The government’s decision to continue with elections meant an adjustment of the electoral process for operation with consideration of the risks. The solution, scientific campaigning, made the media the best campaign platform going forward.
Nevertheless, there are encumbrances to media campaigning. The challenge with media platforms is their inaccessibility as caused by consistent police badgering, especially towards the opposition. Truly, the police is now playing hide-and-seek with the opposition; it’s a most special relationship they have with Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu.
Meanwhile, the NRM candidates went on, uninterrupted, to hold mass rallies and campaigns. Constituencies such as Bulambuli, Sheema, Napak and Mitooma were hosts to NRM candidate political gatherings. The very same for which opposition candidates were being pursued. This nature of operation though, didn’t last so long. Evelyn Anite’s procession in Koboko was so alarming that the outrage it caused solicited administrative reaction.
In a joint security forces press briefing; the police spokesperson CP Fred Enanga was forced to condemn the conduct of NRM and NUP candidates. He went as far as saying that Anite’s case was outstanding. Yet, she wasn’t the only one. Cracking the whip on her set an expectation from the public of the same treatment for all other violators.
To start with, Anite’s campaign manager was arrested along with three others from her team. She, the police say, escaped to Kampala. Thus, she was summoned. Similarly, all divisional and regional police commanders from areas that have been prone to campaigns without police response were summoned to answer for their negligence.
Nonetheless, Anite insolently denied having been a part of the Kiboko procession. She claimed that the entire event was spontaneous as her constituents were elated over the delivery of the new ambulance; one that was set to be delivered in the pre-Covid-19 period, now so opportunistically delivered in these trying times.
She wants police and the general public to believe that instantaneously, the women in the viral video happened to all having yellow Anite-branded attires all by themselves! Preposterous! It starts to seem that someone is coming to their senses. These kinds of injustices could potentially harm the incumbent President. His low approval ratings would suffer a grievous blow if nothing was done about the indifference.
As I read about how well the police had handled the Anite issue, I couldn’t help thinking – what next? Holding Anite and the likes accountable meant that NRM candidates now have to approach 2021 fairly and squarely. They can no longer rely on the partisan nature of the low-level police officials to operate without question. In other words, their advantage over the opposition has been lost.
Another well-known fact is that the opposition is better at working in constrained environments; as this is the order of the day for them. On the other hand, NRM candidates lack that ‘training’. Now, the tables have turned and the opposition may have the upper hand.
Another thing the NRM lacks is what one may call a sympathy vote. Oppressive government policies now hover over their heads like doomsday clouds. Consequentially, if the police keep up this seemingly impartial modus operandi, NRM folks have a mountain to overcome having lost their operational privileges. Precisely, NRM risks losing traction with the voters and subsequently, seats in the August House. That’s in my view anyway.
The logical option now is to completely lift the lockdown. This step would permit what would seem like an equal ground of contest for all participants. All political aspirants would have liberty to make as much campaign progress as their resources can allow them.
Obviously, NRM candidates have a wealthier pool of resources than their counterparts. Lifting the lockdown allows them to tap into those resources to buy back the favour of the people. Any attempt at this now, as things stand, would result in another Anite or Aceng scenario. The only way for jaja’s babies to regain their advantage is by him letting them out to play. Otherwise, the field is levelled and I’d bet my meagre worth that this is out of NRM’s operational comfort zone.
Of course, lifting the lockdown seems much less likely considering the ‘worsening’ Covid-19 situation. Uganda has registered well over 1,200 Covid-19 infections and 9 deaths from the same. This means that the least logical step forward is allowing free and unchecked public interactions. There are some around the malwa pot who say these numbers are doctored to serve a political agenda. If that be the case, it’s a bitter pill!
Notwithstanding the numbers, curves and whatnots, let’s look at the de facto state of affairs. At the moment, only a few areas of operation are still closed down. These being considered of an incredibly high risk. Among the areas that were opened up, I’ll focus on the arcades.
If one were to take a trip downtown (mark you, one may not have to go thither to see what I speak of), one would notice that the observation of the SOPs is at a bare minimum. One would essentially be involved in transacting air. The environment is incredibly compact, so much so that there’s barely any ground to see in the busier parts of it.
There social interactions are without masks and the washing of hands, where it happens, is ceremonial. The temperature guns are utilised in only a few areas such as shop entrances. Simply put, the downtown arcade area is a brewing pot for the Corona Virus. Opening the arcades and saloons, allowing boda-bodas to carry passengers among other things that were permitted operation; all this being done with new infections and deaths every day, was symbolic of accepting the inevitable – we shall not wait for the vaccine, to resume life.
Besides schools that bring together people from so many countries, including beyond the borders; we ought to accept that everything else should be allowed to operate. The curfew too should be lifted. This is logical because as we are; opening everything else apart from the borders would place us in no more danger than we already are.
This logic would also support political rallies. Once normalcy is attained, less national resources will be spent on equipping the police in one of the most peaceful countries in Africa; if not the world. The resources wasted on security would be placed in actual medical research. The economy would bloom and enrich the national revenue – you know, so that we can afford to pay parliament billions of shillings a year to enact oppressive laws.
I’m digressing, the point was that lifting the lockdown is the way to go if the NRM desires to maintain its healthy political run. Having lost the privilege of uninterrupted operation (thank you Anite), a complete lifting of the lockdown is the way for jaja’s babies to regain their advantage over seasoned politicians.
- Joel Kenneth Ndawula is a Student of Law at Uganda Martyrs University Nkozi. He is an inspired writer, the editor and author here; a blogger of sorts.
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