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The myth of Museveni’s rigging

Here is why if there was pre-ticking of ballots, it had little influence on the final results

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | There is a myth in Uganda’s opposition that President Yoweri Museveni steals their votes. Opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye has been the principle promoter of this myth, claiming that he won all the electoral contests against Museveni in 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016. This has stifled the opposition in Uganda, locking them in victimhood where they indulge in self-pity and refuse to recognise their own internal weaknesses and design a strategy to overcome them.

Like all myths, there is always some convincing evidence. For instance, opposition activists point out the many polling stations with 100% voter turnout and where Museveni gets over 95%. Such turnout is evidence of electoral malpractice. But does such rigging explain Museveni’s victory? For instance, in 2016 there were 133 polling stations with 100% voter turnout. Total votes in them were 43,000. Museveni had 5.97 million votes against Besigye’s 3.5 million. Thus, even if results from all those 133 polling stations were cancelled, it would not affect Museveni’s margin of victory.

If you cannot count what matters, you make what you count matter. That has been the tragedy of Uganda’s opposition. They suffer from the “streetlight” effect, where the drunken man searches for his missing keys not where he dropped them but where the light is. Human beings have the habit of looking for things in places where it is easiest to search for them rather than in places where the truths is more likely to be found. So the opposition in Uganda do not do the hard work of going through the electoral results of each district or sub county to see voting patterns.

There was a time Museveni used to lose badly in the north. In 2006, he got a miserable 12% in Gulu against Besigye’s 82%. In this election, Museveni swept West Nile and the entire political north like he has never done before. Even if we accepted, just for argument’s sake, that Museveni steals votes, the question for the opposition is: what made it possible for him to lose miserably in 2001 and 2006 but win it in 2021? What anti rigging firewall did the opposition have in the north that they have suddenly lost now?

This election exposed the myth of Museveni’s rigging in Buganda. He was beaten in this region, which was previously his stronghold, by a new comer half his age with a political party only three months old, not enough time to build an anti-rigging firewall. What happened to Museveni’s rigging machinery in Buganda?

Indeed, if you comb through the electoral results over time, you realise that Museveni’s much touted rigging machinery is only present in the cattle corridor, where his ethnic kin; the Bahima, reside. In 2016, 79% of all polling stations reporting 100% voter turnout were in Nyabushozi (37%), Nakaseke North (15%), Kazo (10%), Rwampara (9%) and Mawogola North (8%). These are places where voter turnout and Museveni’s margins would have been very high.


  1. The platform is good at updating us

  2. Mr President please stop the kidnaps, torture and murder

    Observer 27/1/2021

  3. “The key to Museveni’s victories is in voter turnout. Vast numbers of Ugandans opt out of voting due to the radical extremist stance of opposition politicians.”
    This statement is very true about NRM/M7 government intimidation.

  4. Andrew notes & has repeated this claim many times and you will hear or read it from him so several times in his doggy analysis: “ The key to Museveni’s victories is in voter turnout. Vast numbers of Ugandans opt out of voting due to the radical extremist stance of opposition politicians. In trying to please its extremist base, the opposition has alienated the moderates, and thereby sustaining enthusiasm but not growing their numbers” HE HAS ALWAYS CLAIMED THAT PEOPLE LIKE MUGISHA MUNTU WOULD ATTRACT THE MODERATES. Moderates such as Muntu & Nobert Mao contested; what happened? Certainly their performance makes Andrew’s claim null and void. It is clear that what you argue for doesn’t work at all. There is so much rigging in presidential elections in favour of Museveni so much that the results we finally get are totally different from the votes. But with time, that will also be dealt with

    • It might be possible that rigging on.polling day is minimum but before that, it is so extreme to the extent that it will obviously affect the final result.
      NRM served 20000 ugx door to door in rural areas, they brought emyooga a few weeks to elections , many candidates were blocked from accessing radio stations during campaigns and yet were arrested for open air campaigns.I think E.C chairman should be penalized for failure to handle electoral process to a fair standard because he ought to have ensured that all candidates are allowed to freely access the mediums of communication agreed upon through directives of E.C.
      vote rigging encompasses all activities that can influence the voter decision against his own will and money is one such .
      So the election was rigged.

    • Dick, use your common sense! Moderates are reasonable and realistic people who will not just throw away their vote. Why vote for the Muntus, Maos… who cannot even raise MP candidates willing to stand on their respective party tickets? If they split or wasted their votes on the Muntus, it means they would be enabling radicals to take power. For argument’s sake, if indeed the opposition claim they always win the presidency, why don’t the same very voters give them majority MPs in parliament? Did you ever take time off to ask yourself why Latif would decline Kampala Lord Mayor NUP ticket? He is a moderate and reasonable opposition MP.

      • @ musaja. Thanks for the response. My worry is that it is an elitist one. You note, “ If they (moderates) split or wasted their votes on the Muntus, it means they would be enabling radicals to take power.” You ignore the fact that very few people in Uganda make such a decision, implying that their decision is insignificant to the election outcome. The logic of moderates thinking that if they voted, the radicals would win doesn’t make sense in a country where less than 15% of the adult population have bank accounts; and in a country that has all the characteristics of a peasantry and poor country like Uganda. I have also looked at all the presidential elections results between Museveni and Besigye and didn’t find any correlation between their performance and their party MPs performance. I also wonder why Mwenda argues that radicals should be moderates, that so doing would attract ‘fence seaters or moderates’ yet evidence shows that being a moderate as you have also shown hardly attracts votes. Is that a good advise?

        • @dick, I feel and believe that you are a reasonable person.
          The problem with most of us who use these forums, we convince ourselves that our views and opinions are the facts. And anybody with contrary ideas or alternative information is an agent of our adversaries. Majority of those posting here, do not provide any evidence to back up their arguments. We shout rigging rigging…. without proof.
          President and District Woman MP elections are held on the same day, I will randomly sample some results of 2016 General Elections so that we may detect the “rigging” /ballot stuffing.
          1. APAC: Presidents – 100,193 /Woman MPs – 102,575
          2. BUSHENYI: Presidents – 89,973 /Woman MPs – 90,828
          3. JINJA: Presidents – 131,065 /Woman MPs – 130,752
          4. KAMPALA: Presidents – 508,027 /Woman MPs – 494,620
          5. GULU: Presidents – 95,894 /Woman MPs – 98,290
          6. SIRONKO: Presidents – 82,805 /Woman MPs – 83,013
          7. MUKONO: Presidents – 175,167 /Woman MPs – 174,644
          8. RUKUNGIRI: Presidents – 116,838 /Woman MPs 119,373
          9. NTUNGAMO: Presidents – 164,919 /Woman Reps – 162,400
          10. LYANTONDE: Presidents – 31,284 /Woman Reps – 31,268
          11. SERERE: Presidents – 79,091 /Woman Reps – 81,853
          12. BUSIA: Presidents – 93,456 /Woman Reps – 94,671
          13. ZOMBO: Presidents – 61,836 /Woman Reps – 63,451
          14. RAKAI: Presidents – 146,132 /Woman Reps – 148,822

          This data is from freely available public records for cross checking.
          Elections were held at same polling stations, same day simultaneously.
          Figures are totals combined for all those who stood as Presidential and District Woman MP candidates.
          If there was any ballot stuffing, then it’s the Women MPs who are guilty!!

          • Musaja, you posted, “if indeed the opposition claim they always win the presidency, why don’t the same very voters give them majority MPs in parliament?”To assist you understand that the above reasoning is not valid, I countered with a fact that stats from presidential elections results between Museveni and Besigye don’t show any correlation between their performance and their party MPs performance. Instead of you showing me how they do; you posted stats that are irrelevant to the point. I assume you used them to support the claim of no rigging. The reality is that people who are assigned the responsibilities of tampering with presidential election results are quite smart to ensure that rigging is within agreeable limits even though it significantly affects the presidential election outcome. Use your common sense.

          • @dick, indeed I agree with you there is no correlation between Museveni /Besigye (2016 RESULTS) votes and the number of MPs for either party! Common sense is not so common, so let us try logic!

            KAMPALA 8 MPs: FDC – 3, NRM – 0, DP – 1, INDEPENDENT – 4

            GULU 4 MPs: FDC – 0, NRM – 1, DP – 2, INDEPENDENT – 1

            ARUA 7 MPs: FDC – 0, NRM – 6, DP – 0, INDEPENDENT – 1

            My conclusion, is that whereas voters cast their votes for Besiigye, they voted for him as an individual but snubbed his FDC. Meaning they viewed him as the de facto joint opposition Presidential candidate with a realistic chance against Museveni. However, for area MPs they stuck to their mother parties. You will observe where he did well, they returned DP or DP leaning independents. Furthermore, Besigye support was within densely populated areas with limited number of MP positions. Kampala 1,014,294 voters /8MPs versus Arua 336,384 voters / 7 MPs

  5. I recall an election , the night before voting, Mr.Ssebalu (NRM) was on a live discussion on TV, he once more mentioned the skulls; Mr Mwenda start going out to the population and get the many reasons why people vote the way they do

    Those who tested trouble do not want a repeat, so when told “any alternate choice, you will regret”, they have no choice, but to vote [not always easy to sing with a smile as one passes a mother’s grave]

    Even after an election, a respectable leader of government business comes out to say people will regret! is this the way governments work?

    Just like your area has become so used to tremors, gradually some voters have looked at the level of deprivation of services that they once enjoyed plus impunity that surrounds them. They also have a group who did not have to make difficult choices in the past; this explains the un expected results among those “who had been controlled under the thumb!”

    Those who watched the level of vigilance by the voters in Kyadondo East around 2017 can tell you, that certain methods fail; that does not mean that there were no efforts to achieve a certain outcome

    Your claims can only be true if you analyze the results and complement the figures with the voices of the voters (be it in the past or present)

    Looking forward to your opinion after

  6. Until recently I thought that it is only animals that throw up and follow the vomit; alias, even human beings do! Lo and Behold!

    Just look at Mwenda’s screaming title for this article “The myth of Museven’s rigging”, sharply contradicting with “How votes were stolen during 2001 elections”, Andrew Mwenda and Daniel Kalinaki, Daily Monitor, 12 February 2006.
    In the latter’s headline, the authors state:

    “An investigation by Daily Monitor gave detailed insights into some of the rigging that took place in 2001, including arguing that as many as 1,3000,000 ‘ghost votes’ had been cast in favor of the incumbent”

    Furthermore, to debunk M9’s hypocrisy, in the same 2001, presidential election talked about in their five-five-menmber judge unanimous ruling it was observed:

    “In some areas of the country, the principle of free and fair elections was compromised; in the special polling stations for soldiers, the principle of transparency was not applied, and there was evidence that in a significant number of polling statons there was cheating”

    Now, under normal circumstances Uganda’s presidential elections of 2001 and 2006, would have been annulled for the simple reason that both elections were conducted outside the law, but given the fact that Uganda doesn’t operate under ordinary circumstances the learned judges folded their tails between their legs and let the hook off M7!

    Because as you may have noted the Supreme Court justices on both occasions didn’t only inquire into the events that happened on the polling day per se, but rather they were so much alive to the pre, the polling day and after!

    And their findings revealed a lot of election malpractices and irregularities that undermined the integrity of the whole process!

    And this is the exact reasoning which informed the decision of the learned judges to annul the 2018 and 2020 presidential election results against Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Peter Mutherika of Malawi, respectively!
    It’s just simple like that!

    For instance when you visit a health facility a doctor looking for the presence of malaria parasites will simply draw a few milliters of blood and concentrate on that to arrive at the conclusion of whether you will be put on antibiotics for malaria or not!

    But unfortunately for Mwenda and the Supreme Court justices of Uganda the petitioner is required to prove each and every polling staton wrongs to the tune of counting 4 – 6 = ?!!!!!! Very ridiculous!

    Space doesn’t allow me to further show how Mwenda is swallowing his own vomit, but I still have a lot of documentary stuff for him!

    Mr Andrew Mujuni Mwenda, do you now realize how your brain has reached the point of diminishing marginal returns!!

  7. Andrew should give Ugandans a break. If he still has some conscience remaining in his soul, he must be eating his dirty pie from Gen Tibuhaburwa with ambivalence.

    Instead of parroting the myth about Gen Tibuhaburwa rigging mania, Andrew should first of all demystify how his sister, Muhanga raised Shs.10 billion from selling a few goats and fraudulently bought premium UBC plot of land in Bugolobi. In other words AM is coming from a family of contemptible liars.

    E.g., he one time bragged that by 12 he had already read the entire Plato’s Greatest Dialogue. If indeed Andrew read Plato’s Greatest Dialogue, in the Republic Book VIII (pgs.432-439); aging AM would have by now known Gen. Tibuhaburwa’s vicious, degenerate and tyrannical constitution.

  8. For somebody to win, somebody must lose and somebody to lose, somebody must win!!!!!

    • But Charity, only in the animal world/kingdom and the pre-historic sub-human communities is where “winning” and “losing” is dictated by the law of the jungle “survival for the fittest”. But in the 21st Century human winning and losing is guided by reason, social contract and/or the Principle of Trade. It is the principle that governs the agreeable and disagreeable sellers and buyers.

      But what we saw for the 60 days of Campaign, up to the voting day on 14th January 2021, belongs to our wilderness of: Kidepo, Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls and Lake Mburo National Parks; where the winning and losing is a matter of life and death, between predators and prays; between and among bulls and bitches.

      Therefore please, be human who is concerned for other and as much as possible prevent harm. It is your type casual look at life and all tragedies in this that perpetuate human suffering.

  9. Looking at it from a tree and watching the “fight between Mr. Frog and Mr Snake”

    The MP elect for women in Wakiso district says her total count was far more than what was declared and Hon

    Nambooze of Nukomo municipality made a similar comment (in whose interest is that activity). A seniour NRM die hard said that they

    have a machinery/mechanism to get the required votes. I also recall when still in Wakiso RDC Bamwine

    said,” we print, sore, distribute , count and declare the winner” Did you follow the process of the election for

    mayor in Entebbe (in whose interest is that activity). Do you think these events are accidental? Do you think

    they only operate for MPs and Mayors?

    All areas where Wanainchi are not vigilant, where transport is problematic, where the uniformed men can be

    fronted do not register the true outcome of the voters choice. One MP had his agent sign a blank declaration

    form!. evidence of uniformed individuals ballot ticking in Bukomansimbi and several others. Now the residents

    of Kikuube have just assisted some of us with partial vision to internalize the rot in the system

    we expected 11 million focused voters, however, money is involved at all levels-again a reflection of a flawed


    When you have time to plan a felony you also ensure that the evidence is scanty

    I only wish the group could stop pegging the provision of essential services to the pattern of voting; indeed

    the change in performance in certain regions (if genuine) reflected a wish to get what should otherwise be a

    right of citizens; yes by the year 1978 Ugandans accessed basic essential services (however scanty the road

    network and small the number of service units)

    Let us not be hoodwinked by those who think that they have the prerogative of knowledge and memory and

    can direct perception of mere mortals in this forsaken enclave

  10. 1.We are in an era of ICT even simple Computer packages like excel would simplify tallying of votes.
    2. EC could not use simple computer icons like repeat rows and titles so that Justice Byabakama reads the scores of candidates without referring to the first page.
    3.I thought each polling station was in the EC system what was so difficult with sending the results per polling station?
    4. The votes counted at polling stations are more authentic than the ones tallied at District headquaters.
    5. Polling assistants should be given more rights to directly post total votes cast per village in the EC database. .
    6. By 5.00pm most votes had been counted at village level and the likes of Rajab were even celebrating M7’s win with their wives why wait for District results?
    7. Surely how would Bobi Wine address World leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos?
    8.It someone wants to overthrow government befriend the head of Land and Air forces.
    9.UPDF has cruise missles.

  11. I have survived over some decades without bothering about leaders in this country, i however know all about their achievements

    If this statement is true
    4,The votes counted at polling stations are more authentic than the ones tallied at District headquaters.; then Entebbe should have been spared of the scene of murder in the recent past

    The last time i knew , we had a fundamental change, it cost us entire generations, livelyhoods. society disruption and inability to recover. Some one claims that such areas are “under the thumb of an individual” [like fleas or bed bugs may be]

    Please do not make the dead turn in their graves/display panels. in the year 2021 such statements (below) should be reserved for the high class cocktail parties
    8.It someone wants to overthrow government befriend the head of Land and Air forces
    9.UPDF has cruise missles.

    Ugandans wish to live free of side effects of weapons be it missiles or noxious gases

  12. The elections are now in the past. There was always going to be a winner and a loser. Democracy dictates that the will of the majority takes the day. The economy has been partially shut down due to COVID, children are at home instead of going to school and more. We need to learn from this exercise, address the issues of today and move on.

    • Hm our athletes always win, we celebrate this event that makes us proud of this country
      Please do not talk of majority here, in our sphere we say all conditions remaining constant and you know this was not the case But the events of this election cannot be forgotten not even for a single day
      Being the majority start thinking of those who are disadvantaged. The greatest deception in life is to ignore a problem. On a lighter side we are enjoying the drifting on theories about the performance; some people call this tendency a flight of ideas

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