An interesting national conversation has ensued over the recent Kyadondo East Constituency by-election. It has never before been witnessed after any other by-election. At the core, it has pitted President Yoweri Museveni against the elected Member of Parliament, Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a Bobi Wine.
The first victim has been the messenger: the media. Museveni has lambasted the press for giving Kyagulanyi a favourable coverage over the campaign of his National Resistance Movement (NRM). Given the situation, this is probably to be expected, but then, the press was not in the electoral contest.
Other issues have concerned ideological classification. In the last 30 years the argument has always been about the “bankrupt former regimes”. In this case, perceived NRM successes have been in immunization and the Universal Primary Education (UPE), which have fostered a mushrooming youth population. In the country this has risen to 78%, overall.
The interesting upshot to this is that in Kyadondo East, the electors that put Bobi Wine to Parliament were also 78%. It is inescapable to assume that this reflects the national mood!
This is probably what unsettles Museveni. His counter argument is that in the last seven by-elections, the NRM has won five of them; so there should be no big deal about the loss of this one, but the statistic is telling! Also, the manner in which those five wins have been achieved begs electoral democracy.
The socio-economic statistics also reflect the lack of, not just the national, but also the individual satisfaction, that this group has got. And that has brought about a favourable comparison for the former “bankrupt” regimes against the NRM. There is the inevitable blame against the NRM functionaries and their affiliates about this inadequacy. What is more, there seems to be no end in sight in sorting out the problems.
Nevertheless, contrary to the logic and circumstance of the by-election, the NRM has gone shouting around that the Wine win was actually the result of its input. This is what irritates Wine; and he has gone to interesting lengths to distance himself from these claims – including penning a social media repartee and giving an interview in the global BBC.
This is not certainly music to Museveni’s ears and eyes. History and conventional political practice indicates that he gets uncomfortable about such challenges. It is characteristic that he has taken brutal swipes against close aides who have had the impudence to go against the grain.
Such has befallen the likes of the departed: Eria Kategaya, James Wapakhabulo and Maumbe Mukhwana. It has been experienced by the likes of Gilbert Bukenya, Amama Mbabazi and Abraham Byandala. And lately, the fate that has befallen his former business front-man, Sudhir Ruperalia, is quite instructive.
As a political upstart, Wine, has a fascinating route to Parliament. He has not hidden the fact that he is/was from the ghetto, and what it is known for. Yet in his musical lyrics, Wine has enunciated the ills of society; and sometimes posed solutions to them. Moreover, he has sung that if the leadership does not go to the ghetto, the reverse is true. Indeed, the ghetto has not only gone to Parliament, but to the Presidency.