As Bobi Wine rises to challenge Museveni, what will happen to Uganda?

As Bobi Wine rises to challenge Museveni, what will happen to Uganda? – Liberal Article 

It has been over 34 years since Museveni became president of Uganda. When he overthrew Idi Amin in 1986, Uganda and much of the west welcomed a new leader who promised peace and democracy. Although Uganda has had peace, it certainly has not had democracy. Museveni rules as a dictator with corruption increasing by the day. Most people will remember the fight that broke out in Ugandan parliament when Museveni increased the age limit of the president to suit him. 

Now, we see a new potential president rise to challenge Museveni; Bobi Wine. The musician turned politician, known for wearing his famous red beret, is certainly gaining momentum. The red beret has been banned in parliament and Bobi Wine’s parliamentary office has been raided. He, like Museveni before him, offers a bright new future of peace and democracy.

So does Bobi Wine actually have a chance of gaining power? Unfortunately, it seems very unlikely. Museveni has an extremely tight grasp of Uganda. Despite Bobi Wine’s addictively charismatic persona and fearsome image with his red beret, I don’t think he has the support of backward and traditional countryside communities.

We have already seen Museveni use his political control by using tear gas on NUP nominations and on any sort of protesters. He controls the electoral commission, the police, parliament, and most importantly the army. Wine would need an army himself to overthrow Museveni and take the capital, Kampala.

Again, revolution to most outsiders seems unlikely. Kampala is a strange city, which is more like a connection of different towns. To be able to have an organised campaign would be difficult. And again, Museveni is popular in a lot of different Kampala burrows.

Bobi Wine as well has a divided opposition. He cannot pull together enough support to take on Museveni and has nowhere near as much support as Kizza Besigye did in 2006. Despite Besigye winning the election supposedly, Museveni’s control showed again as he managed to easily hold on to power through ballot stuffing, cutting off wifi, and other means.

Together with all this, there is a curfew at the moment.

There is hope, and it comes from two strange places. The first is COVID-19. The Ugandan economy is on its knees. People may actually be looking for change now more so than ever. Ugandans across the board might be looking for a change.

Secondly and possibly the most bizarre aspect of this election, and without a doubt the most important one… Boda’s!

Boda’s are effectively bike riders offering lifts. The closest example I can give is a Tuk-Tuk however a Boda is literally a man on a bike and you have to hang on for dear life! Great fun, but also running through a red light on a t-junction on the back of one was a very scary moment I won’t lie.

All Boda’s are out of work at the moment with Museveni’s travel ban and because of COVID. If you have been to Uganda they are everywhere, in fact, most African countries have them. There are a predicted 30,000 Boda’s and 15,000 taxi drivers in just Kampala’s metro area.

They also can act as local law enforcement. It is not uncommon for Boda’s to chase down robbers and murders in a pack and well… I won’t go into details.

Boda’s are weirdly semi-unionised, kind of brutal, very active and know people in high places. It is not uncommon for visitors of Uganda to have their personal boda on call who you trust because they are safe drivers. It is, of course, one of the only ways to travel around Uganda.

I said Wine needs an army, and effectively, here it is. They are incredibly angry with Museveni at the moment. I would say riots and protests post-election next year will definitely happen. Who will be leading them? Wine and the Boda’s.

Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Max Anderson

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Point of Information

Are the Winds Changing, or Is a Storm Brewing? – A Conservative Response

I am both optimistic and worried about Uganda. I am a massive advocate for democracy and the freedoms that are a de facto extension of this system. A change of leadership is far from a democratic guarantee, though.

My worry comes from what is in the offing: conflict. I am no expert on Ugandan matters, but from what I can tell, there could be an archetypal ‘power vs. people’ battle shaping up. I am no fan of revolutions; they so often become auto-cannibalistic monsters that poison a society for generations.

Why do I think that it is becoming more likely than ever before? Principally, COVID. It has created an atmosphere of confinement and economic hardship. More and more people are becoming those who simply have nothing to lose; when you have nothing to lose, radical options lose their risk-factor.

Furthermore, as Max notes, there is undoubtedly great support behind Bobi Wine and great frustration with the ageing President Yoweri Museveni. Phones also massively add to this melée, with information being captured & shared by anyone. No longer does the President have a monopoly on news.

Another thing to mention: the Ugandan age structure. Uganda has a very young populace, which is another feather in the cap of Bobi Wine. Even if he does not succeed now, his case will only strengthen.

I cannot see Bobi Wine being victorious in his pursuit just yet. The incumbent President is no stranger to using violence to achieve political ends. I feel that this monopoly of force may fix him in place for the foreseeable.

Mr. Wine may just be the start of changing Ugandan winds, however. We shall see.

Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Alexander Dennis

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Change is urgently needed, will Bobi Wine bring this? – A Labour Response

Museveni was once a welcome change from previous regimes that were characterised by human rights abuses, political repression, and corruption. Now, he has joined the list of world leaders who have clung onto power for too long.

Currently, in his fifth presidential term, Museveni has had only one consistent opposition, Kizza Besigye. Since 2001, the start of his second term, his regime has been accused of electoral fraud. For example, the 2001 election results showed 12.5 million voters. This is 2 million more voters than were registered in Uganda overall.

In 1986, Museveni’s government was committed to the restoration of human rights in Uganda and the prosecution of violators. The former has continued to deteriorate, and the latter is yet to occur.

Instead, there is deliberate persecution of and violence against many. Opposition leaders such as Bobi Wine or Kizza Besigye have been arrested on false charges, voters have been harassed and intimidated, and protestors attacked.

Likewise, academics such as Stella Nyanzi have been found guilty of cyber harassment for criticising Museveni’s regime. Also, the LGBTQ+ community is under serious threat with attempts to criminalise homosexuality with the punishment of death and the murder of activists protesting this.

At this point, one might say any alternative is better and Bobi Wine is a very attractive option. I just hope that change comes sooner rather than later for the sake of the Ugandan population.

Written by Junior Labour Writer, Zoë Olsen-Groome

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Max Anderson
Publisher/ Founder at | Website

I am currently in my second year of reading Politics at the University of Exeter. My first interaction with politics was at the tender age of four years old.

Alexander Dennis
Political writer | Website

Hello, I’m Alexander Dennis, and I am going into my third undergraduate year at the University of Exeter. I study Politics & International Relations, with a possible year abroad hanging in the balance. My particular interest in politics really started in early 2016: yes, it was ‘Brexit’. I was at once intrigued, and confused, by something so critical. From that baptism, I have become somewhat addicted to political discussion, intrigued by issues ranging from drugs policy to taxation. So I followed my nose: I applied for a degree in the subject.

Zoë Olsen-Groome
Junior Labour Writer | Website

I have just graduated with a History degree from the University of Exeter and am about to start my Masters there in Conflict, Security, and Development. I will also be taking on the roles of Welfare Officer in the Politics Society and Vice-President for Coppafeel’s Exeter Uni Boob Team.

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