Is Museveni Afraid Of Social Media Platforms Or Bobi Wine?
There is no denying the fact that there is so much happening in Uganda at the moment that I decided to poke my nose into its affairs. Journalists call this Afghanistanism. So, to Uganda we go to find out if President Yoweri Museveni is afraid of the social media platforms or afraid of Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu who is known by his stage name as Bobi Wine, his major opponent in the just concluded presidential election. To answer the foregoing question, which is invariably the headline of this piece, it is expedient to say that Museveni has had the social media platforms shutdown in Uganda, two days before the country's presidential election was conducted on January 14, 2021. Users said they were unable to access WhatsApp or Facebook.
Again, it is not an exaggeration to say that Wine has ahead of the election maximize the advantages that are inherent on Social Media to the fullest. The Ugandan politician, singer, actor, and businessman who currently serves as Member of Parliament for Kyadondo County East constituency in Wakiso District, in Uganda's Central Region, and also leads the People Power, Our Power movement in opposition to President Yoweri Museveni is a Social Media user, and on that virtue has a huge number of youthful followers. It is not an exaggeration to say that since June 2019, when he announced his candidacy for the 2021 Ugandan presidential election that Ugandan youths have been following him on the Social Media platforms.
At this juncture, it is expected for any discerning political observer to ask about things that are happening in Uganda that inspired this writer to poke his nose into affairs that do not directly affect him.
Against the foregoing backdrop, it is expedient to say that as a Journalist that I have the professional mandate to report what goes on in foreign lands, and in this context, Uganda, even as the profession which I am affiliated to has placed me on the pedestal of being an interpreter of global events.
Particularly as a Reporter that is in this context prying into the political affairs of Uganda, it would be unfair to say that I am unprofessional, even when viewed through the prism of the concept of Afghanistanism that is considered to be unethical given the deep-seated inanities that have been prevailing in the political space of Uganda.
For the sake of clarity, it is expedient in this context to say that Afghanistanism is the practice of concentrating on problems in distant parts of the world while ignoring controversial local issues. According to Robert M. Hutchins, it is the practice of referring always to some remote country, place, person, or problem when there is something that ought to be taking care of near at home, which is very acute. Going by expert’s definitions, it can therefore be deduced that Afghanistanism is an unethical act in journalism professions or practice where journalist or media stations give attention more on foreign or faraway issues ignoring more pressing issues at home in order to divert attention.
Against the backdrop of the foregoing definition of Afghanistanism, permit me to confess that even if it is unethical that I would not mind violating it since it is worthwhile to do so. According to an African proverb, “What affects the eyes equally affects the nose”. Explanatorily put, whenever the eyes shed tears, the nose sympathetically emits catarrh. After all, the world is a global village that one cannot rule out the possibility of Nigeria, in West Africa, replicating the inanities that are been perpetrated by the dictatorial government of President Yuweri Museveni.
As monitored by this writer with the aid of google search engine, Ugandans cast their votes in a keenly contested election that was heralded with violent election campaigns. Political observers say the Ugandan’s polity unprecedentedly got heated up as the pop star turned politician, Bobi Wine tries to unseat Yoweri Museveni from his 34-year rule, and still vying for the sixth time.
Not only that, delays were seen in the delivery of polling materials in some places, including where Wine voted in the capital and opposition stronghold of Kampala amidst cheers of youths that cast their votes for him. Wine was intermittently observed making the sign of the cross and raising his fist and intermittently smiled as he assured the youths that he was confident of victory.
On his twitter handle, he tweeted, “Hello Uganda! Despite the wide spread fraud and violence experienced across the country earlier today, the picture still looks good. Thank you Uganda for turning up and voting in record numbers. The challenge now is for Mr. Byabakama and the EC to declare the will of the Pple”.
As expected, particularly on a social media space, a reply that came from Razz @Nyikazv asked, “Hope this is your account and not fake. Hope it will not start dishing fake news. How did you tweet when all social media are suspended?”
Replying to @Nyikazv and @HEBobiwine, @Afro Wave news tweeted, “I see many insulting answers - it is wrong... Not everyone knows technology... VPN allows your phone to "pretend" being in other country where social media work without limitation. I believe this is what is in use”.
Still on why it is expedient to show Museveni the way out, his resort to shutting down the virtual space, at least, for the second time in the political history of Uganda is justifiable enough for anyone to poke into the political affairs of the country as it is a dangerous trend that is unarguably detrimental to democracy in African Continent.
At this juncture it is not a misnomer to say that it is foolhardy for any political leader across African countries; not just Uganda, to shut down the social media space which has become part and parcel of the developments in knowledge and information. It is no doubt a component of technologies that is providing new opportunities for political parties and political candidates.
Worse still, it is hypocritical for the politician to maximize the benefits that are inherent in the use of social media to give information and build relationships with the public during electioneering only to order that it should be shut down during the period of voting; at the time results would be trickling in. There is no denying the fact that social media platforms have gained importance in fast paced periods like this. The social media presents a vast amount of means for information seeking. And among young voters in particular, equipped with means of political information, serve to diffuse political campaign messages to other people. To this end, permit me to ask again, “Is Museveni Afraid Of Social Media Platforms Or Bobi Wine?”