Nomination of Candidates, NRM Yellow Bicycles, and Besigye’s wild Geese

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Author and journalist Phillip Colin’s book “When They Go Low, We Go High: Speeches that shape the world and why we need them,” is a line often quoted by many including Michelle Obama, and worth referencing to Col (Rtd) Dr Kizza Besigye’s recent falsehoods about the NRM yellow bicycles and motorcycles. Kizza Besigye could be suffering from a disease called Munchausen Syndrome. This disease is an attention-seeking personality disorder which is more common than statistics suggest. Munchausen Syndrome was named after a German soldier renowned for exaggerated tales.

Currently in semi-retirement mode Besigye keeps wishing against all wishes that the NRM could collapse but to his shock NRM is getting much better, richer and stronger to outlast his own folly desires. His utterances last week that the yellow bicycles and motorcycles that NRM bought and distributed to its local chairpersons, were acquired through the diversion of Covid-19 donations by President Yoweri Museveni is absurd and takes Besigye to new lows. 

Covid-19 funds are handled by the relevant government ministries, fully audited by the Auditor General and supervised by oversight institutions including parliament where Besigye’s party FDC is leading the opposition, and chairs all the accountability committees. It should be easy for him to establish the facts and truth instead of spreading hearsays.

It is very wild of Besigye to make such ludicrous allegations without providing any iota of evidence of impropriety on the NRM party president. But those who know Besigye much better find this type of political hyperbole not entirely surprising. Clearly, to any discerning mind, it is a behaviour of a man fast fading politically but hoping to exploit any occasion however ridiculous to attract attention.

It may be recalled that Besigye has in the past uttered similar accusations against NRM and President Museveni. In the 2001 election campaigns when Besigye faced heat, he alleged that President Museveni had sold Lake Victoria. Another massive lie was that Museveni had sold to foreigners all the land in Teso, Lango, Acholi, and West Nile. In 2010 he and Olara Otuunu accused Museveni of having sold Lake Kyoga. It is surprising that they continue to walk with heads up without embarrassment. As a former bush fighter Besigye knows that NRA/M had massive voluntary contributors. 

Even today the NRM party has sufficient and transparent means to mobilise resources to run its affairs and is not the first time it is facilitating its cadres. NRM doesn’t begrudge other political parties when they spend on their activities including when FDC a while back bought a multi-billion property for its headquarters in Najjanakumbi. How FDC and other parties raise resources including money is entirely their business as long as it is not from sources prohibited by the laws of Uganda. 

It is clear that having failed to dissuade Ugandans from participating in the ongoing electioneering processes under Covid-19, which he claimed was fake and couldn’t bring the desired change, Besigye is now seeking cheap accusations against President Museveni.

Reports from across Uganda indicate that the ongoing primaries in all the major political parties to select their candidates for sub-counties and district local councils, as well as Members of Parliament are being massively contested for and competition is very stiff. This massive turn up, especially by opposition parties FDC, UPC, DP, NUP and many independents suggest that majority of Ugandans are defying the earlier predictions by the dejected Besigye that elections in Uganda are a sham.

And it is almost contradictory that opposition groups that often claim that NRM has narrowed the democratic space should be so ethunthiastic and are fielding hundreds of candidates for a parliament of 528 members.  It should even be more curious that they are able to raise money and other logistics to support their campaign activities including funding candidates.

For the past two weeks there has been a massive turn up in all districts by aspirants seeking nomination as candidates for sub-county, town council, municipal, and district councilors and chairpersons. Every indication is that the trend will continue into nomination of parliamentary and presidential candidates.

To his shock, the massive turn up at all party primaries to select candidates, and the ongoing nominations for local councilors and parliament is giving him trepidation. Besigye cannot believe that his party FDC and others like UPC, DP, the nascent ANT and NUP are raising high numbers of candidates never witnessed when he was the big male donkey. Contrary to Besigye’s claims, the turn up demonstrates the confidence that majority of Ugandans have in the electoral process especially the ability of government and Electoral Commission to organize a free, fair and credible election.

For two decades now Besigye has been pushing the narrative that Uganda was a failed state asking his US and European backers to compel President Museveni to accommodate him into a national unity government. Another of his dreams has been that President Museveni concedes to a transitional government probably headed by one of Besigye’s protégés, and that is also evaporating with every passing day.