Every time after elections, there are regime apologists ready to explain why the opposition did not win the election!
The paid spin-masters will always claim that the opposition did not win genuinely, and suggest that the forces of change need to use the next five years organising so as to stand better chance in the next election. I have heard them previously claim that the opposition does not win because they have no agents to collect the DR forms, that the opposition has no structures countrywide, etc. The intention is of necessity to explain away the absurd levels of rigging and give some sense of hope that if you organise better next time, you can beat Museveni in an election organised by the likes of Mr. Byabakama. Sadly, these narratives are often bought by intelligent people who in turn try to sell them to the population!
To debunk these narratives, in this election, we deployed polling agents in more that 95% of all polling agents in the country. Even in places like Karamoja, Kiruhura, Kazi, etc which are dreaded, we had identified agents. Through the generous support of Ugandans here and abroad, we facilitated the vast majority of them.
But what did the regime do? The day before the election, there were sweeping operations in several districts where supervisors of constituencies were arrested. People who were found distributing appointment letters for polling agents in Masaka, Lira, Kiruhura, Isingiro, Bundibugyo, etc were rounded up and the appointment letters confiscated. In Lango, Karamoja, Kigezi, etc, the regional supervisors themselves were picked up and arrested. The intention was to frustrate the coordination efforts. In Moroto, the team was released at midday after the ballot stuffing had been accomplished. Other comrades who had gone there as supervisors had been kept for three days, only to be released with instructions not to set foot in Karamoja again. During interrogation, they were asked where the UVote servers were, and told that if they did not disclose this information, they would be charged with offences relating to recruitment of rebels!
In Lira, some of the arrested were released at 8:00pm and others on the following day. Of course, with an internet shutdown coupled with a suppressed press, it was impossible to relay this information. Once people were in the dark, the operatives had a field day executing their sinister plans.
Then they descended on polling agents. Very many were arrested and detained. In places like Kamwenge, our polling agents had to choose between money and jail! Those who refused to be bought off were arrested. On election day, we were overwhelmed by phone calls of NUP and opposition agents being sent away from polling stations or simply arrested. They would come and ask one to identify himself or himself. Once you showed them your appointment letter, they would immediately confiscate it and tell you that you no longer had a job to do at the station. Any hesitation would earn these comrades slaps, an arrest or both!
As the fraud went on, the places where some agents tried to raise questions, they were treated with so much violence. In Isingiro, one of them was nearly killed – they aimed for his neck, but the panga got his arm which he had quickly put up in defence. He is on the run. His crime was running away with a set of pre-ticked ballot papers and trying to object to whatever was going on. In some cases, people who were not our polling agents were assigned to sign on the DR forms as our agents, by presiding officers who should be independent in their work! Indeed, if you look at some of the DR forms with grave anomalies, you’ll see that some strange people signed as our polling agents!
But even with this state of affairs, in several districts, we were able to have polling agents and were able to collect the biggest number of DR forms in recent history. Then the regime’s target quickly moved to the collected DR forms. In the districts of Isingiro, Rubirizi, Bundibugyo, etc, operatives waylaid our people and took away the forms. Then they went for those which made their way to Kampala. Between 15th and 20th January, several operations were made targeting people who were thought to have the forms. Those who were found in possession of the forms were either charged with threatening violence, spreading COVID19 or altering Electoral materials!
It is therefore absurd to hear anyone say that the opposition does not win because they don’t deploy polling agents and such other narratives.
This is my hope and conviction: Freedom will come to Uganda.
David Lewis Rubongoya is the Secretary General for National Unity Platform-NUP.
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