Bobi Wine gains as Besigye, Mao, Akena kill their parties
Kampala, Uganda | JULIUS BUSINGE | The 2021 general elections have come at the best time for the leaders of Uganda’s three main political parties; the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), the Democratic Party (DP), and the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC). But they have equally come at the worst time for the parties.
Almost all political parties have suffered major defections of prominent members, including members of parliament. The result, according to commentators, could be that the next parliament might have fewer opposition members than the current 57 or 12% in the 452 member House.
The People Power group, which appears to carry the opposition momentum at the moment, is not a recognised political organisation but could end up adding to the bulge of Independent MPs in parliament currently at 66 in the 10th parliament.
Even as the opposition house burns, the party leaders appear happy to use the fire to cook their celebratory party food. The FDC’s Patrick Oboi Amuriat, the DP’s Norbert Mao, and the UPC’s Akena appear determined to remain leaders of shell opposition parties.
For the first time since the re-introduction of multiparty elections in Uganda in 2005, these leaders are going into the general election without the bruises from primary elections within their parties.
The out-break of the coronavirus disease COVID-19 and the lockdown measures imposed by the government ; including a ban on political party campaign rallies and activities like holding delegates conferences means the leaders of parties are going into the elections unchallenged.
Before the COVID-19 lockdown, DP and UPC leaders were facing challengers within their parties. Akena had used the force of the state to stave off his opponents at Uganda House.
Norbert Mao was under siege from the Buganda block within his party and he was fumbling for a formula to hold a delegates conference without them kicking him out.
The DP, which has 15 MPs, could end up without an MP in parliament as most of its main hopefuls flee to the People Power group led by new kid on the opposition block, Kyadondo East MP Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine.
The FDC which, with 36, has the most opposition MPs in the House could suffer the biggest rout and even lose its clout as the elector of the Leader of Opposition (LOP).
The UPC with 6 MPs is at its weakest since its main players, Lira Municipality MP and party president Jimmy Akena and his wife, Betty Amongi jumped into bed with President Yoweri Museveni. Amongi is a minister in Museveni’s government while Akena is an apologist for the government.
It’s not clear how the voters will react to Akena and Amongi’s switch in the bread-and butter politics that now dominates northern Uganda but UPC candidates could still survive as the party has solid ethnic support among the Langi and some Acholi.