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Lesson from Hoima by-election

The new Hoima Woman MP welcomed at parliament by her NRM colleagues.

Why NRM should be worried and why the opposition needs to rethink their political strategy

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, the NRM narrowly won the elections for women MP in Hoima district. According to results, NRM’s Harriet Businge got 33,000 votes (54%) against FDC’s Asinansi Nyakato with 29,000 votes (46%). This is a major setback for NRM, which has historically won Hoima with huge margins. In 2006, the FDC candidate for Women MP in Hoima got only 15% of the votes the NRM candidate got, in 2011 only 10% and in 2016 25%. In this by election, the FDC candidate got 86% of the votes the NRM candidate got.

Yet before the opposition can celebrate, they should first look at voter turnout. Only 62,000  (43%) out of 144,000 registered voters showed up. One can say by-elections have low turnout. Yet the opposition deployed a large number of its best and most renowned politicians and activists in the district for weeks. Even the popular Kyadondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, was there. This should have bolstered voter enthusiasm but it didn’t. Why?

While NRM’s political fortunes are declining, the opposition is not inspiring much confidence. The growth in the opposition’s is far below the growth and spread of disaffection with NRM and President Yoweri Museveni. The radical extremism of the two most popular cults of the opposition – Defiance and its bastard child, People Power – has led to levels of intolerance of divergent views that most Ugandans have decided to keep away from electoral politics.

NRM continues to win elections in spite of declining support. The opposition claims this is because NRM steals their votes but fails to explain why they won Kyadondo East, Bugiri and Arua. NRM wins because of low voter turnout. In this by election the NRM candidate’s got only 23% of registered voters, 77% didn’t vote her.

Uganda’s opposition is deluded. They believe they occupy such a superior moral ground, that they are so awesome and cool, their position is so self-evidently righteous; so they do not need to win over people. They believe everyone should support them as of right because they are “liberators.” They believe, and I think correctly, that most Ugandans are frustrated with Museveni and his NRM. However, they mistake this to mean most Ugandans love them.

The fact that most people are frustrated with Museveni does not mean they would automatically support anyone who opposes him. The fact that a given woman is angry with her abusive husband does not necessarily mean she wants to quit her marriage. Even if she quit, it does not mean she is necessarily willing to marry the next suitor who comes telling her love stories.

Let us assume, just for argument’s sake, that NRM stole votes in Hoima. How does one explain 82,000 (57%) of registered voters keeping away? Is the opposition saying NRM blocked these people from the polling stations or are they ghost voters? The reason is simple: the opposition in Uganda is consumed by its own misguided sense of moral righteousness and its deluded sense of destiny that is has forgotten the interests of the people in whose name it claims to fight. This is because the opposition in Uganda is driven only by the desire for power and nothing more.


  1. ejakait engoraton

    “NRM continues to win elections in spite of declining support. The opposition claims this is because NRM steals their votes but fails to explain why they won Kyadondo East, Bugiri and Arua.”

    REALLY, is this the kind of reasoning from an intellectual or whatever one wants to call themselves.

    IT is like someone is brought to court and accused of “stealing cars”, and then answers “if I steal cars as you say , how come there are traffic jams in Kampala”.

    M9’s analysis on anything these days, is as the people from where WINNIE comes from would say, is worth “diddly squat.”

    I rest my case.

  2. 1. Earth moving equipments are roaring in all corners of Uganda in search of wealth why wouldn’t Ugandans vote for M7?
    2.The stakes in Hoima were so high and if at all M7 had lost the election it would have had a devastating effect on him .
    3. People power have to pull up their socks they are the type who would play with visitors shoes.
    4.Africa has lost alot of time carrying out experiments with democracy.
    5.Why don’t People power participate in discussions that lead to policy review?

  3. My view point as far as Hoima by -election are concerned, I suggest that everyone should ask themselves this question? Were these elections free and fair. The answer to is straight forward,.
    I was disappointed and dismayed how both sides have Militarised them but more especially, M7 government. It has never been interested in building a democratic society.
    No military man who holds a gun intimidates citizens at every turn will ever believe in democracy.
    Look at M7’s history . He has never believed in being under any leader other than himself. He has kept on recycling himself ever since he left Dar la’ salam University. KYIKOSI Malumu, FRONAS, NRA, NRM / NRMO . He has never contested power with anyone in his own party . Let alone others.
    On the part of opposition ,yes they don’t have the leathal force to counter M7’s Militias but they should not issuing empty threats and tunting Movement people,. Instead, teach your supporters other tools that are in the constitution. Let Ugandans know that M7 does not own the Military it’s for all Ugandans. Let the Military know that they too are being misused and abused by M7.
    His militia they don’t pay taxes for their up keep but Ugandans do. Call every tax payer to stop paying taxes once the Military comes out .some will say it’s against the law but that’s the start to have a debate about the role of the Military in elections.

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