The president of Uganda bagged his sixth time period after an election end result that has been broadly thought to be unsurprising, however residents are already asking who will take over from him.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, 76, is the third-longest actively serving head of state in Africa, having been in energy for greater than three a long time. The Electoral Fee of Uganda introduced his re-election by simply lower than 59% of the votes on 16 January, cementing one other five-year keep in energy for him and his social gathering, the Nationwide Resistance Motion.
Echoing Museveni’s assertion in his post-victory speech that this had been the “most cheating-free” ballot within the nation’s historical past, 35-year-old Ugandan citizen Susan Nimusiima says it has certainly been the fairest. Nimusiima is from Mbarara in western Uganda, a metropolis near Musenevi’s delivery district of Ntungamo, and can be from the identical ethnic group. Though there wasn’t a heavy army presence within the space as a result of it supported Museveni, there was an unwritten rule to stay at dwelling after casting a vote in case something went improper.
“Individuals are completely satisfied that [Museveni] has received, however there are questions of transition,” she stated. “He’s an ageing man. What subsequent, what occurs when he can now not be the chief? Who will take over, how will he deal with these ethnic tensions, will we have the ability to survive the transition? We face all these questions and we do not have solutions … however we hope one of the best comes out and we get an excellent chief and the nation goes ahead.”
Arthur Oyako, 34, a former journalist and communications officer based mostly in Kampala, stated he had hoped this election would produce an undisputed end result. “I went in hoping that possibly there could be an excellent change. Each election since 1996 has at all times ended up within the courts,” he stated.
However deep down, Oyako had a sense Museveni would stay in energy. And that the strongest opposition contender, Bobi Wine, continues to be underneath home arrest reveals him that not a lot has modified. For greater than every week now, Wine has been confined to his dwelling, which is surrounded by armed forces. A United States ambassador was denied entry when he tried to go to Wine on 19 January. On 25 January, the Uganda Excessive Court docket dominated that the military should vacate his home.
A rustic divided
Oyako stated it is nonetheless too early to inform the temper on the bottom as a result of it takes time for the “outcomes and the rigging to sink in”, however folks in his suburb have chosen to maneuver on from the election. He stated, nevertheless, that the nation stays deeply divided.
“You may have previous individuals who skilled the years earlier than Museveni got here into energy, and each time they see the military patrolling or helicopters hovering they imagine that Museveni has given them a semblance of peace. And so they assume, ‘If we vote in any other case, we may return to the times of insecurity,'” he stated.
The November protests that broke out after Wine’s arrest additionally made folks afraid of the federal government reverting to the violent practices of these previous regimes, and lots of didn’t help Wine taking on based mostly on this, Oyako added. The deaths of no less than 54 folks within the riots have nonetheless not been investigated.
Nimusiima says folks really feel otherwise in regards to the election in numerous areas, significantly in Buganda, the central area from which Wine hails. “In Buganda … there’s a little little bit of stress. Individuals are running a blog on-line that Bobi Wine have to be launched. After all, a part of the rationale for the home arrest is so he isn’t capable of mobilise and organise riots. So in Buganda, the sensation is that this isn’t over. However on this facet, the sensation is that of reduction. We will breathe for one more 5 years, however we have to begin asking ourselves who’s subsequent to take over,” she stated.
The shutdown of the web for 5 days has been lifted, however folks had been unable to entry their financial institution accounts or talk with their family members whereas it was in place. Those that declare electoral fraud, together with Wine, have stated they may publish proof on social media as soon as entry to those platforms is restored as effectively.
“Either side had quite a lot of brokers with faux accounts organising everyone [on social media], so it was form of heated earlier than elections. However as soon as there was an web shutdown, folks had been capable of vote and return dwelling,” stated Nimusiima, including that life was slowly returning to regular.
Voting within the election was divided alongside ethnic strains, with folks selecting leaders from their areas, says Nimusiima. Her most well-liked candidate had been Mugisha Muntu, however she feared he would not make it so she voted for Museveni, and lots of of her pals did the identical.
“In Mbarara, as a metropolis, we had been beforehand divided between former candidate Kizza [Besigye] and the present president. This time the sentiment was that we should not get [Wine] into energy for the essential purpose that he’s actually not prepared for management. Additionally, there was quite a lot of ethnic hostility in direction of us as a area due to the incumbent’s lengthy keep in energy, so the sensation was we must always not let [Wine] get into energy. Even individuals who had beforehand not voted for the incumbent went to go and vote for him,” stated Nimusiima.
Creator Lyn Ossome, a senior analysis specialist on the Institute for Financial Justice in Johannesburg, contends that though not overt, “there may be an ethnic wrestle on the coronary heart of Ugandan politics. That is a part of the expectation and fixed failure of … political competitions structured round a liberal democratic system, that we purchase into the narratives of free and honest,” stated Ossome.
“What’s free and honest when we’re not addressing the claims [made by the opposition]? Folks proceed to vote as a result of there’s something at stake for them. Younger folks do not vote as a result of they’re younger, they vote as a result of there’s something at stake for them.”
Ossome says the liberal democratic system is a reasonably unstable means of figuring out outcomes in nations which can be nonetheless coping with the legacies of colonialism. “These legacies embrace questions of ethnicity, what we name politicised ethnicity. They embrace gender and gendered violence, racism, violence and so forth. Each context needs to be understood by way of its personal historical past.
“We now have to take the structural legacies of colonialism critically as a result of they proceed to find out our electoral outcomes in lots of components of the continent, and Uganda isn’t any exception. A part of our concrete responsibility and duty is to show this technique that’s embedded within the liberal democratic notion of politics, which we see in nation after nation on the continent is simply not a good means of figuring out political outcomes, particularly for these on the margins,” stated Ossome.
Not prepared to guide
Nimusiima says Wine’s political rhetoric has included him saying he’s going to chase folks out of sure areas, which can embrace refugees who’ve purchased property and settled in Uganda. “If you understand the historical past of Uganda, [these areas are] internet hosting many refugees who’ve settled and married right here. You can’t say you’ll chase them [away]. You’re going to break up households if you will try this. He’s enjoying on sentiments which have excessive feelings round them and can create victims of people who find themselves harmless,” she stated.
This, Nimusiima says, strengthens her argument that Wine is just not prepared to guide. “He has solely spent just a few years in Parliament. He received a by-election and he took on the mass enchantment of being a pop musician. He had no agenda for the nation. When confronted with questions of his agenda for the nation, he has no reply [and] would confer with the incumbent’s programme. He is aware of nothing about management. He’s good at mobilisation, he is good at interesting to lots, however he actually would not know a lot about management and doesn’t perceive how the economic system works. So sure, he’s beloved. Sure, he’s supported. However actually, as a frontrunner, he isn’t able to tackle energy.”
Though Wine didn’t win, greater than 3.4 million folks voted for him. And Museveni misplaced in Buganda for the primary time since multiparty elections had been launched, which is a major end result. Ossome says Wine’s variety of votes has normally been the opposition threshold, however his failure to deal concretely with the rural-urban query in addition to questions on land and peasants is a part of the rationale for his loss.
“A largely city marketing campaign is okay, but when you will wage a marketing campaign on it and your agenda is solely to take away a dictator, it isn’t an agenda. Successful a reputation contest on social media may be very completely different from constructing an area and fashionable base. In Uganda, the one that would have the ability to do that’s the one that can command – politically and economically – the peasantry, the agricultural inhabitants and concrete, semi-proletarianised inhabitants with necessary hyperlinks to rural Uganda,” she stated.
Flaws of social media
There was quite a lot of speak about Wine’s massive social media following not translating into votes, and Ossome says one can not depend upon the medium as a political software.
“That is a very necessary level. You can’t depend upon a medium you can not management. For those who do not management social media, you can not depend upon it. Look what occurred … Bobi Wine has been counting on international journalists to get phrase out. There’s a class query with social media. Accompanying that land query is that this rural-urban divide and once more, this goes again to historic context. Uganda is a largely agrarian society. When Museveni got here into energy in 1986, the peasant base was his strongest base and he understands this.”
Ossome says she has not been shocked by both the violence that accompanied the election or its end result, significantly that the “regime would resort to those sorts of techniques, together with the illegal incarceration of the primary opposition chief”.
“You want the political legitimacy to manipulate. If there’s a important [part of the] inhabitants that feels disenfranchised, we have now to ask ourselves the place it’s main,” she stated.
In a digital assembly on South Africa’s roles chairing the United Nations Safety Council and African Union on 20 January, Naledi Pandor, the nation’s worldwide relations and cooperation minister, stated no assertion had been issued on the Ugandan election outcomes. She stated the federal government was “loath to make a fast judgement” and paying shut consideration to the scenario in Uganda.
“President [Cyril] Ramaphosa, as chair of the African Union, is in communication with President Museveni, and we hope that that nation will connect to democracy and freedom and that a few of what we’re seeing within the media will come to an finish,” she stated.