By Julius Odeke
Ruranga confronts pollster as Sabiiti says poll is `rubbish’
I was walking out of Research World International director, Patrick Wakida’s 2nd floor office in Kiwatule, a Kampala city suburb, when I bumped into Maj. Rubaramira Ruranga as he squeezed in. Not good news, I thought, because it was the last month of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change presidential election slated for Nov.22, and Wakida and Ruranga are in ferociously opposing camps.
Wakida, who speaks with the passion of someone who will succeed at anything he fancies, is unapologetically in Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu’s camp, while Ruranga, who is Nandala Mafabi’s corner, has been credited for single-handedly turning an otherwise civil intra-party contest into a vitriolic slugfest.
The race for the FDC presidency also features Geoffrey Ekanya, the party’s Shadow Minister of Finance, but it is really a two horse race between Muntu and Nandala.
The jostling between them has got uglier since Wakida started releasing opinion polls showing Muntu consistently in the lead.
In the latest poll, done between Sept.25 and Oct.3 and not officially released to the public, Muntu has the support of 49% of the 724 voting delegates, compared to Nandala’s 25%, and Ekanya’s 3%. The remaining 23% are the undecided who both candidates are struggling to impress.
This was the third poll in as many months giving Muntu a double-digit lead over Nandala.
In the latest poll, when asked to name three things why their candidate is best to lead FDC, most delegates who support Gen. Muntu; 58 of 491 said it was because of his military background. Muntu is a former Army Commander of UPDF.
They were followed by 22 who support him because they say he promotes principles and unity in the party, 18 who said they had pledged to vote for him, and 17 who said they support him because he is humble.
On the other hand, the largest number of responses in favour of Nandala, 33 out of 246, said they support him because of regional balance. There has been a strong argument that since the out-going president, Kizza Besigye is from western Uganda, the next leader should be from another region. Nandala is also supported because he is hardworking, 17 responses, and not corrupted, 7 responses.
Another key question, the RWI poll survey asked was how frequently the candidates were in contact with the delegates.
The results show that in the last one month before the poll, Muntu had contacted 77% of the delegates, Ekanya 69%, and Nandala 57%. This could be a partial explanation of the candidates’ popularity. Although Ekanya is the rank outsider in the race, for example, he has had the highest improvement in delegates’ responses. He rose from 0% in northern Uganda in September to 5%.
Muntu appears to be retaining much of his gains among important demographic groups that was carried last September and now in this October, both in male and female. Nandala meanwhile had dropped.
The poll suggests that Nandala can change this trend if he concentrates his campaigns in the remaining few weeks on improving communicating to the delegates.
Quite expectedly, however, Wakida’s polls have been criticised by Nandala’s camp.
Jack Sabiiti, who is a mobiliser for Nandala and a party elder, said the RWI polls are “rubbish, a waste of time, and an attempt to deny the public rightful information that is on the ground”.
“I have been to all the regions in Uganda campaigning and as well carrying our own research we are leading with 60% while our colleague Muntu is about 30%,” he said.
He says Nandala Mafabi is leading in Bunyoro, Kigezi, Ankole, Teso, Bukedi, Karamoja, and in Bugisu while admitting that Muntu leads in Central region but not with a very big margin.
Sabiiti also adds that, “In West Nile, Acholi and some parts in Lango regions, Muntu is slightly ahead of us but we are still combing those areas where we are weak so nobody can say that we shall lose in this race in other wards we are winning with 68% while Muntu will follows us with 28% . He did not mention the position that Ekanya lies in the race saying, “He is somewhere there.”
Wakida concedes his allegiance to Muntu puts extra pressure on him to act independently, but he insists, his “firm is competent enough to do any assignment that it does without any bias.”
Wakida says RWI “is a serious research firm in Uganda’s market that does credible research.” He cites the research RWI did on fourth term for President Yoweri Museveni saying that, “The results were perfect.”
He told The Independent that the recent poll survey was specifically carried in order to guide, “Mugisha Muntu in his campaigns rallies, so that he can strategise on how to win the hearts of the delegates.” With that attitude, it is not difficult to imagine how the conversation between Wakida and Ruranga went. The Independent has learnt that Ruranga wanted to have a copy of the poll and Wakida refuse to give it to him.
RWI is competent, credible, not biased
Research World International director, Patrick Wakida, spoke to The Independent’s Julius Odeke about the challenges of doing political polls in Uganda.
You have conducted two poll surveys on the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party presidential campaigns that many people have appreciated. Will you be doing that through to the 2016 presidential elections?
We have demonstrated this before, so what you are seeing now is not the first polls RWI has ever conducted in this country. We had our first survey that had a deep look into the Forth Term bid of the
National Resistance Movement (NRM) which we did in April and it was published in May. It was quite impressive as we sampled 1300 Ugandans of voting age in an exercise that was proportional across the five main regions of South Western, North, East, Central and West. The capacity at RWI is that, we do surveys up to 10,000 to 15,000 samples. So, all our reports demonstrate that we are able to do any research in the country.
You firm have been accused of bias by the Nandala Mafabi camp since you are Mugisha Muntu’s friend. What do you say to the allegation?
Both Nandala Mafabi and Muntu are equally good people to me. I want to be very clear to the public. I am a delegate myself from Kibuku district, but if I am to cast my vote I will cast it to Muntu on the grounds that I am a strong supporter of Muntu. But that does not mean to say I am biased in the surveys that we do here. We are very many people in this firm with different political leanings. I only cannot influence any results and I am also very sincere to myself and cannot concoct things trying to favour my candidate. We do not favour and we cannot exercise favouritism here because our work is based on scientific research meaning we publish our results the way they are because it is not for our own good but it is for the candidates and to their supporters. Our researches offer them a platform to improve on their campaigns. But if I may ask, why would a patient question the diagnosis the medical doctor has given them? What my organisation is simply trying to say is that these candidates should improve in order to win the delegates but not to influence any vote for the other candidate.
The two polls that your firm has so far carried have consistently shown that Mugisha Muntu is on the lead. Will your organisation not be discredited if on Nov.22 Nandala Mafabi or Ekanya wins?
The first survey that we carried was for the period of Sept.23-29 only while the second one was for Sept.25 – Oct.3. So, the opinion that we gathered is not for tomorrow. Even at the moment, those results are not applicable because there period has past. In that, whether Nandala Mafabi, Ekanya, or Muntu wins tomorrow nobody will have to come and discredit RWI because we, in our surveys, have a specific duration under which the results are meant to serve.
Where then do you derive your funding?
We are a business entity who gets so many contracts from various fields ranging from; political, social, market researches. So funding is not a question to us. I must diffuse some allegations that are being spread to the country that Muntu funded this research. We conducted this survey on our own because we wanted to guide him. It is those allegations that have forced us not to publish our findings since we have been receiving threats.
What are the challenges that face RWI?
Ugandans do not accept research outcomes, we receive criticisms, threats, and we receive massive calls from people who feel aggrieved by our work. Political leaders such as Nandala Mafabi should learn to consume research work and accept the outcome the findings. We keep our tools of work for three years, in that if Nandala Mafabi and his team and any other aggrieved persons come here we shall show them our reports and try to educate them on the methodology that we use in RWI. Ours is purely to help them improve in their campaigns but not to destroy them.