Throughout the recent election period in Uganda, Africa, and the world at large, watched as the incumbent president employed violence and fear to maintain his power, his totalitarian tactics resulting in needless deaths of innocent citizens who threw their support behind the opposition leader, Bobi Wine. From Museveni’s many dalliances with brutality, to Bobi Wine’s youth-endorsed run, writer and activist, Safina S. B. Nakayiza takes us through the history of this historical presidential clash.
Uganda has never had a peaceful transfer of power since attaining her independence from the British in 1962. Presidents have always come and gone with the help of the gun, and that’s exactly how sitting President Yoweri Museveni came into power in 1986 after he picked up arms and mobilised a guerrilla army to seize power, killing over five hundred thousand people in the process. What prompted Museveni to take this route was a “rigged” election in which he had come last. Since then, he’s clung onto Uganda, committing gross human rights violations and impoverishing Ugandans while the world has watched. Museveni has always hidden behind the curtain of democracy through organising “free and fair” elections, appealing to his donors and the international community at large. Always, except this time.
In 2017 Kyagulanyi Sentamu Robert also known by his stage name, Bobi Wine came on the political scene, backed by strong support from youth in the ghetto, to contest for member of parliament for his constituency, Kyadondo East, a position he won by a landslide, marking the beginning of his political journey. Museveni almost instantly saw something in him. As early as 2018 he allegedly ordered for the assassination of Bobi Wine, an attempt that claimed the life of Bobi Wine’s friend and driver – Yasin Kawuma. The unfortunate events of that day, August 13th only made Bobi Wine more vocal in his criticism of the regime and gained him more support from Ugandans. He urged Ugandans to massively register for the national ID which was a necessity for one to register to vote and the population heeded his call. Next Wine urged Ugandans to register to vote when voter registration began, which they did, then urged them to apply for political positions in his newly formed political party – National Unity Platform.
Fast forward to this year’s election season; many regime apologists were adamant that Bobi Wine wouldn’t be on the ballot paper and he was about to prove them wrong. The Ugandan constitution permits Presidential enthusiasts to consult with the electorate about their candidacy, but Bobi Wine was denied this chance by the regime through the security forces. Everywhere Bobi Wine went, police followed; but fortunately, so did freelance journalists, who streamed live on both Facebook and YouTube, exposing the police brutality in real time.
Still, that did not deter Bobi Wine, who, in the end, emerged a legitimate presidential candidate, under the symbol of the umbrella: The National Unity Party. His journey, however, was one that turned Uganda red with the blood of innocent citizens who simply showed their allegiance with the true and just democratic change Bobi Wine’s presidency promised. On his campaign trail, journalists were brutalised, people murdered and others arrested by the regime. Several citizens, who were part of the candidate’s entourage, as well as bystanders were amongst those killed by the security forces – brutal violence that was all captured on camera. This did not stop Ugandans from embracing what Bobi Wine preached. In the face of the ongoing injustices, the people only amplified their support of the new candidate and this resulted in more murders and abductions of Bobi Wine supporters, even at village level.
Results from both Apac &Ntungamo districts are duplicates of the results from Abim district on the EC website! Check what I’ve been told on trying to access the two. @klup @JoelSsenyonyi @HEBobiwine #ByabakamaIsAFraud #WeAreRemovingADictator #FreeAllPoliticalPrisoners pic.twitter.com/L6prn9qxwZ
— M7 Talina Mpapula. (@kaysafi1) January 28, 2021
The dictator is naked. Throughout his presidential run, Bobi Wine has been exposing Museveni for the authoritarian he truly is, especially to the President’s donors and the international community, on whose money he relies to subjugate the Ugandan people through purchasing arms, flaunting them and militarising all institutions. On November 18th 2020 over a hundred citizens were allegedly murdered –although the mainstream media reported only sixty – and several injured across the country during the Free Bobi Wine protests, violence perpetrated by the regime. According to several observers this general election has been the most violent in the history of this country in which we saw an internet blackout last that lasted five days, a deliberate and transparent attempt to mask the assault that was being meted out on the citizens. Even still, Ugandans, especially the youths who make up about 85% of the population, went out to cast their votes in favour of Bobi Wine.
As expected, Museveni rigged the elections, but this time he wasn’t going to get off the hook easily and Bobi Wine and his team made sure of it. An app was launched where citizens could send evidence of electoral fraud, violence and results from individual polling stations. This wasn’t anticipated by the dictator, nor his henchmen, who have, to date, failed to provide granular data for the results from which they declared Museveni the winner of Uganda’s 2021 elections, stealing the victory of the Ugandan people. The constitution is clear, this data should be displayed after 48 hours by the electoral commission and yet, over a week later, the incumbent party still have not provided the requisite evidence.
Now more than we have ever been before, the people of Uganda are vigilant, firm in our resolve to keep the dictator president on his toes. The internet remains awfully slow and restricted but VPNs are used to bypass these roadblocks. The vigilance of the youths is making it extremely hard for Museveni to plaster fake or doctored results in the media, weakening his regime as time goes.
The intimidation is palpable, but the people remain unmoved because they know we voted the dictator out and there’s proof this time, proof we participated in collecting ourselves. Further indication of Museveni’s severe loss, is the over thirty ministers from his camp that have been voted out – alongside himself – by the people. Only roughly seven heads of state have congratulated the dictator upon his “re-election” some of whom he even had to call first. The world has rejected President Yoweri Museveni as have the Ugandan people. Bobi Wine, reemerging after his eleven day house-arrest earlier this week, maintained that all legal and constitutional means will be exploited to put an end to the Museveni dictatorship. We urge the rest of the world to stand with us to fight the dictator, to fight for our freedom.
Featured Image Credits: NPR
Safina S. B. Nakayiza is a chaotic feminist, passionate about preserving human rights. Tweet at her with activist energy only @kaysafi1