WHAT MR. WINE MUST DO TO MAKE M7 WEEP IN 2021
By John V Sserwaniko
It’s a fact that Bobi Wine Kyagulanyi Sentamu’s People Power craze is the thing now (to use Justice Ogoola’s word). It has taken the Kyaddondo East MP places he never imagined. It has also seen his profile rapidly grow in just months. This, as Semujju Nganda noted in his Wednesday column, is something even Mr. Wine himself never anticipated. But it would also be deceptive for to conclude that the Kyagulanyi momentum generated so far is sufficient to get Museveni out of power. There is a lot more Mr. Wine must do to translate this momentum into tangible results if he is to significantly impact on the Uganda political terrain. For his supporters, it’s ideal and desirable that he goes all the way using 2021 elections to overcome Museveni. That’s perfectly okay yet the dilemma is that overcoming Museveni, especially through polling exercise organized by his electoral commission, won’t be easy if it will ever happen at all. Even when that is the case, it remains a season of many political possibilities for Mr. Wine including ensuring that politics of this country never remains the same again and to also ensure he becomes one that Museveni (or whoever wins 2021) must make peace with or else Uganda remains ungovernable.
WHAT SHOULD HE DO?
As he financially and emotionally prepares to tackle Museveni at presidential level in 2021, it’s as important that Mr. Wine strategically works towards ensuring a significant number of MPs return on the ticket of his People Power formation. It’s very possible that his PP platform can produce a minimum of 100 MPs in the next Parliament. But this won’t come naturally. A lot of work has to be done and better if the process to select joint MP and LG candidates begins now. He is politically at a level where he can afford to tell off anybody in the opposition and get away with it. Politicians seeking electoral positions need Bobi today than he needs them. That clearly applies to everyone of course with the exception of Museveni and his NRM party candidates. As long one is opposition, they will one way or another require the Bobi endorsement. That remains the case not only in Kampala or Bobi’s native central region but the whole country mostly urbane areas. He is now where Dr. Kizza Besigye has been for many years-being able to spontaneously attract large crowds on arrival in any town of Uganda. He doesn’t need a lot of prior preparation to have a crowd come to see him. This status has for years been enjoyed by only Besigye in the opposition-the very reason many are envious of him. Whereas Besigye has managed to maintain that clout largely because of the sacrifice and consistency with which he has taken on Museveni, it’s too early to tell if Bobi will (overcome the Sebaggala syndrome and) keep that political appeal for many more years to come. This seems likely because he has repeatedly referred to being emotionally prepared to pay the ultimate price, including political martyrdom, just like Besigye has been. Granted political martyrdom isn’t a decision for the faint-hearted but maintaining the countrywide momentum and political excitement for the next three years (between now and 2021) is even a harder task for Bobi. It’s clear that to maintain that momentum for the next 3 years, Bobi needs to significantly diminish on his public appearances especially media interactions. Many won’t want to hear this but the truth is the more commonly he will grant media interviews and people get to oversee him, the faster he will become demystified (just think of the kiki ekidako question).
THE JPAM MODEL;
There is always that myth of invincibility behind a leader and the more he talks the more he becomes repetitive, predictable and contradictory. It’s really not easy to publicly speak many times, discussing almost the same topic, without becoming contradictory or even being misunderstood. He has repeatedly said his strength lies in getting all oppressed citizens heeding his call to pull together in unison but even then many of the ordinary supporters keep thinking their leaders have something mysterious up his sleeve that remains undisclosed. In our view that myth is what keeps voters hoping there is something their leader is planning to do to overcome political adversity at hand. To maintain that myth, its best that Bobi cuts down on his public appearances and begins conducting himself in a manner that will make scribes realize that it’s by the way a privilege to get an interview or even a brief comment from that man. Amama Mbabazi is a good example in our view. His prolonged silence kept people, and the media, thinking there was something unique (different from what the Besigyes had ever offered) that the man from Kanungu was going to do to finally overcome Museveni. He kept many people hoping that way until when the last vote was counted and his less than 150,000 vote tally was declared. Bobi must, out of strategy read a bit into the Mbabazi strategy and pick one or two things in the view that silence sometimes is golden. Three years is really a long time in politics and moreover in a country where you are competing with a ruling party that is going to daily be out to humiliate or even financially ruin you. As Ofwono Opondo said the other day on NBS TV, the NRM machinery now is everyday going to be working towards isolating and emotionally exhausting Kyagulanyi and other new opponents. Supporters in the upcountry towns (and even Kampala) should be made to realize that it’s a privilege to see or even hear Mr. Wine’s voice. That keeps them excited and reenergized each time they glimpse at him. Then when the real election is finally here, Mr. Wine can once again intensify his public appearances and mobilization tours across the country. Retreating a bit now from the public eye gives him chance to physically and emotionally replenish himself but most importantly to take stock and reflect on what has happened so far in the last few months that have no doubt been very eventful and dramatic in his nascent political career. It also avails him time, energy and the resources to begin planning the 2021 campaign with much of the emphasis going into clandestine consultations to agree on the list of the joint candidates he will be endorsing for MP and local council positions. Regarding that list, decisions have to be taken firmly to avoid a situation where he for instance drives to Masaka to campaign for himself and gets confronted with scenes of supporters of Mukasa Mbidde (aka VP Kyarenga) and Mathias Mpuuga fighting at his rally as a presidential candidate. This is something Dr. Kizza Besigye has suffered many times and its part of the reason why even MPs who won largely because of being associated with him have had the guts to say “he supported my opponent and was vague about my candidature even when I was the FDC flag bearer.” Multiplicity of candidates greatly affected his 2011 bid because in places like Kampala you had an average of 8 candidates on every elective position with each claiming to be his candidate. That is how Mike Mabikke supporters almost beat up Erias Lukwago at the Besigye rallies in Rubaga (Namungoona) and even Makindye Division. You had Nabillah Nagayi investing heavily in annihilating JEEMA’S Nabukenya Suuka who insisted she had a right shinning before the Besigye crowd as she was equally a member of the IPC where her JEEMA party was among the partner parties. In Rubaga North still in 2011, John Kikonyogo and Moses Kasibante almost knocked each other outside Bulange as they each struggled to position their vehicles and Public Address system nearest to KB as the convoy drove to Namungoona for the big rally. In 2016, Nabillah supporters almost killed Allan Sewanyana as he struggled to position himself near KB at the Katwe rally. Nabillah men resented Allan’s support for Shifrah Lukwago who was gunning for Kampala woman MP seat. Just imagine someone (KB), who has been toiling to campaign in the whole country being on the road daily, coming to Kampala to crown his campaigns only for his coronation day to be messed up in those candidate fights with each seeking to stand/sit closest to him? Besides people being injured, such fights create an impression that this presidential candidate’s campaign is chaotic and disorganized. This is something Mr. Wine can avoid by strictly coming up with a list of his joint candidates to ensure his endorsement is very unequivocal wherever he will be going to campaign as a presidential candidate (assuming he offers himself). Good thing he can afford to annoy any politician now because he is an independent actor not bound by any party or group decisions. This is unlike Besigye who has always been constrained by group politics and the attendant restraint. Take Kyaddondo East or even Bugiri where he privately preferred stronger candidates Bobi Wine and Asuman Basalirwa respectively but couldn’t publicly endorse them fearing to be portrayed as not complying with his FDC party position. Mr. Wine can afford to even sponsor messages on radio, TV, newspapers and other public places clearly saying the following are my People Power candidates in the respective constituencies. That makes clear who gets allowed to come & share the campaign platform with him on the day he campaigns in that locality. Many will pretend “voters like him in place X because I mobilized them” but all that will be deception because the truth is Mr. Wine’s support is spontaneously among voters which makes it very easy for him to antagonize any politician in case they insist on multiple candidates and try to disorganize his political plans for the lower level positions.
DOING A JULIUS MALEMA?
That way, regardless of what the EC announces at Presidency, Mr. Wine’s group can have its joint candidates win many MP and local council positions. Once that happens, you are certain to become the 2nd largest political grouping in the legislature and LGs. That way you don’t only significantly influence legislation and decision-making, you also get to access significant amount of financial resources with which the process can begin to transform People Power into a fully-fledged political party. With more than 30% representation in Parliament, you can veto many decisions and thereby forcing Museveni or whoever returns as president to give concessions. You become impossible to ignore and that numeric strength is partly what it will take to expose the Museveni democratic pretenses more and possibly even force him into considering retirement without much bloodshed. The platform in Parliament and local councils is very important to popularize and give visibility to the new political formation as we have seen Julius Malema’s group do in SA. It also comes with contacts with international community and regional governments & groupings like AU. You are even assured of diminishing the NRM dominance at EALA which is an additional platform to keep the governance question alive at Arusha. There is also a lot of symbolism coming with emerging the 2nd largest group in Parliament commanding over 30% of the seats. You are able to speak out and be heard whenever your supporters are brutalized by rogue security agents. You can even begin to stand higher chances to impeach ministers over improper conduct. You can paralyze critical aspects like budgeting process in Parliament and this ultimately is how you begin to force Museveni into some concessions. Yes he still has options including banning Parliament (as he has previously threatened) in case it becomes an obstacle but it’s not something a 21st century leader will do & get away with. In fact it would only be something of the last resort; Museveni is too knowledgeable not to know the risks of taking such extremist action. Mr. Wine must also avoid complicated negotiations with many political formations because such processes waste a lot of time and resources especially in cases where political wannabes make unrealistic demands and derail progress. He is at his political prime where he can ignore anyone and proceed with what he considers to be right as long as he doesn’t antagonize or talk ill of other leaders in the change-seeking formations. For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755.