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Uganda’s elite crisis

Why Dr. Kizza Besigye is right to say elites in Uganda are the most useless class

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye has argued that elites in Uganda are the most useless group in the country. Let us test this thesis and seek to prove what it reveals. The beginning point is poverty statistics from our Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) 2018. We know that the more educated one is, the higher is the likelihood that they will be living in urban areas, have a higher income and therefore the more elite they will be. The highest concentration of elites in Uganda is in Kampala and Wakiso district. These are the places letting Uganda down, right?

The districts in Uganda with the lowest number of people living in poverty are Kampala (2.6%) and Wakiso (2.7%). The districts with the highest number of people living in poverty are Kotido (73.4%) and Nabilatuk (73.1%) both located in Karamoja region. While NRM has failed to deliver much to these semi educated, rural and poverty-stricken people, Besigye would like us to believe that these are the real hope for Uganda who understand our reality better and thus are able to make superior political choices than elites in Kampala, right?

In the 2016 elections, Besigye beat President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala with 66% of the vote against 31%. In Wakiso, Besigye won by 60% against 37% for Museveni.  Meanwhile the semi literate and poverty-stricken people of Kotido voted 91% for Museveni and only 3.5%. In Moroto Museveni got 90% against Besigye’s 5.6%. Besigye is therefore saying the elites in Kampala and Wakiso who vote overwhelmingly for him have let the country down – unless, of course, Besigye is taking of the richest one percent of Ugandans. This group is highly privileged and therefore invested in the status quo. To expect them to vote for change is naïve.

There are other factors that influence voter behavior and identity is a powerful one. Museveni has spent his political life arguing against the role of identity (ethnicity or religion) in shaping political choices. But his arguments cannot change human nature – we humans are genetically tribal in our thinking. I will not devote space dealing with this subject because the neural psychologist, Joshua Greene, has written an insightful book on the subject titled “Moral Tribes” which I highly recommend for you the reader.

The other districts with the lowest levels of poverty in the top ten districts of Uganda are Sheema 5.9%, Bushenyi 6.9%, Mbarara 7.0%, Kalangala 7.2%, Kiruhura 8.2%, Kabarole 8.7% Mukono 8.9% and Rukungiri 8.9%. Except for Mukono and Kalangala, all these districts are located in Museveni’s tribal homeland of Ankole and its northern neighbour Toro. Kalangala must be rich because of BIDCO and its oil palm business. See how wrong I was when I fought Museveni in 2005 for giving land and tax incentives to BIDCO to begin planting oil palm in that island? Mukono is in the top league because it is a town nearest to Kampala. Theirs riches are not tribal but an urban dividend.

Let us look at voting patterns in these places where fewer people live in poverty even though they are located in Museveni’s tribal homeland. In the 2016 elections, in Sheema Museveni got 70% of the vote against Besigye’s 28%, in Bushenyi Museveni got 69%, Besigye 30%; in Mbarara Museveni got 71%, Besigye 28%, in Kalangala, Museveni got 54%, Besigye 43%; in Kiruhura Museveni got a cool 87%, Besigye a miserable 8%; in Kabarole Museveni got 76%, Besigye 22%; Mukono Museveni got 41%, Besigye 47% and in Rukungiri Museveni lost to Besigye by 48% to 50%.

6 comments

  1. “See how wrong I was when I fought Museveni in 2005 for giving land and tax incentives to BIDCO to begin planting oil palm in that island?”
    It takes honesty to confess when you are and were wrong.👍👍👍

  2. The reasoning behind this article is amusing and self defeating. World over, urban areas tend to be opposition leaning hot spots. This is largely because they are composed of educated, entrepreneur and businesses people. This group of people is able to easily see the government failures and the injustices compared to the rest of the population, and this not an exception to Besigye or Uganda. In fact, looking at the stats, the margins of Besigye’s win in urban areas are small, considering the behavior of voters in urban areas where the incumbent has been in power for more than 20 years. Therefore, Besigye’s point of elites is, I think mainly about those who have completely refused to participate in the elections, ignored assist to explain to the population about the current realities, BUT EVEN MORE ABOUT those elites that endless and deliberately misrepresent the facts as you do-Andrew most of the time. There is open letters to Andrew Mwenda in observer news paper by DEO SSELLWANGA, I recommend them to help the reader to understand my last point.

  3. 1.The elites especially the first class ones are easy to work with because they conceptualize issues easily and were well brought up.What do i mean;these are the ones whose parents are educated and are either retired Lawyers,Doctors,Teachers,Engineers or Nurses.
    2.The second class of elites are those whose parents were not educated but coz of the good education system under M7’s regime they were able to send their children to school but they still dropped so they are allover social media making uncoordinated noise these group include those whose parents are boboda riders;taxi drivers,retired sex workers,maids,market vendors and uneducated housewives their children can easily say the word komayonko and its very normal to them.
    3.The current crop of elite Ugandans are too comfortable with life in that they dont have time to participate in elections even though they participated in an election;they are too few to make an impact in the election results..
    3.Time will come when elections results will be stage manged;what do i mean; Elections are about the majority winning so how do you surrender power to the majority in Uganda who are so clueless about how the world works?
    4. Between the rich and poor who needs the other more and who can do without the other?

    • This is very absurd Mwenda! You surely should not have analyzed or assessed KB’s assertion by the absurd so-called elections in Uganda, which we all now know that KB does no longer believe in – ANYMORE. I think you have not been following KB, absurdly again. And you are an elite, I hear! What KB implies is that our people – educated or not, but perhaps uneducated forgivable – are so innert and so disappointingly sheepish as even to believe that so-called elections can cause change in Uganda. In fact, they should even not be participating in the absurd so-called elections. Because they should prove that they are smarter than this. Yes, you will ask: for all this time why has he participated in elections? There is no problem with that. We all wake up at one time or another. Isn’t it only natural?

      What KB is referring to is that they (elites) are merely there sleeping waiting for mere elections in order to have been known to have so-called excercised their civil right. He is saying it takes quite more than this. You don’t vote if you are not going to push also. You demand but also broadcast also internationally. After all they have the tools: the knowledge, all the platforms, the strategic voices out there, i.e. friends and contact; etc. But, of course, in the final analysis, neither you AM nor KB understand the situation. It is a little more complicated than that. Pray, one time I will come back.

    • Great Submission Winnie
      I subscribe to your sense of humor!

  4. I find the part on quantitative analysis still wanting, elites can be described on three dimensions, intellect, social and economic superiority, while you explain that there is correlation between education and income and therefore being urban, you don’t give how many of people for example in Wakiso belong to which income or even education class or level. In Wakiso could be belonging to lower levels of education to be called elites but are intellectually enlightened or even highly entrepreneurial. Besigye may need to explain further who are his ‘Elites’ because as you point out a snapshot in what general statistics say is not in his favor. I believe he refers to the educated, employed (including under and over employed) not necessarily urbanized who don’t take politics seriously and therefore don’t vote. Its also known that when this class grows (the so called middle class),sitting governments have potential to last longer. otherwise its good points raised for opposition political strategists to begin with.

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