The 2021 presidential elections’ are a first we have had with a range of candidates from all key corners of the country apart from West Nile.
The forthcoming General Election brings a new dimension to the race for the highest office.
What has changed?
Come January 14th 2021 when Ugandans go to the ballot to choose their next President, they will be spoilt for choice with a variety of ‘regional candidates’ for those who want to vote for a President from a certain region other than their own or want to keep it ‘at home’ and vote a President who comes from close to them.
Western Uganda is the melting point with with 3 Generals hailing from the same region part of the 2021 presidential contest.
The big boy among these three remains President Yoweri Museveni but you can not discount the damage created by Rtd. Major General Mugisha Muntu, a son of a prominent Ntungamo family dating back to previous regimes, and Rtd Lt.General Henry Tumukunde one of the finest spy masters this regime created.
While the two might not take away even a quarter of his votes in Western Uganda, they will divide his energy as he will be on his toes looking at correcting whatever damage the two are like to cause in what has traditionally been his fortress.
His forces will be spread thin in the West as he battles to retain the loyalty of the populous Ntungamo and Rukungiri district which has always presented him with his toughest challenges being the home to FDC founding President Kizza Besigye as well and two current opposition Members of Parliament.
Go to Eastern Uganda and President Museveni has a new headache there with a son of the soil in Hon. Patrick Oboi Amuriat from Teso sub region. With many grievances yet to be handled comprehensively, key among them being compensation for the herds of cattle they lost during the civil wars that ravaged this region, Teso just got more complicated for the incumbent.
With his sponsoring party the Forum for Democratic Change having a decent following further in the East that is Elgon sub region where the party’s Secretary General Hon. Nandala Mafabi comes from and having some presence in Busoga sub Region as well where former party big wigs in Paul Mwiru and Abdu Katuntu hail from, the Eastern region will be tough to crack.
Northern Uganda remains a half hearted one too. The presence of seasoned Leader of Opposition Hon. Betty Aol Ochan of FDC, Democratic Party President Norbert Mao and seasoned opposition Leader Hon. Cecilia Ogwal is also likely to cause some hindrances to the incumbent’s quest for another term. While Hon. Mao hasn’t put up a strong showing in his previous attempts at the presidency, this time round he can cause real damage to the incumbent by focusing his energies at home in the greater North.
The West Nile region also Uganda’s North Western corner has no presidential candidate hailing from there. However the president rushed there just before the campaigns begun to launch a newly established mega cereals processing factory plus a power generation station just to show how important this area is having become a trouble spot since the demise of the late Hon Col. Ibrahim Abiriga and the by elections that followed.
Enter Buganda Region
Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine has changed the political landscape of the 2021 elections’ so much that he has sent the incumbent and his entire state machinery into panic mode.
Reason number one is Buganda Region is the most populous and urbanised in the country and seems to have found a presidential candidate they can rally around for the first time ever. Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemwogerere’s 1996 presidential campaign faltered because the population in central Buganda was still hesitant to challenge the status quo after years of bloodshed in the 1980s.
Dr.Kizza Besigye, who has been President Museveni’s main rival in the previous 4 elections, almost crystallised the Buganda vote, but there were always doubts lingering around him having previously worked with President Museveni and hailing from the same region.
The sentiments on ground have also worked in favour of Robert Kyagulanyi as key economic indicators get worse by the day partly caused by the effects of Covid 19 on the urban poor in greater Buganda.
With the number of youths surging and unemployment growing to unbearable levels, the youthful population especially in urban Buganda and all other parts of the country seem to have lost hope in a once popular Museveni whose rhetoric over the years hasn’t gotten them much leaving them with Kyagulanyi as the option they assume may change their fortunes.
This shift in the election dynamics many optimists hope can deliver change but that remains a little too optimistic.
However if the opposition candidates can turn the 2021 election into a regional block vote with Amuriat focusing on the East, Kyagulanyi in greater central, the two Generals Muntu and Tumukunde divide up the Western vote and Mao consolidates the Northern vote, at least a re run is achievable as President Museveni can be limited to a less than 50+1% of the total votes forcing a rerun with the runner up which can go either way!
The Author is a senior analyst and media strategist at consulting firm Brothers Intelligence LLC
Email: [email protected]