How Museveni got 60% of the votes and Besigye won the election
The subject of who won the February 18 election seems to be settled among supporters of Dr. Kizza Besigye. They believe their candidate won.
I have also met supporters of President Yoweri Museveni who suspect Besigye’s claims to hold some water. When your opponent sows seeds of doubt among your supporters, then you know he is either right or has won the war of public perception.
There is a lot of evidence of electoral malpractice: the delay to deliver ballot papers in many parts of Kampala where Besigye had strong support, the way the EC announced results, the deployment of police and army around Kampala, alleged ballot stuffing, 100% voter turnout at some polling stations in Museveni’s home district, etc. Nowhere are claims of electoral theft more convincing than when they make use of (and abuse) obvious facts. However, proof of electoral malpractices alone does not mean the beneficiary would have lost without them.
Electoral fraud tends to favour the strong. It only increases their margins rather than creating their victory. That is why in spite of malpractices, Museveni lost in Gulu, Amuru, Lira, Kampala, Wakiso, Kasese, Tororo, Rukungiri, etc. However, electoral malpractices undermine public faith in the electoral process.
In a charged and distrustful political climate, they provide considerable grist to the opposition mill. Even without any malpractices on polling day, Besigye and his supporters would NEVER have accepted a Museveni victory.
The malpractices only added ammunition to justify their bias. To them Besigye won long before polling day, balloting was not about selecting a winner but recognising his victory. If balloting did not confirm Besigye’s victory, then it would have proved Museveni’s theft. And how did Besigye and his supporters arrive at the conclusion that they had won before polling? By “reading the national mood.”
This despite all opinion polls (including one by Besigye’s openly declared supporter and ally, Patrick Wakida of ResearchWorld International) showing Museveni winning in the first round by anything between 51% and 70% and Besigye trailing at 28% to 32%.
Besigye’s supporters claimed that there was a “fear factor.” But how could Besigye’s supporters have the courage to brave police harassment and walk long distances to attend his rallies, openly hand him money, goats and chicken at these rallies and even throw stones at the police but fear to tell pollsters what they were doing in public? The lesson is that people create their own reality. This is a result of the power of one’s communication.
Even before the election, Besigye’s much touted strength was questionable. His party fielded parliamentary candidates in only 201 of the 290 geographical constituencies, in only 61 out of 112 positions of womenMP, 43 out of 112 district chairpersons, 536 out of 1,403 sub county chairperson positions, 1,123 candidates against NRM’s 6,663 in sub county women councilors, 2,049 candidates against NRM’s 7,303 in sub county councilor positions – the list goes on and on.