ‘For veteran opposition leader like players like Dr. Besigye, Tumukunde should know that the struggle to remove Museveni has to go beyond the voting process because the latter cannot remove Museveni. At the NRM politburo, officials there say Tumukunde is their sympathizer and he is not a threat to Museveni’s 2021 presidential ambitions.’

        These are the words of Prof NDEBESA, someone I consider to be more intelligent and analytical than our M9, and this appearing in the same publication.

        M7 is a brutal dictator who has used all the means at his disposal, not only to come to power, but to remain in power , and also to hold the country at ransom as well as brutalising anybody who attempts or even dreams of removing him from power, even if it is legal means.

        M7 is immensely endowed with inferiority complex and wants nothing better than to sow doubt among the supporters of his opponents. One way he has done this for instance is to allow KB to operate his businesses , sometimes doing business with the same government that is fighting him; and then deny the likes of BW to go about their businesses. LIKEWISE rightly or otherwise, Mugisha Muntu is allowed to ‘walk to work’ and KB and the likes of MAO are beaten, water and pepper sprayed.

        ON the other hand , part of M9s reasoning is stupid and at best very flawed. I have told M9, literally begged him to steer clear of STATISTICS because he just does not understand the subject, and probably even given 100 years , he will never understand it.

        He reasons thus

        ‘The evidence that low voter turnout works in Museveni’s favour is overwhelming. In 2011, only 58% of Ugandans turned out to vote and Museveni got 68% of the vote, Besigye 26%.

        In 2016, there was a 10% increase in voter turnout and Museveni’s share of the vote fell to 60% while that of Besigye climbed up by that 10% to 36%. It was very clear that most of the increase in voter turnout favoured Besigye. This is enough evidence that showing up to vote matters. Yet Besigye has remained impervious to this reality.’

        FOR someone to say that ‘evidence is overwhelming’ basing on just two figures, one must either be an absolute genius or an outright idiot.
        You can not determine whether 2 points are going to be a straight line or a curve.TO confidently say that an increase of 10% in voter turnout resulted in ( and was the main or only reason) a 10% increase for BESIGYE, is very absurd.

        FOR M9 to use just two figures to make a conclusion is to make an absolute mockery. And such a person goes around parading themselves as an intellectual, Tamale Mirundi style, so called LOGIKI.

        I will not even bother to go into explaining the dynamics of this absurdity because it will be wasted on our beloved M9 who I doubt has even the capacity to understand even if I did.

  2. Reagan Byaruhanga

    Thats not true. Mwenda is equally politicking.

    • Very right. When a dictatorship is at its peak…and most citizenship has turned hopeless..they start thinking, acting and worse, killing each other on its behalf. All this is present today.

  3. Andrew Mwenda will you talk the truth after that regime of dictatorship of MUSEVENI.and what will you talk about you and MUSEVENI.olyekweka.

  4. On many occasions Mr M9 has said he finds M7 as “more tolerable democrat than opposition groups who always cyber-harass him on social media!” But today here is M9 gain telling us “news” that he just discovered that M7’s a “democrat” who ascended to power using violence and has kept that power via violence! What an irony. Mr M9 knows no any other country in the world where a credible opposition politician makes treasonous statements against a sitting govt and gets away with it! Well, that country is only Uganda. It’s on record that during the 1980 general election campaign Mr M7 made it abundantly clear everywhere he went as a presidential candidate that he would go to the Bush with guns to fight any person declared winner of that election other than him! Wasn’t that treason Mr M9? But was M7 arrested? Isn’t it the reverse that M7 has made it crystal clear anyone who pauses a serious threat to oust him must be charged with “treason without reason”? Come on Mr M9, what happened to you after you reached the “road to Damascus”?

  5. Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi

    By then we were under Tanzanian occupation otherwise YKM would have been charged with treason in 1980.

  6. Mwendas obsession with DR. Besigye is cultish! He can not stand someone with the will, integrity and the shear grit of persevere that Besigye exibits. He is a weakling who succumbed to eating dictators money and paid to spread rumours about Besigye. First of all, the headline itself is missleading…intended to make it sound like KB and M7 are allies! Then the story is disconnected to the headline in a ranting kind of way. I know KB refused to give M9 audience hence his obsession with descrediting KB.

    On one hand he says…”Over the last two decades, Museveni’s support across the country has been shrinking.” but then he says Besigye has entrenched M7. How do you think M7s support has shrunk? Without Besigye, no one has sensitised Ugandans on their Civic rights and to open their Eyes about the fact that Ugandans deserve better.

    This whole article is useless. Mwenda trying to find relevance by using a headline that is not true! Never to come back here for any authentic analysis.

  7. But why waste time with mwenda. He is just a snake

  8. Andrew this piece is a no Brainerd!!

  9. If it wasn’t KB alerting Ugandans how things operate in a reverse psychology, M9 won’t be hear defending what he at heart knows isn’t right. Simply because he earns a living from M7 , can’t stop echoing. But time will tell.

  10. Mwenda mixes up falsehoods with the truth to draw wrong conclusions.
    Besigye is popular – Truth
    Museveni is a Dictator – Truth
    Voter apathy works for Museveni – Truth
    Museveni can be removed by an election – False
    Conclusion: Besigye is Museveni’s ally – False
    Because Museveni is not configured to leave power peacefully, it is wrong to assume that using an election prepared by himself to remove him is possible. Similarly, Besigye does not become Museveni’s ally for failing to remove him through an election. It is tantamount to blaming the victim.

    A third variable is important in this equation. The level of preparedness for change by the masses. The day they will be ready, change will happen regardless of the means.

    • Jeff Wadulo, thanks for your mathematical and logical explanation of AW ad hominem (fallacy) mischief.

      E.g., according to AW although Mr. Museveni rigs the election, arrests and brutalize Dr. Besigye and his supporters, it means Mr. M7 is politically stronger and therefore cannot be defeated.

  11. Yes they are allies; covert allies at that. The rest is make-believe.

  12. With due respect and to all the comments here, none, responds to Mwenda’s assertions. Mwenda is saying that “inadvertently” Besigye is helping Museveni’s stay in power by him contesting in every presidential election. Mwenda’s reason is that Besigye has failed to find “new” ways of beating the system since Besigye himself has found out that “voting” alone cannot deliver the presidency. And Mwenda up until that point he’s right. Where he falls short is that he doesn’t provide alternatives to the same. What other ways can Besigye apply to beat the system other than a military war fare?
    Mwenda and so many other pseudo analyst claim/have claimed that Besigye doesn’t grow his base. That Besigye doesn’t not appeal to the “fence sitters.” However, such reasoning does not apply to logic. In the past election, the wider opposition fronted John Patrick Amanda Mbabazi, he was seen as more amiable and progressive but still according to the electoral results he too never won over the fence sitters. Because, if the argument is that Besigye’s base is 3million voters and to win we need 6million votes. Then we don’t stop Besigye from standing but encourage another opposition player who can amass the same votes as those of Besigye in order to deny Museveni the 51%. But Mwenda’s logic suggests otherwise, that we completely shutout Besigye.

  13. 1.M7 is not an ordinary leader thats why when it comes to elections;Ugandans always think twice before they cast their vote and the possible consequence of Uganda being governed without him hence the low voter turn up.
    2.M7 is with no doubt winding up his good deeds so there is no need to rush him;i get the feeling that he is so confident that Uganda will not backslide especially with projects he has established.( Even areas like that north that were prone to war have really developed i was shocked to find Indian cuisine in Gulu and Arua
    3.When someone analyses the number of votes both M7 and KB have being obtaining in the various elections you realize that they are real at times they both gain and lose votes.
    4.During his address on the Corona virus;M7 said we were all together in this medical dilemma i was personally so impressed with the way Ugandans looked up to him for comfort.( They realized that M7 was God Sent)
    5.I think the breed of todays’s scientists are a lazy lot;we all know that bats and monkeys are mammals that transmit dangerous viruses like HIV and Ebola to mankind what is difficult with carrying out more research about their genes and why they carry deadly viruses? I hear a bat ate a moneky and man ate the Monkey resulting into Corona

    • But Winny, speak for yourself. Nobody would look up to someone who in 2017 on 26th January; told whoever cares that he is nobody’s servant or employee, but fighting only for himself, family and belief.

      How can such a person be God sent? Jesus who was sent by God said e.g. that “the Son of man came not be served but to serve (Matt 20:28)”. Because of the number deaths, poverty, unemployment and suffering in this country, Mr. Museveni cannot be God sent but Satan sent (made a pack with the Devil) and Winnie is a partner in that evil.

  14. I think the flak against M9 is misdirected because for his business to survive, praise singing and polemics come handy and for all our politivca actors it is the half truths that thread our history that have messed the whole narrative. We freely quote events without detail and discernment. The rigged elections in 1980 did not make the second runner up to declare war it was m7 who had trained earlier in 1972 who declared the dear leader won’t organise an election whose outcome he can’t control. And here we debate the veracity of polemics. It is self defeating.

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