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Bobi Wine’s lies about elections

Bobi Wine votes

It is unforgivable for NUP leaders to continue deceiving people that elections can bring change in Uganda

COMMENT | ABBEY SEMUWEMBA | The Uganda presidential elections were held a year and a half ago, and the divisiveness, lies, and downright ignorance during Robert Sentamu Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine’s gamble has actually multiplied in intensity since then. The moral revisionism propounded by most supporters of Bobi Wine’s party; the National Unity Platform (NUP), the Nupians, is more than astonishing. In fact, there are no terms suitable to describe it.

Back in 2018-2020 it was not surprising that there was a massive amount of ignorance and misinformation about opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) stalwart Kizza Besigye and his party. After all, Nupians ensured that they sold their NUP by portraying FDC founders and leaders as moles working for President Yoweri Museveni.

I will not repeat Besigye’s comments on ‘Twebelelemu’ in 2018 lest I perpetuate the misrepresentation. For what it is worth, I still think his comments were misjudged despite subsequent clarifications and apologies. It is too bad that so little of his(Besigye’s) work is generally available in books and videos, although you can still get such important and interesting information from newspapers and the book, ‘ Kizza Besigye and Uganda’s Unfinished Revolution ’.

Bobi himself was part of the propaganda machine against Besigye. As a result, I lost a significant amount of respect for him over this — certainly not as a musician, but as a person. Besigye, in my opinion, handled this disdain like a true gentleman, never allowing himself to sink to Bobi’s childish level.

Most Ugandans, especially in the central, simply cannot be blamed for their ignorance given that the NUP leaders did not help them to understand the intricacies of a massively complex election, especially when they resorted to hyper-partisan propaganda (fake news, distortions, false promises, outright lies …) rather than explaining what elections mean for the opposition in Uganda, why Besigye and FDC have been participating in them, and what people should expect after elections.

However, 16 months after elections, it is absolutely unforgivable for NUP leaders to continue deceiving people that elections work and would bring change in Uganda.

In May, I watched a video where Bobi was telling people to concentrate on Omoro byelections and elections of women representatives instead of joining Besigye on streets. It is unfortunate that he does not want to tell people about the political realities of the situation we are in.

Now we face the alarming prospect of one of the biggest liars during the 2020-21 presidential elections presenting himself again as a presidential candidate in 2026, and he will still spread lies and confusion about elections. If Museveni plans for his son, Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to stand in the next elections, then this was well planned in advance, and I think its high time we all agree that he is a political genius.

Another election is always an incredibly risky prospect without reforms to the electoral laws to dissuade electoral lies and cheating, without new rules to clampdown on social media fake news, and to have an independent electoral commission. Bobi wants Ugandans to continue participating desperately in rigged games with a belief that change is coming when there is virtually no chance of that actually happening. All he cares about is his new position as leader of NUP where he has designed a salary for himself through monthly cuts from all his party MPs, and gets to travel around the world in conferences where he is invited.

While Besigye and FDC had spent the last ten years relentlessly working to make sure that Ugandans lose faith in elections, and start embracing the ‘defiance’ approach, Bobi has wasted their energy on pleading for more election gambles. This is one of the main reasons why a lot of people believe that Bobi Wine works for Museveni.

Whether Bobi’s lies and misinformation about the elections are motivated by ignorance, selfishness, mendacity, or a bit of all three, it is a terrifying indictment of our country that such a transparent deceiver stands so close to our politics.

It’s an indictment of the NUP party for causing this chaos in the first place, and then picking the spectacularly incompetent Moses Kibalama to somehow make the mess even worse, then binning himself and replacing himself with someone even worse. Now, Kibalama is desperately trying to get his party back but in vain.

But anyone capable of self-reflection should also be thinking what role did people like me play in the absolute mess we have got ourselves into? Did I do enough to help try and stop it? Have my actions actually exacerbated this mess?

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 Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba is a Uganda social-political commentator based in the UK

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