Bobi Wine, People Power, NUP and the Poisonous Ends of Politics
Robert Kyagulanyi a.k.a. Bobi Wine who entered parliament on a bye-election ticket in 2018 has been a gashing wind turned a violent storm that steamrolled the old opposition parties of DP, UPC, CP, Jeema, and belligerent Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) forcing the four time presidential contender Kizza Besigye off the road. NUP will now take the leader of opposition in parliament, and EALA slot from for the opposition, and most local governments in Buganda. After only one year, Kyagulanyi sought to be president of Uganda and tumbled although he continues to bang empty tins down the abandoned road.
There is evidently a disturbing sameness between Kyagulanyi and Besigye of old, seeking to exploit other people’s miseries like poverty and want for their poisonous ends. In political speak, Kyagulanyi now also calls President Museveni, ‘dictator’ and ‘corrupt’ which begs the question how toxic ideas and rogue language have found convergence allowing opportunists, demagogues, and potential fascists to gain entry and influence into mainstream politics
Sadly, Kyagulanyi has imbibed hook, sinker and liner Besigye’s unbridled militancy, conspiracy theories, demagoguery, foreign backing, well-woven falsehoods, lies, blackmail, threats, intimidation and potency for violence as tools for political machination to gain public acceptance. As such, he is now on a crescendo driving a false and absurd narrative that Uganda has been high jacked by dark forces, hoping that his fringe of violent followers can take Uganda backwards to change government through violent means including a civil war. There is wild talk by NUP supporters mainly urban malcontents that they want to experience war as if it is a tea-party, not knowing it could actually sweep them first, and fast. These believe that they can get their hands on freebies by playing vandals.
Exploiting economic hardships and unemployment especially among the youths, Kyagulangi and NUP has built networks of riff-raff vigilantes around the country mainly in urban and suburban centres to harass citizens with all sorts of malevolent tactics including physical assault, violent robbery, arson and destruction to property. If left to roam unchecked, these groups could even kill.
Kyagulanyi, initially taking advantage of his music pop stardom built a cult-like following into what the so-called ‘people power’ movement that has now morphed into a political party, the National Unity Platform (NUP), which while has a semblance of countrywide presence, in reality, the just concluded election showed it is a tribal sectarian outfit.
While running for president and other political offices is a legitimate right of any eligible citizen of Uganda, the framing of the People Power Movement, NUP, and Kyagulanyi as is today represent a clear, present and imminent that must be confronted now rather than later. This confrontation should take multiple dimensions and it isn’t the intention of this column today to elucidate on which dimension should be more prominent although sustained democratic engagement, firm and decisive enforcement of the laws should be of priority.
Kyagulanyi and NUP have now taken DP, UPC and FDC’s main strand of politics of taking to the use of television, radios and uncontrolled social media platforms to demonise those who disagree with them and to generally peddle toxic lies. Often, they know the truth, but can't dare tell it, lest they run out of ammunition. It's unfortunate that the fourth estate including mainstream media and prominent journalists that should be the custodians of truthful and objective information have simply become conduits and accomplices in sabotaging democratic national discourse. It is hurting that today truth is constantly getting killed by the media.
Like Besigye, NUP leaders tell their gullible worshippers that poverty, unemployment and corruption are creations of Museveni, and not widespread global problems including in wealthier and developed countries.
Kyagulanyi like many in Uganda rose from an obscure background is an evident positive story of Uganda under Yoweri Museveni but is shy to admit that a conducive environment of exists. The peace, stability, liberalised education and economy has enabled the churning out of graduates in their thousands into the job market each year yet attracting investments to generate the desired jobs is gradual.
The hyped claim that FDC and NUP are the people's popular choices has been thoroughly disproved by their performance in the just concluded election, and although failure to sell as national brands is evident, FDC and NUP leaders won’t publicly admit, hence them resorting to political slander and smear.
When reality strikes back as loud noise is not turned into votes, they cry about vote fraud and rigging but will never explain to the public as to why some MPs, LC5 chairpersons and thousands of councilors are returned unopposed on NRM tickets. The presidential election petition is now being used more for publicity stunt, soliciting public empathy and foreign funding than to seek legitimate justice.
Anyone who can see the potential dangers these groups pose to Uganda’s politics ought to take a stand so that resurgent fascists are defeated at their nascent stage, otherwise the overlap between legitimate politics and criminality could engulf the fabric of our public life.