Since the General Elections in 2016, we have had 16 by-elections for Parliamentary seats. The NRM has won nine (9) by-elections and lost seven (7); five (5) to Independents, most of whom are NRM leaning in: Kyadondo County East – Wakiso District; Aruu North County – Pader District; Igara County East – Bushenyi District; and two Persons with Disabilities; and two (2) to the opposition: Jinja East County – Jinja District and, recently, in Rukungiri. Those won by the NRM were in: Ruhaama County – Ntungamo District; Iganga District; Kibaale District; Kaboong District; Kibanda North County – Kiryandongo District; Upper Madi County – Arua District; Toroma County – Katakwi District; Kagoma County – Jinja District; and Kamuli Municipality Constituency.
We have also had 8 Elections for Woman Member of Parliament for new Districts winning seven (7) and losing one (1) to the Opposition – DP. Those won by NRM were in the following Districts: Bunyangabu; Namisindwa; Rukiga; Pakwach; Rubanda; Kagadi; and Omoro; with the Opposition (DP), taking Kyotera District.
The sentiment and support for the NRM is always very strong in most of these areas. However, I have noticed four problems in many of the areas. The four problems are: Leaders not linking with the economic interests of specific groups in a systematic way (agriculture, small scale industry and services); lack of organizational political linkages with villages or urban groups; Leaders of the NRM in the different areas taking sides within the intra-movement competitions, thereby annoying some of the Movement supporters; and lack of thorough preparations for elections.
The population still supports the NRM mainly because of security and, more recently, because of the visible expansion of the infrastructure – especially the roads and powe (electricity). Some of the unresolved murders of the Moslem Sheikhs, Kaweesi and Kiggundu had shaken the confidence of the people somewhat. However, the arrest of some of the Magara killers, the crushing of the Kiddawalime group in Lwengo and Masaka that had killed 6 people on the New Year’s Eve and the arrest of the killers of the women in Entebbe has, somehow, balanced the picture. The recent murder of Hon. Abiriga has, again and understandably, created a new scare. There are, however, some clues already and this murder came when the gaps in our capacity of fighting crime in the urban areas were beginning to be closed.
When the culprits are arrested, I foresee the confidence being restored. In the areas that were previously disturbed by war, the population, of course, are very happy except in Kasese where there were other Local problems. However, the sight of the shining new roads of tarmac, the presence of electricity, etc., please the populations in those areas: Kamwengye, Kisoro, Bundibugyo, Isingiro, Gomba, Kamuli, Kaliro, Kitgum, Nimule, Arua, Buikwe, etc., etc. People see that if so much can be done, then even more will be done.
Nevertheless, the support for the NRM would have been more consolidated if the four mistakes were addressed.
Again, to reiterate, the four mistakes are:
- Leaders not linking with the economic interests of the Local people in a systematic way. The People need clear examples, in each area, of how they can get out of poverty by implementing our 4 acres plan model, or the different variations of it; participating in small scale industries (shoe-making, food-processing, furniture-making, metal fabrication, leather-tanning, cloth weaving, knitting, making sports equipment –footballs, cricket-bats, etc), making music equipment (drums, electrified nanga, electrified ndingyiri, electrified adongu, electrified Teso adongu, etc), making carpets, making curtains, making paper from banana fibres, etc., etc.; and services ─hotels, restaurants, mchomo, boda bodas, taxis, buses, music, drama, health care, education, legal work etc.
Where this is done, even modestly, it is not easy for the opposition to sway people away from the NRM. This is the case in the Cattle Corridor where the Dairy Industry has taken root, some areas of Ibaanda, some areas of Masaka where coffee has been developed and even the areas of Bundibugyo where cocoa, coffee and rice had taken root until the area was disturbed by tensions around the Cultural leaders. Even areas that had been mismanaged politically by our people, such as Kampala and Rukungiri. Given the limited interventions I made directly with a few youth groups, the situation became quite positive. Hence, in the recent by-election in Rukungiri, the opposition had to box itself in a criminal trap, out of desperation, of incredibly using open and crude sectarianism of religion (Catholics vs Protestants) and tribe (Bakiga vs Bahororo). I am trying to corroborate these stories.
If they are true, all those involved will have to be held accountable. Even then, it was not easy for them to sway the people and they had to use subterfuge, as I will show later, using the lack of proper preparation on our side.
- The lack of organisational linkages with the grass roots is the next problem. In the case of Rukungiri, in spite of some elements using crude sectarianism, the people could not be swayed. What, then, did the opposition do? Use manipulation taking advantage of the lack of linkages between the Local people and the NRM leadership that was directly managing the operation. One of the rumours they started was that the FDCs had been given money by the NRM. They said: “Itwe nitutuunga sente, Imwe muteera oburuuru mutaine ekimutungire”. This could be translated as: “for you, you vote for the NRM, while for us the NRM leaders give us money even when we vote against them!” With our fast communication with our mobile phones, this would have been detected by our grass-root groups and counter-acted with SMSs. After campaigning very successfully on the 28th and 29th of May, 2018, holding 9 big or very big rallies at the Sub-county levels except for Nyakagyeme, I did not follow up again and I shouldn’t have done so because there are people to do that. Only to find out later that, that was one of the problems. Another confusion was caused by the Ushs. 200,000 sent to each Village Committee. There is a claim that the Committee members shared it among themselves. Apparently, this annoyed the generality of our members and it affected the voting to some extent. Yet, I had given clear instructions that this money should only be used to buy a hard-cover book for record-keeping per village and the rest should be used to transport old persons to vote or just be kept for future use by the Village Committee. Apparently, instead of doing this, I hear that those who received the money shared it among themselves to the annoyance of some of the electing majority. How could this happen when I emphasized this point so much to the Secretary General and all the Leaders involved in the campaign? In order not to allow any argument about some members benefitting financially while others do not, I insisted on strictly only refunding the exact cost of the money spent on transport by the people who came to meet me at my Ntungamo home on the night of the 28th of May, 2018. This principle should, in future, be adhered to.
Refund strictly the exact money spent on transport and possibly one meal on the way if applicable.
- The third mistake appears to be some of the NRM Leaders taking sides in the intra –NRM competitions. When, some weeks ago, I met the confused Catholic Priests, led by one Katsigaire, they were bitterly complaining about Major General Jim Muhwezi’s bias, or opposition to, Hon. Paula Turyahikayo and yet she was the Movement flag bearer. Apparently, Jim fought her in the primaries and, even after she won the primaries, the priests were alleging that the Jims promoted an Independent against her. When I met Leaders at Ntungamo, I criticized this. I had criticized this tendency in the past. When Hon. Janet K. Museveni developed interests in competing in Ruhaama, I first opposed the idea totally until the Local elders insisted. Even, then, I could not support her in the primaries. It was only after the primaries, that I supported her as a flag bearer. Politics is scientific, not emotional. We should only support what is politically correct and eject any subjectivism. Any leader who does this, must be held accountable. NRM leaders trying to impose candidates on the members of the Party must stop.
The NRM leaders should accept any person the members elect fairly.
- Finally, the problem of lack of thorough preparation. Rukungiri has got 16 sub-counties, 75 parishes and 280 polling stations. Surely, the NRM leaders should have had their agents per polling station to, first of all, verify the voters on the register. Are they the true voters known in the area? Secondly, ensuring that, through cheap means, you keep in touch with the 30 leaders per village, who also keep in contact, by word of mouth, with the NRM members in the village. Thirdly, when it comes to the voting day, we should have our own hard cover book where everybody that comes to vote will be recorded, so that we guard against votes stuffing.
Why should we have more votes in the box than the people who turned up to vote? It means ballot-stuffing. Fourthly, the opposition should not be allowed to import personnel in the district – hooligans and undemocratic leaders who come to intimidate village voters. Each candidate should only be allowed 2 agents for monitoring. These are the ones to monitor that there were no electoral malpractices. I am told that there is another category of “observers”.
These are supposed to observe but not to intervene; they should, apparently, only report. Yet, the opposition imports hooligans and the undemocratic leaders to intimidate unprotected villagers with impunity. They accommodate these hooligans in hotels or the homes of the opposition local supporters. On the Election Day, they fan out along the village paths and start intimidating the people going to vote. In Jinja, they were ambushing women coming out of their mizigo with words of intimidation. They even use rape against our supporters when they are going back home.
The security does nothing. In the case of Rukungiri, I specifically asked Jim as to who would co-ordinate the security. He said that he would do it himself. With whom? He said with the DPC etc. Nothing happened on the Election Day. There was very light Police deployment and no other security personnel. Fifthly, cliquism in preparations. There is no transparency and common planning by the leaders partly because of mutual suspicions but also partly because of wrong work methods. If you have done your thorough mobilization, what are you hiding from your fellow leaders?
The only danger I can think of is for the double-dealers to leak the names of our agents to the opposition who could then be compromised. Why should we not have reliable agents that are not compromizable by money? Can NRM fail to have 560 reliable votes monitors like in Rukungiri? Besides, electronic voting should help.
I congratulate our tens of thousands of supporters in Rukungiri who, on their own, resisted the intimidation of the religious opportunists and local hooligans to vote for the NRM. I am closely monitoring the activities of the opportunists and will give all the support to our brave warriors. Divided Local leadership also wastes a lot of their time.
Let us wake up and be serious.
Yoweri K. Museveni Gen (rtd)
NRM CHAIRMAN AND PRESIDENT