By Henry Mutebe
If Bobi Wine was a flame, it is one that scotches- it burns…and if I was his political opponent, I would start to take him very seriously.
While his political infrastructure has largely remained amorphous, whether that is by design or mistake, it is now clear that the damn thing is functioning.
The resignation of Joel Senyonyi from NTV, whether it was voluntary or induced, to join the People Power political outfit, as spokesperson, speaks volumes about Bobi Wine’s expanding political magnetic field. To attrack Joel is to attract many people of Joel’s status to the people power fold. In my view, Joel brings a lot of political fuel to the people power engine and its acceleration is no doubt going to increase.
I think that one of the problems Bobi Wine has largely struggled with in the infancy of his political assault, is the dearth of sharp tools in his political box. While there are many politicians around, many of them are clearly simply utilising his power to secure their political interests. Few are giving him edge or leverage like he is giving them.
Many people, while they agree with the people power movement, are or were still uncomfortable with its face. But I think as we edge to the last bend towards 2021, Bobi Wine is starting to make gains.
Joel is a crossover machine able to effectively appeal to both the omuntu wa bulijo in the central region, where Bobi Wine has the strongest appeal, through his ability to use Luganda but also be able to connect with those on the top floor of society across the geographical divide.
I think that Joel is capable of bringing more believers to the people power group. He is able to engage in thorough debate, has a cross cultural understanding of issues and brings to the team a wealth of knowledge on socioeconomic matters, some of which he has learnt during his debut at NTV.
Joel will be able to debate and engage those who, instead of properly reading the situation and diagnosing it to help their political principles, are simply saying that people power is ideologically bankrupt. Joel will bring a new face and energy to people power.
In the days to come, if Bobi Wine is able to pull more Joel-like characters to his arsenal, drawn from different regions and backgrounds, his political artillery will be more lethal. If he is able to achieve what in the military they call unity of command, he will be good to go.
Recently, there was a poll that generated some interesting results. I think these will boost Bobi Wine and his supporters confidence. However, before they celebrate, I think they need to understand and appreciate how serious the president is and how much support he still enjoys.
The problem with Facebook and urban societies in general, is that they tend to be spaces where people tend to associate because they share a lot of similarities or interests. So …chances are high that they will always believe that how they see things is how everyone is seeing them. They crowd think and forget that people act individually.
In many rural areas, many people still love the president. The failure to appreciate this fact always makes opposition leaders concentrate on urban areas, to preach to those who are already converted. Urban areas, world over, are always anti establishment because they often foot the burden of needs of the nation. They pay the most taxes…they come face to face with the state…and the hand of the state is always in their pockets…drilling, vacuuming and emptying it. So…urban dwellers always hate government…but they think even villagers do the same.
Buganda, especially urban areas, will largely vote for Bobi Wine, for obvious reasons. I believe that Dr Kiiza Besigye’s largest support has often been Buganda, Teso, and parts in the North. Buganda has more voters than any other region. So if they make a block vote it would change a lot of the results. As to whether all Besigye supports in all regions have shifted to Bobi is still a guess.
For Urban areas, you can guess…how they vite…but I am not sure about what will happen elsewhere. People underestimate the President and they usually see him from a weak point of view and fail to see his strength….and this is the mistake. If you don’t know your opponent’s strength and appreciate them first…and the see how to deal with them…you will always be beaten.
The west for example has traditionally voted President Museveni or a co-ethinic candidate like Dr Kiiza Besigye. In 1996 when there was Semwogere, a muganda against President Museveni, the opposition got only 2% from western Uganda. When Besigye came in 2001, a co-ethinic candidate, the share of opposition in the west increased to 18% and later to 22%…but later declined (according to the released results).
Now that Bobi Wine, an angel or devil they don’t know seems seems to be eclipsing Dr Kiiza Besigye, in the alternatives to the President, am not sure how they will voting. If Bobi Wine does not strike a partnership with Dr Kiiza Besigye and Muntu camp, the western Vote is a lost vote. They feel secure only if a co-ethnic candidate is part of the equation…whether their person is the president or the opposition candidate…and they are logical to do so.
To gain presidency…you have to appreciate their fears and interest too. And I don’t blame them. All regions vote according to their interests. Sadly …sometimes those interests are believed to be better secured though a co-ethnic candidate.
Also…while Bobi Wine and his supporters may think President Museveni is not loved in Buganda, they may need to look at statistics bulungi nyo. Since 1996-2011, President Museveni has always got an an average of 66% in the central ( excluding Kampala and Wakiso). So President Museveni still enjoys support in Buganda and it would be a fundamental misreading of the situation to imagine that because Bobi Wine is a muganda all baganda will vote for him. Outside Kampala and wakiso… The president still enjoys support…BIG Support…and you need to factor that in your strategy.
Bobi Wine needs to surround himself with believers whose work is to cheer him and boost him…and critics whose work is to see what others are not seeing and point it out. There are some people who should be left to simply see why things won’t work…why he will fail…what is not good or nice with his strategy or campaign…and then another team whose work is to take lessons from those critics and develop solutions to correct.
Once you are part for the crowd, and none is out it…to see the real size of the crowd, its easy to think you have the largest crowd in the world. So you need critics more than cheer leaders. The way people in rural areas see things is very different from those in towns and that is where the president is decided.
I think that many people are going to use People power to become MPs. Even some DP and FDC MPs are thinking about it. In politics it is about interests. Its about calculating where your interests can be secured. The NRM and other parties need to take Bobi Wine seriously.
For the first time, Buganda, the largest voting block, has a person they call their own, and that’s tricky…because in politics its about interests. NRM needs to be very careful.
I like studying embeera…and not be taken up by those who agree with me… Sometimes we need to study reality. This is why I laugh at people who say President Museveni should resign. If you or your region has never touched power, you don’t understand what it means to have power for 32 years. Ask the Langis…up to now, they wish Obote was still alive. Even when the country thinks UPC is dead…many people still dream of a UPC come back to power. So is have never believed that political actors are ever kind and compassionate on power. That’s how sweat power is. So its easy to make such jokes but in reality, Power is attained not given.
Bobi Wine and his supporters should work hard by knowing, first, that its not true that everyone hates President Museveni….and that’s very important to know. Secondly, politics is about how you are able to achieve an equilibrium of the different conflicting interests of the different groups. You need to study the central, East, north and West and know their interests…and work out a formula that can achieve an equilibrium. To be in power is to maintain an equilibrium.
But I wish everyone the very best. Peace