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New Districts: Balkanizing Uganda for Polling Purposes


New Districts: Balkanizing Uganda for Polling Purposes

NUP President Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (left) and Matovu Joy in the middle

A local publication Ono Bwino, recently published an enticing picture on its front page. It is an artistic creation of President Yoweri Museveni and Kyadondo East Member of Parliament (MP)/Musician, Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a., Bobi Wine, on either side, pulling asunder Uganda, cartographically represented as a crying child.  The two are represented as gigantic musclemen against a helpless kid.

This is an appropriate appraisal of the current political situation, going to the 2021 general elections. Without doubt, Bobi Wine has impacted the political scene, surpassing the other opposition contestants. That obviously leaves Museveni, as the other itinerant political energy.  As is the case, campaign hackles have to be raised so as to attract the majority votes – if ever the election were to be free, fair and credible.

To that end, Parliament has again approved the National Resistance Movement (NRM) creation of 46 new districts/constituencies. Along those lines, the balkanization of Uganda’s administrative units has always been at the behest of the NRM to shore up its flagging political fortunes by these divisions that favour their presumptive candidates.

To illustrate the point: an old schoolboy friend recently telephoned me to say that he was now going to put up his name as a candidate for the recently-created elders’ Parliamentary interest group along the lines of the; Army, Women, Workers, Disabled and Youth MPs.

I told him that it would be a tall order for him to stand against some financially-political heavyweights who were likely to contest the one seat for the Eastern Region.  I did not expect him to have the money; or be able to harness the funds necessary to “bribe” the voters. (Uganda politics has been very heavily commercialized to the extent that the issue of electoral eligibility is inextricably connected to money!)

It was the time when the Bill extending the seats in Parliament was in the House. In no time the extension was passed and my friend’s Katakwi District was further divided to create a new constituency of Ngariam. Again, my old friend rang me to say that he had changed his mind that he was now going to contest the seat on the NRM ticket.

To put this in context for my friend: his grandfather was a Colonial chief with numerous wives. His father was equally prosperous; and if one was to count his relatives according to the clan tentacles in the new district/constituency, it would amount to that his clan is the most populous segment of the voters in the Ngariam.

According to the Minister of Local Government, Raphael Magyezi, the constituencies are created taking into account a population count of 150,000 people.  When we counted the proliferation of “his people” in the new Ngariam District/Constituency, we arrived at no less than 120,000 clan/relatives. It would be thus desirable that my friend stand in the constituency, rather than face the whole eastern Region to select an elder to represent the interest group. And this will be to the advantage of NRM.

On the other hand, Bobi Wine has garnered support among the youth, who are the majority of the population which figures range from 63% to 78% of the population, depending how you are interested in the count. That being the case, it would be on interest to the NRM to muzzle Bobi Wine as much as possible.

In most cases, whenever Wine has been trying to hold political rallies, in whatever guise, the Police has always come in to thwart his efforts. The Government went to the extent of managing to block Bobi Wine registering his People Power movement as a political party; instead somebody bested him to it. The NRM has further tried to rally his music fraternity around the NRM, in an attempt to deny him the popular base – to this extent many of the musicians are now in “another rap” with the NRM.

However, Bobi Wine’s music tentacles have created a political following for him – rally, or no rally! Walk around any trading arcade, township; or listen to any radio or any TV, and you will no doubt come across Bobi Wine’s enchanting music. Looking at it this way, it would appear that the maverick politician does not need political rallies. In that case, the presence of Covid-19, maybe a silver lining for the National Unity Party (NUP).

And the conversion of People Power to NUP has been a major crowd-puller for Bobi Wine. It transpires that any machinations to deny him political space has actually worked in his favour. Suddenly, the act of Moses Nkong Kibalama, a former Uganda People’s Congress member, surrendering  the NUP umbrella to Bobi Wine, has caused waves for the NRM to consider that balkanization of the country’s administrative units will be a harbinger to stall the political and electoral ascendancy of Bobi Wine.




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Ikebesi Omoding is the acclaimed author of a weekly column titled: From the Outside Looking In

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