For the umpteenth time, Rtd Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye has come out to categorically state that elections cannot kick President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni out of power. Besigye made the remark while appearing on NBS TV’s Morning Breeze show today.
In what appeared to be a veiled dig at Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, who is the only person to so far have declared their candidature in the 2021 election, Dr Besigye said the current government under President Yoweri Museveni cannot allow a free and fair election to take place in the country.
“Ending rule by guns isn’t going to happen through a throw of a piece of paper in a box. Dictators and people who dominate others use four tools; fear, bribes, divide and rule as well as controlling information and propaganda. Forces that try to fight the regime are being infiltrated and that’s how the government survives,” he said.
This pattern of remarks has been common with Dr Besigye in the years leading to a general election. He first made the remarks in 2010. He even went as far as threatening not to participate in the 2011 general elections. Surprisingly, he got nominated and contested as a candidate. In the years preceding the 2016 elections, Dr Besigye declared that contesting in the elections without reforms would be a waste of time. Come nomination day, he was there, and he contested in the election process without any reforms being implemented. We are now one year away from the 2021 elections and here he is again issuing the same threats. Is he a spoiler, or?
Now, let’s not get mistaken. Besigye makes a compelling case for the futility in participating in Museveni’s elections. He talks about the appointment of the electoral commission that is done by one of the candidates, Mr. Museveni. He talks of failure by the government to implement the directives of the Supreme Court during presidential election petitions, he talks about the participation of security forces in the electoral process on the side of the NRM candidate, he talks of institutionalised bribery and vote-rigging and the merger of the state with the NRM party. He also hinges his argument on his experience as a candidate in the past four general elections as well as the verdicts of the Supreme Court every time a presidential petition has been brought before the court.
All the reasons he makes are serious and they are convincing. However, what is disturbing is that Dr Besigye, besides discouraging those who want to participate in the election, doesn’t provide an alternative way. We all know that a government in Uganda can only be legally changed through the ballot. So, if Besigye says that this is impossible, then what next, guns?
Also, Dr. Besigye track record of dismissing the elections as useless and then going ahead to participate in the same elections is counterproductive in two ways. One, it breeds voter apathy as opposition voters are convinced that their participation is futile and they are better off staying away from the polls. This hands a clear victory to the NRM. Secondly, such dismissive declarations disorganise the opposition’s plans of ably preparing for an election, well knowing that they are handicapped, and working around the handicaps to ensure that they scoop victory.
Before the 2016 elections, Besigye dismissed the electoral process and advised people not to register for National Identity Cards. The result; over 48% of eligible voters kept away from the polls. Imagine if a sizeable number of these had turned up to vote and had voted for the opposition!! This year, he declared 2019 as the year of action, a year when Museveni will be kicked out. We have 2 months to go and besides heavy rains, we are yet to witness anything that we haven’t seen before.
We at this point want the good old opposition General to help us with a way forward. We all know that Museveni should have left about a decade ago, if this country is to move forward. We, therefore, ask; if not elections, what will kick Museveni out?