The just concluded presidential nominations passed off successfully with eleven candidates now slated to be on the 2021 ballot paper, except for the publicity stunt orchestrated by Patrick Oboi Amuriat (FDC), and Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu of the National Unity Platform (NUP). It is worth noting that both belong to the defiance wing of opposition politics that does not believe change can come through the available democratic space.
Also, they know that without defiance as a publicity tool, most likely the world wouldn’t even care about what they actually stand for. Therefore, for months they have been planning to use their nomination to test their capabilities hence the talk of Plan B. Yet, three retired military Generals, Yoweri Museveni, Henry Tumukunde and Greg Mugisha Muntu not for lack of stubbornness obeyed the Electoral Commission and police guidelines on procession, numbers, routes assigned to them and had very successful and drama free nominations. This should be our expectation of national leaders.
Obviously it looks scary and going back into the ages, seeing Amuriat, a prospective president of Uganda, looking more like a village drunk in an ill-fitting suit and barefoot before the panel of Electoral Commissioners, seeking nomination. Yet, that’s the optical theatrics he wanted when he kicked off his shoes, socked the socks in wet ground and abandoned them in the holding tent. Again police breaking into Kyagulanyi’s vehicle appears extreme but his forceful removal and driving him home averted bloody confrontations which he perhaps wanted.
The bewildered EC officials, perhaps timid, although have powers to call candidates to order for being nuisance, instead joined the chorus to condemn police even when it is evident its guidelines are being flouted with reckless abandon. As campaigns progress, Ugandans should expect more choreographed drama, after all Bobi Wine is a stage actor which isn’t bad. The NRM should resist the temptation to be dragged into broadside shows by critics, and instead focus on explaining its achievements, the gaps and proposals to transform Uganda.
But as expected, the police are taking one-sided flak from the opposition, sections of the media and social critics for thwarting Amuriat and Kyagulanyi’s premeditated plans for civil disobedience. Tumukunde, Muntu and Norbert Mao who all respected the guidelines are lambasting the police mainly because they dread the poisonous scolding from the lunatic fringe sprawling social media and other platforms.
The Tuesday police operation while appear highhanded, arbitrary and perhaps unnecessary, but these groups’ actions were actually well-syndicated several days prior to nominations. FDC and NUP leaders publicly issued bellicose threats that they would not respect EC and police guidelines. They mobilised massively to embolden their supporters with the tacit nod from media houses and journalists who gave rhetoric extensive and sustained publicity.
FDC and NUP activists hoped to provoke police into extreme response with massive arrests, injuries, bullets and deaths believing these could have provided the catalyst for civil disobedience to engulf Kampala and metropolitan areas. It was, therefore, prudent their plans were nipped in the bud.
It’s evident, that a number of media houses and journalists are embedded with FDC and NUP, to falsify, twist news events and skew narratives to paint the police actions as extremely brutal, highhanded and unlawful. In one incident, a television journalist streamed the fracas live using a Smartphone belonging to a NUP leader. NUP activists threw stones and motor vehicle cutters at police vehicles but the media hasn’t reported these incidents. It is becoming evidently clear that NUP has very aggressive militia gangs around the country that must be dismantled by police before they wreck havoc through acts of nuisance, blackmail, harassment, intimidation, fights and political sabotage.
Many journalists are known to be offering consultancies to opposition political groups, yet want to pass for neutral watchdogs. Journalists from big media houses also use their personal social media platforms of twitter, facebook and instagram to drive opposition skewed narratives, and yet their employers cannot call them to order. But it is critical that in this campaign Ugandans don’t get distracted by empty broadside shows of people who are provoking violence to avoid critical analysis of their policy alternatives and finding excuses to explain their loss in the elections.
Gleaning their feeds leave footmarks of collective bias, the no media house or journalists is reporting that FDC and NUP actually sat in meetings where guidelines were agreed upon but have deliberately chosen to defy them. The media hasn’t emphatically challenged Amuriat or Kyagulanyi on why they are the only presidential candidates publicly defying the guidelines.
The disguised opposition appeal to security forces as their ‘friends’ is a stratagem to create a wedge and spilt, to ally with them as has happened in other countries especially during the Arab Spring where the Central Intelligence Agency was at work. Unknown to many people, the real motive of these groups is to build a case early enough that the election terrain hasn’t been well-leveled for a free, fair and credible outcome so that they run to court in the eventual likelihood that they lost the elections.
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