By Don Wanyama
On Monday, June 4th, I was hosted as a guest on a morning TV political show alongside the Buhweju County MP, Francis Mwijukye. The show was happening just three days after the FDC flagbearer, Betty Muzanira, had narrowly won the Rukungiri Woman MP by-election.
Like most FDC supporters and officials in the aftermath of that by-election, Mwijukye used the show to gloat about their victory, insisting that it was a resounding defeat of not just the NRM but President Museveni, for among other reasons, amending Article 102 (b) of the Constitution.
Alluding to another FDC close victory in the Jinja East by-election weeks earlier, Mwijukye, like most FDC fanatics, claimed a wave had been set in motion that would see the NRM lose most upcoming elections because “the public was enraged” by what had happened in Parliament with the amendment of the Constitution. According to them, this would climax into a defeat of the NRM in 2021.
When I pointed out to him that those two victories were a flash in the pan, and a more scientific opportunity to test his theory at a national level was just a month away with the pending LC elections and polls in the new municipalities, Mwijukye had the audacity to announce (the recording is available) that the NRM would not win more than two seats in the new municipalities.
It is now over a fortnight since the LC (women and LC1) elections were held, it is also about a week since the six new municipalities voted in MPs. Here is the breakdown of those results; In the women councils, NRM won 256,100 (or 84.5%) positions, out of 303,460. NRM-leaning independents (most of who had taken part in the NRM primaries) won 27,069 positions, with the combined opposition picking a paltry 6.6% of the total vote.
For the LC1 elections, of the 54,713 villages that elected, NRM won 37,496 villages (69%), NRM-leaning independents took 11,685 positions, while the combined opposition (not just FDC) won in 5,532 villages or 10% of the available positions.
In the new municipalities that voted last week, contrary to the predictions of Hon Mwijukye and the FDC, the NRM won four of the six parliamentary seats and five of the seven mayoral seats.
The FDC, which likes to refer to itself as the “largest” opposition party, did not win a single parliamentary seat. Their candidate, Eunice Namatende, whom they had hyped ahead of the Bugiri Municipality election, finished a distant third behind JEEMA’s Asuman Basalirwa and NRM’s John Francis Oketcho. In fact, with 928 votes, Namatende was in close competition with invalid votes (845) than she was with Basalirwa (3,928 votes) or Oketcho (3,267 votes).
The FDC bubble has burst. For a party that had made the amendment of the Constitution to remove presidential age limits the clarion call for their campaigns ahead of the LC and new municipalities’ elections, they must be wondering what hit them. There is no doubt they are in disarray.
Evidence of this confusion came to the fore on Monday when the FDC president Amuriat Oboi and party spokesperson Semujju Nganda refused to take questions from reporters during a media briefing at their headquarters in Najjanakumbi. It is understandable. The FDC has no answers to the myriad of questions created by their own chest-thumping.
How will they explain to the public that the NRM party which they predicted would be decimated at the LC polls actually swept over 70% of the seats, while the FDC could not cobble more than 5%?
How will they look into the cameras and tell the country that the NRM party, which was meant to lose all six of the new municipalities, actually went on to win four seats while FDC (which they fondly call “the peoples party”), left empty-handed, ignored by the same people they purport to represent?
Besides the constitutional amendment, the FDC and its loud social media activists created a buzz that the introduction of new taxes (mobile money and OTT) in the Budget was the last straw that would break the NRM and President Museveni’s back. How then can Amuriat, Nganda and Mwijukye face the cameras and acknowledge that instead it’s the FDC back that has been broken?
It has been said that lies may set out early but truth will get to the destination first. The FDC has built their foundation on telling lies about the NRM and President Museveni. They have increasingly also set the tone for anti-Uganda rhetoric, trying to wash down anything positive about the country. But Ugandans are way wiser and more discerning. The FDC must eat humble pie and accept that theirs is a party in crisis.
The writer is the Senior Press Secretary to His Excellency the President