Now that the Uganda presidential elections are over, I suggest that we probably create a ‘Transfer Window’ which is almost similar to that in football in January and June/July every year, due to increased bribery among politicians and crossing of voters. With a ‘trasfer window’ closed, political ‘players’ will not be allowed to move to another party till when the next ‘window’ opens.Seriously,this is something the 9th parliament should think about to avoid the problems we have witnessed in the current elections. Fraudulent elections are the signature of governments run by bribery, partisan state institutions, and dominated by secrecy, zealots, party fanatics and corporate thugs. If fraud is the decider of a national election, it is far more serious, and chances are that the one who does it most usually wins the elections in Africa.
Transfer of players in both football and politics is simply a money grab. Everything else its proponents say is just window-dressing. It mainly involves the transfer of wealth from the superrich to underclass. For instance, the Fernando Torres joined Chelsea at £50m in this year’s January Transfer window because he was given a better contract than he had at Liverpool. He also claimed that he wanted to win trophies, and he is probably right though this made him look like a ‘Judas Iscariot’ to Liverpool fans. Similarly, some Ugandans have recently moved from other parties without an official ‘transfer window’ to join mainly NRM and FDC. Historically,when UPC was formed in the 1960s, it took a big chunk of DP and Kabaka Yekka(KY) members. In 1980 UPC also lost a big chunk of its members to DP. Some of these included: Dr. Martin Aliker, Professor Yoweri Kyesimira, Dr.Kazungu, Dr.Muzira, Wilson Lutaya, Matia Ngobi, James Kahigiriza,Nekyon, Alex Waibale, and many others who had abandoned the sinking ship with driven by late Captain Dr.Obote.
Wayne Rooney wanted to leave Manchester United last year because of United’s lack of clout in attracting more top players to the club, but he later turned around and signed a new contract with them. Similarly, FDC’s Mubarak Kirunda, the chairman LC3 Jinja Central Division, FDC vice chairman for Busoga region, was also reportedly planning to cross to NRM after a shs.1b bribe from Salim Saleh, but he later assured the party that he could not leave because of Shs1 billion. FDC’s Atugonza also reportedly resisted the bribe of shs.1.5b to join NRM. Atugonza behaved like Liverpool’s Stephen Gerald who resisted joining Chelsea FC for £30m some years back despite the astronomical wages he had been promised at Chelsea. The Kampala mayoral elections have been reportedly suspended due to ballot stuffing in favour of NRM’s Peter Ssematimba.Ballot stuffing was also reported during the presidential and parliamentary elections though the elections were generally peaceful compared to 2001 and 2006 elections.
In this election, we have watched some of the veteran politicians in UPC crossing to NRM. For example, I would never have imagined that men like Henry Mayiga, Chris Rwakasisi and Badru Wegulo would be campaigning for Museveni in these elections, but it happened. We also noted large numbers of supporters crossing between FDC and NRM from other political parties because the duos are now looked at as the political giants in Uganda. They are more like Chelsea,Manchestry City and Manchester United in the Premiership.I have intentionally not included Arsenal FC despite their success on the pitch, because they normally don’t spend big money on world-class players. Arsenal are usually a ‘buy 1, get 1 free’ team.Nevertheless, I think most of the crossover vote to NRM is people sick of a fragmented opposition where DP looks at IPC or FDC as enemies rather than people working towards the same goal.It can also be because voters look at FDC and NRM as more successful than other parties as in USA where the Indians have recently found that joining a tribe owning a successful casino is one of the pathways out of poverty.
I note that the voting among the crossovers has favored NRM and president Museveni in the elections more than anybody else. It seems to me that voters in the Uganda act very differently to voters here in the UK where I currently live.Over here someone may vote Labour in the local elections, Conservative in the general elections and Liberal Democrat in the European elections, for example. People swap and change all the time from one party to another depending on who has the best policies for the job at hand. In USA, Crossover voting has always been common in primary elections though a significant number of voters do crossover in the presidential elections. In Canada there are no bullshit elections. You mark an x in the circle you like it goes in a box and the totals are there and the box can be opened if there is any dispute. The cost is pencil and paper.
What a party like FDC needs now as the ‘transfer window’ remains open indefinitely or unofficially is more diversity so that it stops being perceived as a bunch of mostly westerners. They need to target brilliant young minds in all regions in the country as they have been slowly trying to do since 2004. Instead of having some old lame duck for the next 5 years, a rising star in the party should get a running start in any of the top party positions. For example, one of the reasons why Chelsea FC may not win the league this season is because they have got a lot of old players in their first team. Young people should be recruited for the right reasons and not just to use them to fight unnecessary political battles as NRM is doing. NRM are predators, who lie to young people and manipulate their economic situation in order to drag them away from the things they have grown up knowing, such as their belief in Kabakaship or other traditions.
However, with the current wave of people power or empowerment that started in Tunisia and Egypt, and now in Libya,Yemen and Bahrain, the NRM belief that they were going to be in power till when Jesus comes back is thankfully coming to an end. Everybody all over the world has started to realize that oppressing the masses is not an indefinite sustainable formula to staying in power. These protests are from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a person stands up for an idea, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, s/he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope among the population. It started with those men who fought for African independence and it is continuing with men who are now standing against the current African dictators.
Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba