Yes, Museveni will win the 2021 elections unless a miracle happens!

By Abbey Semuwemba

I agree with Dr.Kiiza Besigye that ‘none of the candidates contesting against Museveni will be announced the winner’. Uganda elections since 1996 have always followed the same trajectory: the organizer and incumbent take it all. There has always been someone in the opposition the media looks at as being the main contender against Museveni, but it never makes any difference to the incumbent. Museveni has always successfully managed to gain a majority of votes (more than 50%) required to be elected President, and I can’t see that changing at the conclusion of the current elections.

Museveni may take a dip in western Uganda votes, as it has been the case ever since Besiggye, a fellow western, started standing against him in 2001. Museveni got 97% in 1996 while the opposition got 2%. In 2001, Museveni got 87% while the opposition got 12%. In 2006, Museveni got 78% while the opposition got 21%. In 2011, Museveni got 81% while the opposition got 18%. With Mugisha Muntu and Gen. Tumukunde joining the race, there’s hope that this percentage may be reduced again, but it won’t be much because they aren’t as respected on the ground as Besigye. Westerners and northerners have always generally voted as a block, unlike other parts of the country. People in Buganda have never voted as a block under Museveni.

Ethnic coalitions can lead to voters’ affiliation with a certain party. An example from Kenya nicely illustrates this interconnectivity. In Kenya, the Kikuyu, Embu and Meru ethnic groups were strongly affiliated with the Party of National Unity ( PNU), and members of these ethnic groups voted almost in bloc for PNU’s candidate Kibaki in the 2007 presidential election. In this example, ethnicity - being a member of the Kikuyu, Embu, or Meru - certainly had an influence on voters’ choice by influencing voters’ party.

I think Uganda’s Kyagulanyi may have read notes on Kenya’s Party of National Unity (PNU), before he changed Kibalama 's party from National Unity, Reconciliation and Development Party to National Union Party (NUP). Indeed, a lot of Baganda associate themselves with NUP because they look at it as their own. Any Muganda who doesn't support him is being looked at as a Judas Iscariot, or pretending to be a Muganda. Coincidentally, the same name, NUP, was temporarily adopted by USA's Republican party till 1869 upon expiration of Johnson's only term as President.

Some people have predicted that Museveni may fail to get over the 51% mark, but I disagree with them. It’s well known that Museveni has been losing in Kampala and Northern Uganda since 2001, and I can see him losing again in Kampala but improving a lot in northern Uganda. For some unknown reason, northerners have started falling in love with NRM despite the abject poverty and wars that have been a symbol of that region for decades under Museveni. In 2011, Museveni did better than the opposition when he got 58% of the northern vote, while the opposition got 25%. Museveni has only done better than the opposition in Kampala in 1996 when he got 57% of the votes, while the opposition got 38%. But, overall, he has been winning in central and eastern Uganda since 1996.

Like I said before, even if all the 17 million registered voters go for an opposing candidate, and Museveni only gets his family to vote for him, he will remain the president of Uganda. Museveni has got three bullets in his chamber: Electoral Commission, the military and money, and none miss its target. With the coming of Covid and the restrictions that followed, I have a feeling that the percentages (both presidential and parliamentary) have already been filled somewhere in the system.

There's one silver lining in all this: Museveni is now very old-- so, anything is possible, and the future isn't as predictable as before.