MBALE – In biology, moulting also known as sloughing, shedding, or in many invertebrates, ecdysis, is the manner in which animals routinely cast off a part of its body (often, but not always, an outer layer or covering), either at specific times of the year, or at specific points in its life cycle.
Ecdysis or moulting can involve shedding the epidermis (skin), pelage (hair, feathers, fur, wool), or other external layer. In some groups, other body parts may be shed, for example, wings in some insects or the entire exoskeleton in arthropods.
The 2021 general election was a wake-up call to all of us that in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies. The behavior of voters especially in places that were predominantly NRM shocked many and required going back to the drawing board.
To voters, there is nothing like loyalty to a particular person or entity for life. The voters change with the dynamics of the day and can even cling on religious, tribal, waves of change, regional, prevailing social-economic and political conditions to switch their loyalty to another.
Previous Presidential elections in a mirror:
After the promulgation of the 1995 constitution, a lot of water went under the bridge unnoticed for reasons that Ugandans had become so comfortable under the leadership of Yoweri Museveni Kaguta. The international community on the other hand was silently pushing government to lift the ban on political parties. In the year 1995, a referendum was conducted resulting into the awakening of poetical parties that were now crippled and on a drip.
The first general elections under the multiparty dispensation were held in Uganda on 23 February 2006. They were the first multi-party elections since President Yoweri Museveni and his NRA took over power in 1986. In that election, the main contenders were Yoweri Museveni who got 59.26% of the total votes cast followed by Kizza Besigye with 37.39%. The 2006 victory gave Museveni his first term as President of Uganda atleast up to 2011.
In the 2011 Presidential election, the main contenders were again Museveni on the NRM ticket and Dr. Kizza Besigye on the FDC ticket. Museveni easily won with a 68,38% followed by Dr Kizza Besigye with 26% of the vote. So many factors favoured Museveni against his former bush war comrade Kizza Besigye as can be seen in the improved percentage.
The 2016 general election was yet another dramatic and interesting election involving former super Minister Amama Mbabazi, Kizza Besigye and Museveni among others. According to the Electoral Commission, Museveni was re-elected and declared winner with 60.62% of the vote while Dr. Kizza Besigye obtained 35.61%. The European Union, Commonwealth of Nations and United States came out openly to criticize the election as having lacked transparency and was characterized by detentions of opposition candidates.
In the 2021 Presidential and Parliamentary elections, Museveni secured 5.85 million votes, or 58.64%, of the total votes cast, while main opposition candidate Bobi Wine won 3.48 million votes or 34.83% of the total votes cast. The election left so many dents in the country with many being arrested, property destroyed, others tortured while others died immediately before the election, during the election and even after the exercise.
What is important to note is that right from 2006 when the first general election was held to 2011, 2016 and 2021, there has been a petition filed in court and either won by Museveni or withdrawn. Was this action year after year an indictment on Museveni or the electoral commission? Can we blame these endless petitions on failure of Ugandans to accept defeat? Is running to court a habit of Ugandans or is it a norm that our elections will never be free and fair?
A case for the future:
I am one of those who believe that NRM cannot rely on the results of 2006-2021 to forecast their future as being bright. Indeed the demographics have changed substantially and the 2021 election took a very bad and unprecedented trend- regional politics. The northern and western regions overwhelmingly voted yellow, central and eastern regions became redbut this could have been influenced by the disgruntled younger population.
The choice of leaders to implement project ‘securing your future’ must be selected carefully. For some of us whose ears and eyes are on the ground, Museveni needs to tread carefully lest he is misunderstood. Already, the fall of Kadaga which happened through a democratic process has been misunderstood as a punishment to Busoga and easterners for having voted the opposition.
The coming of Anita Among- another easterner has been received with mixed feelings with many thinking Teso which already had a lion’s share of ministers and top government officials is being appreciated for voting yellow. Left with no option, Kadaga needs to be encouraged to tone down her pride by settling for less- vice Presidency, and yet the second most important position in the hierarchy of Uganda’s leadership. Besides, she has accumulated a lot of knowledge as a legislator since 1989 and as a speaker. She needs to remain relevant and active.
Many have advised Kadaga to quit her CEC position and even resign her Kamuli MP seat to show dis-satisfaction with the way she was treated by the NRM but who cares, there should be life after a fall. I personally don’t think it is too late;despite her outburst, Kadaga can eat a humble pie and remain relevant in the history of Uganda by accepting the VP job. At 65, Kadaga is too young and given the work load she has been carrying on her back and head, it is time for her to have a break and regenerate, it is too early to retire to rot in Kamuli.
In an effort to cleanse its image internally on the international scene and with Museveni’s statement after the Speakership elections that he is done with politics of exclusion and ego-centrism, Ugandans should brace themselves for optimism and pessimism depending on their political affiliation and how open minded they are. Optimists generally feel there is a ray of hope in the 6th term while pessimists have already concluded that Uganda is to see the worst come 2021-2026. Optimists or the religious always go into new situations with high hopes and expectations, while pessimistswho know Museveni for making endless promises keep low expectations to prepare for negative outcomes.
This time Museveni will carry a big fishing rod to harvest small and big fish from the opposition pond and any other entity where he sees talented and potential individuals. The likes of Nandala Mafabi, Nobert Mao, Amama Mbabazi, Cecilia Ogwal, Asuman Basalirwa, Sheik Ndirangwa, Peter Mayiga or even Kyagulanyi may not survive being caught by Museveni’s 2021-2026 fishing rod. The NRM needs to have a new outlook; it must undergo moulting and Ecdysis to appear new in the eyes of Ugandans and beyond if it must survive the current turbulence.
Many of Museveni’s former Ministers from Buganda will bounce back to take up roles in the party and in government. The likes of Lumumba may return to government as Ministers and the NRM secretariat reorganized with a new set of leaders. Many soldiers are going to take center stage in manning of many government institutions where corruption has taken root.
The long term plan is to use Parliament in future to vote the President and not to rely on voters whose demands are constant even when there is no financial muscle to back up their expectations. Like he said, it is going to be an all inclusive government leaving the opposition to continue with their bickering.
Roger Wadada Musaalo, a Lawyer, human rights activist, researcher, and politician