New Dawn | What Does a Kyagulanyi Victory Mean for Party Politics in Uganda?

Posted June 30, 2017 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Kyadondo East MP Elect. ~ 3,143 views


By Ronnie Mayanja — A Political novice Robert Kyagulanyi is now the MP elect for Kyadondo East and has successfully silenced his critics from the get go he was favorite to win this seat . His story and campaign are definitely one that Nollywood should adapt for screen play or a motion picture. Hon. Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi, or Bobi Wine as he is better known in the entertainment world, declared his intention to contest for the Kyadondo East parliamentary seat which fell vacant after the Court of Appeals upheld the nullification of the 2016 elections, following NRM Sebalu’s appeal against FDC’s Kantinti. Kyagulanyi would later defeat those two candidates in the by-election that was held June 29th.

Huge crowds for Kyagulanyi translated into votes by a landslide, embarrassing the establishment in the process after both NRM and FDC pitched camp in Kyadondo East for days but the vote count for both parties could not even reach a third of Kyagulanyi’s result – 25,659 votes in total, NRM’s Sebalu came in second with 4556 votes while FDC’s Kantinti would be a distant third with 1832 votes..

During the February polls last year Kantinti got 9,005 votes while Senalu, the runner up bagged 8,679 votes. It seems voter apathy could be a factor in our politics when people don’t see change coming they will stay away from the polls and in the above case both candidates were separated by only 326 votes forcing an election petition by the NRM candidate.

I am not privy to Kyagulanyi’s manifesto but a win by such a wide margin in this constituency is perhaps the strongest indication yet that people are getting tired of the status quo–not even Museveni or Besigye’s heavy lifting could help their candidates compete against this man out of the Ghetto who, in the past, has described himself as the President of the Republic of Uganjaland. In the age when social media drives perceptions it will be interesting to see how this win for Kyagulanyi impacts multi-party politics in Uganda.

But having come out of  a very public feud with Nkuluze Trust (the Mengo Royal Treasury) following the demolition of Bobi Wine’s parking lot at the One Love Beach in Busaabala, Wakiso District that left him wounded after he accused some Mengo officials of malice, his victory must be causing jitters in the Mengo power centers and some Kingdom loyalists. To many people Bobi Wine was also known as a Mubanda wa Kabaka and the fall out with Mengo had some Baganda divided over the issue! 

Following the events above and the subsequent blunder of arresting Kyagulanyi on the last day of the election campaign could have cost his opponents especially NRM’s Sebalu. I was speechless after seeing images and video that NRM strategists could have avoided. Arresting a popular candidate only serves to infuriate the electorate and embolden their supporters. According to some press reports that were making rounds on social media – Bobi Wine was allegedly arrested after he refused to follow police orders instructing him to abandon a scheduled campaign rally that would be interfering with a scheduled campaign rally by Museveni for the NRM candidate in Kansagati. For a well known figure like Bobi Wine and a candidate with no mainstream campaign financing to receive this treatment might have been the last straw for voters on the fence to rally their support for Kyagulani as a way of letting the establishment know that enough is enough.

The defeat of established party candidates with their structures is yet the latest indication that NRM popularity could be waning while, at he same time,  FDC as the leading opposition party has failed to gain the needed ground to unseat the ruling NRM government. Constituencies like Kyadondo or districts like Kampala and Wakiso are meant to be the must-wins for this party.  After all these years, it is clear that FDC has a lot of work to do before they can ever dream of occupying State House. With rumor mills and social media awash with statements that perhaps Robert Kyagulanyi was planted to prevent the FDC win there, many are disappointed in the party that has tried to wrestle power from a government that has held it for over 30 years.

With fresh lessons from Brexit, Trump and now Macron, who won with with no party structures in France,  I guess we are learning that a society on the brink can defeat the strongest financial muscle. The monetizations of elections in Uganda has scared off many in the middle class that should actually be in Parliament and left us at the mercy of would-be grocery seekers and those looking for employment and get-rich schemes. Ofcourse Bobi Wine faces scrutiny with the likes of Kato Lubwama and Mubarak Munyagwa in Parliament and there is also fatigue among many that politics in Uganda could also be turning into a comedy show…but truth be told a new wave of change is coming and it might cost popular politicians their coveted seats in the august house!

Uganda might be ripe for an uprising of sorts. The Kyagulanyi by-election win could be a litmus test on party popularity in Uganda and the powers that be might need to return to the drawing board and assess their loses ahead of the next election.

The Brookings Institute report puts Uganda’s challenges into perspective —three-quarters of the population are below the age of 30, coupled with the fact that the youth are getting better educated through improved access to primary and secondary education. A stronger focus on job creation for this cohort of people cannot be overemphasized. Whether Kyagulanyi can deliver or even dent the system, only time will tell.

The time for sitting on the fence is now over, the populist people power that brought us the likes of Mubarak Munyagwa, Kato Lubwama and Judith Babirye to Parliament has now brought us Kyagulanyi, but while I greatly admire Kyagulanyi, I wait to see the type of legislator he will be in the next Parliament.

Viva democracy!

— Ronnie Mayanja

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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.


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