“There was also talk that there would be another attempt at having a joint candidate for 2021 and Bobi Wine didn’t want to be left behind because using 2016 as a case study, political parties can decide not to include you. You remember at that time Erias Lukwago was one of the most powerful politicians in the country but he was left behind because he didn’t have a political party,"Kifampa said referring to the 2016 polls.
The hour of reckoning for the Kyandondo East Member of Parliament, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine has probably come a
full seven months before the whistle for the 2021 presidential elections is even blown.
When he turns to look behind, people he had thought shared his vision for
Uganda, are no longer following. Maybe after all, they too think President
Yoweri Museveni is the only visionary like he has said many times in the past.
Mayinja, Bosmic Otim, Flavia Namulindwa, Hassan Ndugga, Eddie Kenzo, Moses
Bugirwa, Paul Mwiru, Bayiga Lulume, the
list goes on, have either quit People
Power, Bobi Wine’s political vehicle or have pulled back and are just observing
at an arm’s length the happenings in the Kamwokya based political movement.
For the singers, it’s mainly
the money and the charm offensive of president Museveni that has persuaded them
to quit. To the established politicians, it’s the realisation that after all
their political destinies are not inextricably tied up with that of People Power;
so they had to pull back and reflect, according to one who spoke with URN but preferred
anonymity to speak freely.
Was it wise to form structures
and appoint coordinators? Well, the answer depends on who you ask.
To those dyed in the wool, structures are the ultimate panacea to defeating President
Yoweri Museveni’s 35 year hold onto power. But the skeptics think it was ill
advised as it exposed Kyagulanyi’s political inadequacies.
succumbed to the pressures of the time because people were saying it was everywhere
and nowhere so it had to look for credible people to represent them on the
ground,” argued Siraje Kifampa Nsambu, the Lubaga South parliamentary aspirant who belongs
to the Justice Forum political party.
Kifampa further argued that the decision to
appoint coordinators could also have been to try and circumvent a possible maneuvering
by political parties.
“There was also
talk that there would be another attempt at having a joint candidate for 2021
and Bobi Wine didn’t want to be left behind because using 2016 as a case study,
political parties can decide not to include you. You remember at that time Erias
Lukwago was one of the most powerful politicians in the country but he was left
behind because he didn’t have a political party,"Kifampa said referring to the 2016 polls.
The Democratic Alliance tried in vain to front one presidential
candidate against President Museveni in the election. “It’s better to make decisions even if they
are not very good and improve on them rather than not taking them at all,”
Dr. Joseph Kasule, a research
fellow at the Makerere University Institute of Social Research, says it would
have been disingenuous if Bobi Wine thought he would appoint structures and the
state just looks the other way.
“A government that
has been in power for 34 years has a very big intelligence machinery that
carries out investigations of who is who; their weaknesses and advantage and
they will try many tactics to dis-empower people that want to run against them.
So it’s a very big mountain for Kyagulanyi to climb,” Kasule said.
Adding that, in any case, many people didn’t think Kyagulanyi is capable of coming up with
an air tight political strategy that the regime can’t scale. Kyagulanyi doesn’t have
a lot of promises to make to Ugandans but he’s riding on the fact that the
majority Ugandans are tired of the regime. Even if Museveni stood against a bee
many people probably would vote for the bee and not him. Therefore, you can
conclude that he miscalculated on this."
To cut Kyagulanyi some slack, Kasule says it could be that by appointing structures, he wanted to know early enough who among his lieutenants is incorruptible.
has been here for way too long, the things they have acquired for themselves they
would do everything under the sun to stay in power. The only way Kyagulanyi can
unseat them is to identify a group of Ugandans who even at the cost of blood are
committed to unseat this government. They must be able to withstand temptations
for small things like money, positions and the question for Kyagulanyi is, does
he have a credible team of people who can stand with him regardless of what has
been put on table?” Kasule wonders.
In answering him, Yusuf Serunkuuma, a
political commentator and PhD Student at Makerere University, says Kyagulanyi doesn’t
need any of them. To Serunkuma, he should even celebrate when the state fishes
one after another. “I think people leaving
People Power is helping Bobi Wine. I wish by 2021 he doesn’t have even a single
person left with him. He must be alone warrior otherwise, the more he waits for
a team, the more the struggle suffers. If I had access to people around Bobi
Wine, I would tell them to keep their mouths shut. Let the man do the talking,”
He adds that by Bobi Wine shaving his long hair, dropping the
jeans in favor of a suit and by stopping to walk with a swag, he loses his identity
that made him different. “Every time he
wants to resemble these career politicians he will do normal politics yet his
edge is that he’s a creative thinker, he does unusual things that resonates
with the people,” Serunkuma says.
However Serunkuma says these abnormal things
are actually not to defeat Museveni’s regime but rather to instigate a revolt
from the inside. “Bobi Wine is not going to bring this regime down, that’s a
joke, the best he can do is to distract its flow, which gives him an edge to
prompt those in the inside to overthrow their own regime. The best contribution
against Museveni is to inspire Gen Salim Saleh or Janet Museveni to take the
presidency but if he thinks he can defeat Museveni, he’s day dreaming. He must
inspire the forces in the inside the NRM who have power to see Museveni as a liability to their access to resources because now they look at him as a guarantor,”
Serunkuma said. We are not surprised
Unlike the pundits
who smell trouble in Kyagulanyi’s court, those in the inside believe that as much as they would want to keep everybody
in their fold, anybody who breaks away leaves them stronger.
Roy Ssembogga, a former Makerere University
guild president who’s one of the earliest recruits of Bobi Wine, says indeed
many people have left the loose political grouping but likewise, many have
joined their rank and file.
“Most people go to the government to pick money but
inherently they are not NRM and they don’t believe in President Museveni. Appointing
coordinators doesn’t mean that we have given up on other amorphous structures that
Museveni cannot touch. That’s why he’s buying many people who he doesn’t even
know what they have been doing in People Power,” Ssembogga said.
For Joel Ssenyonyi,
the People Power mouthpiece, their organisation maintains an open door policy;
you come in and leave at will. “There are those whose motivation is to make money and knowing that now People Power
is the thing, they will come around, take selfies with us, abuse Museveni such
that they can tomorrow seek audience with him and make some money,” Ssenyonyi
“But for us, its good riddance because the sooner those leave us the
better because they are not committed to the struggle we are in,” Ssenyonyi
said. He also defended the creation of structures, however vulnerable they are
to state penetration.
He said although they are not a political party, they ought
to be organized if they are to unseat an establishment that has been in power
for 34 year. “Whatever you do you
have to be organized because Museveni thrives on state structures paid for by us
the tax payers. If we want to unseat him, we have to be more organized that’s why
we had to have these structures," he said.