President Museveni has revealed a master plan that he intends to use to reclaim the Buganda vote that he and his ruling National Resistance Movement party lost in the just concluded polls.
Museveni’s performance in the January 14 polls is one that can be summed as being dismal as he and party bigwigs including the Vice President and many other cabinet ministers were trounced, never to come back.
According to the Electoral Commission results, the ruling NRM party received a paltry 35% in the central region occupied by Buganda, whereas National Unity Platform’s Robert Kyagulanyi got 62.01% .
This was a statement sent out to the ruling party and its chairman, Yoweri Museveni of something not moving the right way.
Consequently, as part of a post-mortem following the big loss, there have been several crisis meetings to discuss the way forward for the ruling party and many rotated around issues related to increased cases of land grabbing and lack of essential service delivery as those that need improvement.
However, over the weekend, while at Kyankwanzi, Museveni summoned a few MPs that filtered through the central region political floods to further discussion on how to reclaim the Buganda vote for the ruling party.
Speaker by speaker, the newly elected legislators expressed fear that the NRM is standing in quicksand when it comes to the political aspect of Buganda.
“The people of Buganda region have connived against us. They have been forgotten and that is why they are voting the way they did. The party was abandoned and the few of us here went through on individual merit,” one of the legislators lamented.
“We need to engage the youth who have been abandoned and that is where our major problem in Buganda came from,” another added.
No need to panic
However, Museveni allayed the fears, citing that the situation in Buganda is not new; hence there is no need to panic at all.
Museveni’s analysis was that the region had massive rigging with enough demobilisation from Mengo government and a “few priests”.
Indeed, a number of homilies from Catholic Church priests in Buganda region went to castigating the NRM with many of them dedicating their entire preaching to asking people not to vote Museveni or the NRM.
Whereas some of the victims of the “umbrella wave” including Agriculture Minister Vincent Ssempijja and other party officials blamed the big loss to influence from Mengo and the Catholic Church, Museveni too, shared the same sentiments during the meeting at Kyankwanzi to some of the newly elected MPs from Buganda.
“Some elements in Mengo gave themselves a bad name for nothing by making some statements on TV, even some priests, but the NRM (party) is now like a bird which you throw a stone at to kill it but it flies away, well aware of your intentions,” Museveni told the closed meeting.
“There is nothing big. Let us identify where performance was poor and we will deal with it.”
Address social-economic issues
Museveni told the NRM legislators from Buganda to look at a bigger picture aside the available excuses.
He said the people expressed their views and the party needs to identify how best to help so they can reclaim the votes that slipped away.
“Social-economic issues are why we lost. It’s good if people are not happy when they have no jobs. It means you will solve the problems and people be stabilized,” he said
“We were getting very low votes in the north. In 1996, we got 12% but now because of the infrastructural performance, the opposition lost,” he added.
According to him, the situation in Buganda is simpler since the issues of the youth are now known and once dealt with, their problems will cease.
Museveni proposed that the NRM to first leave the urban centres to take their natural course while the party concentrates on rural Buganda with an aim of uplifting the household incomes.
“Let us start with the rural areas. What we need is to go to parishes and deal with homesteads parish by parish so that they get involved in wealth creation.We need to continue the gospel of the four-acre model policy, tell our rural people that someone with less than five acres should not waste time planting maize. They should use the four acres to plant coffee for instance, an acre of fruits, an acre of pasture for animals and another acre for food. This would be sufficient as compared to planting maize,”Museveni said.
“Two seasons of maize will bring one approximately Shs800,000 for a family a year. How do you expect our people to survive on such? This is the reason they are not happy with us; we have failed to help them do serious calculative commercial farming,” he added.
Museveni gave legislators a task, to compile their homesteads and find out how many are doing commercial agriculture, what exactly they are doing and how the government will help them leverage.
Jobs for youth
According to Museveni, once the master plan of commercial agriculture is achieved, and most families are performing at a given level, it would mean that many jobs will be created, over and above the available number of youths.
“We are not producing at a given level, once we have commercial agriculture doing well in most homesteads, we shall have so many jobs created that we shall even look for more people and they won’t be there,” Museveni said.
Museveni maintains that if people are getting enough finances through agriculture, it would mean that the country would have enough taxable income to provide services to the lamenting regions.
“Now we have so many of your people doing nothing but demanding for drugs, they want hospitals, they want roads to transport gossip, they want so many things, but they are not earning at all and we are not taxing them. Let us solve the problem of homestead incomes in Buganda, then it would be up to them to work or not,” Museveni added.
The ruling NRM party chairman said he is not worried about the population. He said the population can be used to our benefit once the people take the gospel of wealth creation with a grain of salt.
“Countries like China and India are so populated but smaller than Africa. They are overproducing internally and also looking for an external market and this is how they are prosperous. I am not worried about the population, in fact, let us advise our people to produce more, but with the right message,” he said.
Whereas Museveni seems to have put in place a grand plan to reclaim the ruling NRM party’s lost glory especially in Buganda, he needs to find ways of dealing with other factors.
For example, many analysts blamed NRM’s loss to the radical manner in which government confronted the growing resentment among the youths.
Many supporters of Kyagulanyi’s National Unity Platform were arrested as government tried to respond to resentment and this saw many vote in anger against the ruling NRM party and its leaders.
The ruling NRM party leader will have to deal with these arbitrary arrests that mostly happened towards elections, large-scale corruption orchestrated mostly by government officials and those close to President Museveni.
The issue of land grabbing touches the nerves of many, especially in Buganda where it is rampant and it needs to be addressed.
This is done by big shots in government on several occasions using the State House name and using state apparatus like police and the army.
This has consequently brewed anger towards the ruling government, especially from the victims of the land grabbing who are left helpless.
Unless tackled, the ruling NRM party will continue losing massively in the central region.