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Letter from the Editor | Ronnie Mayanja | March 2011

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Posted March 1, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Editorial ~ 3,752 views

     


By Ronnie Mayanja | Editor, UNAA Times Online | Greetings from Kampala. Uganda is slowly recovering from the February 18th polls but riot police deployment is still widely evident in Kampala’s major opposition strongholds. President Museveni won the day in what perhaps has been one of the most expensive elections in Uganda’s history.

But the opposition parties are still crying foul sighting major irregularities, voter bribery and stuffing of ballot boxes. The commonwealth observer team spoke out against the heavy use of state resources to fund the incumbents campaign and also noted that there was no level playing field for the opposition parties to compete but such is the power of incumbency in Africa.

In my view elections in Africa are always for incumbents to win given the sheer amount of resources at their disposal. But sad as it were I must hold the opposition accountable because they were so splintered and their failure to organise a formidable opposition meant they could never defeat a leader who had a well crafted grassroot machinery; of course they will need to re-group and borrow a leaf on how the rainbow coalition was able to edge out Moi and his hand picked successor in Kenya.

Many pundits have presented their views on why the President won and Besigye lost, I strongly feel that the monetization of this election through avenues like vote buying and material inducements greatly corrupted the mindset of many of our peasant population as votes were up for sell to the highest bidder in some constituencies and never about the key issues affecting the population. This therefore meant that the outcome of the vote in some cases was influenced by the use of the money. Opinion polls in my view played very little to influence the outcome of this election.

Therefore I hold the view that had the ground been level perhaps the result would have been alot more closer. And there would never have been the level of apathy many of the voting population exhibited on election day as it became apparent that out of the 13.9 registered voters only a total of 8.2 million
actually cast their vote. The incumbent got 5.4 million [68.38%] votes while slightly over 2 million [26.1%] votes were cast in favor of the main opposition challenger Kizza Besigye leaving about less than 4% to be shared among the other opposition candidates meaning that about 5 million voters did not receive voter education or simply stayed away because they knew who would emerge winner at the end of the polls.

Of course more scandals are now emerging after fist fights broke out during the Mayoral voting in Kampala central. The stuffing of ballot boxes with pre-ticked ballots that took place on February 23rd and the failure of the Electoral commission to explain how these materials were leaked has left some with questions about the validity of the February 18th poll.

Overall these elections went on with little or minimal interruption as opposed to the previous 2006 general election. I also had the opportunity to be part of the ground breaking ‘Decision Uganda 2011’ telecasts on NTV where I hosted several panelists who offered some in-depth analysis of Uganda’s elections.

The government should also allow those who felt disenfranchised by the process their public right to assemble and conduct peaceful protests like they do in all democracies. The muzzling of these dissenting views can only implode and lead to violence in future.

For the losers my encouragement is that re-group and re-organise for 2016 but this time take your campaigns to the grass roots and build the structures that can penetrate the peasant population. But for the newly elected leaders let me also remind you that as much as the general consensus is that Ugandans are far from a people power revolution similar to that witnessed in Egypt and Tunisia, do not under estimate the will of the people to revolt should they feel their leaders are not working for their best interests. The failure to stump out corruption, offer employment, affordable health-care and rampant poverty can be issues that can ignite an insurrection

Gaddafi’s regime is now on crutches as he fights for his political survival. The international community has now frozen his assets, and an indictment has also been issued for crimes committed against his people in his quest to crush the uprising against his 42 year old rule.

As I conclude we need to remind our African leaders that it’s the people who give you the mandate to rule and reign over us but the same people also hold the mandate to recall such leaders should they deviate from the ideals for which they were elected. Therefore the revolution that started in North Africa weeks ago
and has spread though out the Arab world, now symbolises the new order than says that those days of un-democratic governance and despotic rule are long gone!

For God and My Country.

Ronnie Mayanja
UNAA Times Online
www.unaatimes.com
Cell: 1-978-235-2459
UG Cell:+256773212007
UG Cell: +256703999898


About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

2 Comments


  1.  

    Hi Ronnie, insightful piece you wrote. But again I feel that you had to mention the rampant disenfranchisement in the elections whereby so many people were outrightly denied their democratic right to vote due to absence of their names on the voters’ register. This was so widespread that so people are beginning to think that it was aforethought by the EC. And it so happens to have happened in areas that were known opposition strongholds.
    Another observation you forgot to mention was the intimidation by security forces which barred many people from going to vote. This, of course, happened in opposition strongholds where armed soldiers were deployed, and those like Nandala Mafabi, who managed to fight back to rescue their votes are the very few. Many others just coiled. Otherwise thanks for the job you are doing.




  2.  
    Di

    Welcome to the world! Pretty sad but it’s not a level playing field.

    On the goverment allowing the public their right to conduct peaceful protests; it’s more than likely that these (let me call them) demonstrations will get chaotic and destructive. Happens when you are dealing with a mob that no one can hold accountable; just faces without names or IDs or physical addresses. There is more to lose than gain. I would be terrified to go about my daily business if such demonstrations were declared a public right.

    Otherwise, great, unbiased article.





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