By Belguin Prosper Lumu
The first mistake NRM made in all its history was to underestimate its competition starting with Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu (Bobi Wine).
In my opinion, Besigye was quite manageable for NRM over the years of his resistance, because he had an NRM DNA within him. So, NRM could somewhat predict his actions.
However, for Bobi Wine, a Rasta, it all started as a joke but now turns out that he is a well-seasoned politician able to lead a team from the grassroots to strategic positions within the government, within a very short time. This is not something to underestimate.
It was a very big mistake by NRM when it failed to detect the potential of Bobi Wine ahead of time. This showed a deeply immense weakness that has been growing within NRM. That weakness is the lack of strategic thinkers.
A while ago, I published an opinion “NRM needs strategic youths not just passionate fellows.” This opinion was based on the fact that NRM’s current structure is short of strategic thinkers, save for a few, who are now diverted by other pressures.
With the continuous lack of strategic thinkers among NRM youths and cadres, the current opposition wave is too carefully complex to be predicted by NRM’s current generation.
The current opposition has mastered the art of diversionary politics and, as 2026 comes close, it will manifest.
The opposition has also mastered the art of keeping the government “off balance” and then lead government into taking action in panic thereby causing government several instances of PR crisis.
From the look of things, the opposition has started taking the government “process-by-process” at all levels starting from grassroots, to security and now at institutional level. The opposition is growing like a slow cancer killing NRM that can only be detected at advanced stage, thereby panicking with chemotherapy which will further just cause internal organ breakdown.
As a market intelligence & strategy expert, the competitors I consider “lethal” are not those that think outside the box, but those that create the box.
For a long time, NRM was able to control the narrative by forcing the opposition to think outside the box and all efforts of the opposition were in vain.
Wth the emergence of Bobi Wine (and now re-emergence of Besigye), opposition has learned the art of creating the box, while NRM is forced to now think outside the box. This is an observation that can only be noticed by a few, especially those that are not in a state of denial politically.
Let’s break this down together
As we break this down, I need you to first note down these words; “Rub-a-dub style” and “People’s front”.
The coming of Bobi Wine and Pulling out of Besigye
In strategy, it is crucial to keep people off balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your actions. This is because if they have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defense. \
So, all you have to do is to guide them far enough down the wrong path, envelop them in enough smoke, and by the time they realize your intentions, it will be too late.
This was a well-orchestrated move, a move that I believe Besigye was well aware of.
It was not a mistake that Besigye met Bobi Wine on at least one occasion and it was not a mistake that Besigye did not involve in direct active campaigns for Patrick Oboi Amuriat.
In a political struggle, every detail matters and every small linkage leads to something.
Bobi came as a pressure group, all he needed was a cause to propel him into direct and active politics, and indeed as usual, NRM being behind the strategic complex event analysis of happenings, it was misled by its own architects down the wrong path while opposition watched.
NRM enacted a dubious tax – the social media tax or OTT Tax. Bobi Wine then used this law to actually propel himself to international platforms and due to the international publicity this scenario created, security was further misled into panicking while handling the arrest of Bobi Wine.
Opposition knew that this tax was going to be its stepping stone and the actual person to lead the camp against it had to be Bobi Wine. NRM could not see this.
NRM focused on the tax, but ignored the possibility of their competitors using it against them. Their level of strategic analysis of possible crisis was too shallow. Opposition took lead.
Now, eventually as we speak, the tax was dropped but it fortified Bobi Wine while NRM was viewed as a human rights violator. This was the first blow that NRM architects failed to forsee. They had the option to handle the matter as swiftly as possible before it made Bobi Wine more unmanageable. NRM architects are even too blind to see that soon as Bobi Wine, rose to power, the subject changed from the tax law to something different.
Opposition was able to conceal their intentions and they concealed them too well. NRM thought the issues was the tax, so they focused on seeing the tax through while opposition focused on using the events around the tax to form a new politician icon.
After that episode was finished, Bobi Wine was able to concentrate his forces and conserved his forces and energies by concentrating them at their strongest point.
That is when, moments later, Bobi Wine enters the political scene. He announces his intention to go for the parliamentary seat and NRM architects handle his issue lightly (again) thinking that no right-thinking citizen could vote for him.
The shocker comes…. Bobi Wine goes through, he even campaigns for others and they go through. Bobi Wine played a smart role. He made the government feel smart and not just smart, but smarter than he was.
The government was convinced of this and they never suspected he had ulterior motives yet he was only using his base to concentrate his forces while NRM thought everything was under control.
Having become an MP, Bobi Wine mastered the art of creating a “cult-like following”.
In strategy naturally, people have an overwhelming desire to believe in something. Bobi Wine decided to become the focal point of such desire by offering the masses a cause in the first place (which was OTT tax), he then became MP and gave them a new faith to follow (People power, Our power).
To build “People Power, our power”, Bobi kept his words vague but full of promise. He emphasized enthusiasm over rationality and clear thinking. He gave people rituals to perform (wearing red attire and signature caps) and they automatically found themselves banding together on his behalf (viral international protests and demonstrations).
In the absence of an organized or known structure (of Bobi) to government, his new belief system brought him more and more power and international recognition, and this made him a hard man to crack day by day.
As if that was not enough, Bobi Wine had to accept the fact that for him to be where he wants to be, he had to forge a new identity. Which he did successfully…. Transforming from a known “ganja-man” to a father, then to a community transformer (helping police to educate youth about dangers of weed), then to a charity man, then to an activist (OTT tax), then to a member of parliament (People Power, our power) and now President (Umbrella wave). All this happened under the watch of NRM architects.
By the time Bobi Wine made a decision to enter politics, he had (or had been given) a plan and sure a structure in place. Being naturally intelligent, he learnt from the mistakes of his predecessors like Besigye that, with a visible plan and structure, government can infiltrate and crack you. So, his only visible tool was boldness. Everyone admires the bold. No one respects the timid.
The boldness of Bobi Wine was backed up with a plan and structure (crafted by well strategic minds). The problem is that he kept his plan and structure invisible to the government until he decided to reveal it. By the time he revealed it, he was already on the presidential ballot paper against all odds.
Having been on the ballot paper and not declared the winner, Bobi Wine guaranteed that NRM would not make it to 2026 and would see Museveni out in six months. Remember that all along, Besigye is silently watching and supporting from the sides. All these Bobi Wine episodes happened while Besigye was in hibernation. He intentionally let Bobi Wine take the lead.
Now, the pulling out of Bobi Wine and the re-emergence of Besigye
For a man (Bobi Wine) that promised to oust Museveni in six months after 2021 elections and that NRM would not make it to 2026, he is busy in wedding ceremonies (hibernation and less in media).
Does this mean he has been compromised or that he now feels comfortable?
The answer is absolutely NO.
It is during these very times of wedding ceremonies that Besigye has now emerged. He has emerged with a new pressure group People’s Front for Transition (PFT).
It is as though these two are taking turns.
Once again, they are starting to keep the government “off balance” with unpredictability. And it is working well because even government representatives on shows like Barometer and Frontline, are putting the focus on how the emergence of PFT is helping them to disorganize opposition.
This kind of reasoning shows that whatever plan Besigye and Bobi Wine came up with, government architects are yet to fully detect and decode it.
While government officials believe that for opposition to beat NRM, they should join than forming more pressure groups, Besigye and Bobi Wine believe that assuming formlessness is the way to go.
Could this be the “rub-a-dub” style that Bobi talked about a while ago, knowing that him and Besigye would play government in turns? They have refused to be defined by the common roles society foists on them as opposition leaders.
They are forging a new identity of political aggressiveness, which I believe is aimed at keeping government “off balance” and secondly confusing double agents within the opposition camps.
So, for NRM’s Honorable Haruna Kasolo to say on national TV (NBS) and say that NRM is comfortable since PFT seems to be fighting with NUP, is a shallow analysis.
For him to further suggest that for opposition to beat NRM, NUP and PFT should merge, and he expects Besigye and Bobi Wine to follow that advise, is a sign that he needs more strategy lessons.
Besigye and Bobi realise that NRM is currently “off balance” with the sudden emergence of PFT yet NUP is far from dead merging makes them an easier target to infiltrate.
For purposes of political intelligence and strategy, NRM now has a big challenge of having to collect, assess and dissect intelligence from both highly discreet factions. It is called “keeping the government busy” while something else is moving under the table.
So, people like Honorable Haruna Kasolo should not be too comfortable, otherwise, the lack of strategic thinkers in NRM is the reason why many events were missed back then and took NRM by surprise.
I am made to believe that PFT and NUP are one and not the final piece of the puzzle. Both are means to an end of something bigger that not even NRM can predict unless their cadres become strategic than reactionary.
It is important to note that during the time Bobi Wine was at the top politically, Besigye was in hibernation. Now that elections are done, Bobi Wine seems to be in hibernation, while Besigye comes back. Next could be that Besigye will go back in hibernation and Bobi Wine comes back again with something new, or both will raise a storm jointly and unexpectedly. Or, there could even be a third player to come along the way.
These moves are not by mistake.
In politics, timing, strategy and resilience are everything. This emergence of new scenes is coming at a time when NRM is decrying infiltrated intelligence with wrong elements making it incompetent. This is so true if Bobi Wine was even able to transfer a party to himself undetected. As NRM is busy trying to downplay these new events, they should know that no one comes to the front without planning all the way to the end.
Besigye and Bobi Wine are only showing the government what they want it to see and believe.
In any plan, the end is everything.
Bobi Wine and Besigye have planned all the way to the end, taking into account all the possible consequences, obstacles, and twist of fortune that might reverse their new strategy.
Bobi Wine and Besigye have also planned their way to the end so that they do not even get overwhelmed by circumstances and they know when one of them will need to stop if he ever needs to.
Each of them has learned to control their options. They are to put options for the government on table to choose between the lesser of two evils both of which serve their purpose. The government is gored wherever it turns.
There is more to this new strategy than what meets the eye and if NRM architects and cadres are still underestimating this, then I encourage them to think about what Bobi Wine meant when he said that that “this is not politics as usual” and what he meant when he said “we shall take this government rub-a-dub style.” After taking the government in a rub-dub-style, then the people’s front will kick in.
To understand what the term “people’s front for transition” means, just imagine what happened in Northern Sudan where the President was taken out and not even the army could do anything. So, Besigye and Bobi Wine, have chosen these words carefully. It will be an error to underestimate a single thing.
To dissect the depth of the new opposition strategies that are currently visible and those that are yet to be visible if they ever be, NRM needs to have strategic thinkers and not just passionate fellows.
Otherwise, from the look of things, Opposition seems to be no longer thinking outside the box, but creating the box so that NRM is engulfed in the box and kept busy trying to think outside that box while opposition pursues a different agenda.
May NRM use this analysis as it finds fit.
The author is Belguin Prosper Lumu, a market intelligence & strategy expert and the CEO of Young & Free International Limited.
Follow him on twitter; @belguinprosper