When South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka staged her first concert in Uganda in 1991, President Yoweri Museveni was a hugely popular leader. He had been in power for just five years, and many Ugandans viewed him as a political messiah. He didn’t have to worry about losing elections–although he had lost his first-ever national election that he contested in 1980–and didn’t have formidable political opponents.
Today, things look different. Mr Museveni has overstayed his political welcome, something he knows perfectly well. He seems to be in panic mode as he prepares for re-election in 2021. Many think he will win the election because of unfair advantage. But he doesn’t want to take chances and is doing everything in his power to nip in the bud everything and anything that he views as a political threat.
That explains why Chaka Chaka, who has been to Uganda on numerous occasions and has always been allowed to hold concerts, was not allowed to be part of the Nkuuka show, an annual end-of-year concert in Mengo the seat of Buganda Kingdom. Chaka Chaka’s friend and singer Bobi Wine, who is likely to be one of Mr Museveni’s main challenger in the 2021 election, was also prevented from taking part in the concert–and in a New Year’s Eve message to Ugandans, he said the government has so far cancelled at least 157 concerts he has organised.
The police said Chaka Chaka entered the country on a visa that precluded her participation in concerts. Police spokesman Fred Enanga said the singer was going to engage in commercial activities.
While what the police told Ugandans may be true, the truth is that Chaka Chaka’s problem was her close ties to Bobi Wine. If Chaka Chaka knew nothing about the singer and had never met or said anything about him, she would have held her concert without anyone in immigration and police making noise about her stay in the country.
Mr Museveni’s panic mode is hard to understand. He has more or less been campaigning since he won his last election in February 2016, which means he already has an advantage over his political opponents. He has unfettered access to and control of the Treasury and can spend freely–we don’t have caps on spending during electoral campaigns–to get undecided voters to his side. Many Ugandans have already received wads of cash from the president in broad daylight.
Mr Museveni is the only politician who can hold a rally anywhere in Uganda, anytime, any day. He has completely ignored all calls from his political opponents for political reforms, which would ensure that the country has a level playing field and it remains glued to the democratisation path.
It is not for nothing that the reforms, some of which relate to the operations of the Electoral Commission, haven’t been carried out. Many Ugandans think the current Electoral Commission does Mr Museveni’s bidding because he appoints the head of the commission and its commissioners.
If Mr Museveni really cared about free and fair elections, he wouldn’t baulk at the idea of reforming the Electoral Commission. He wouldn’t care about who heads the commission.
Given the fact that Mr Museveni has unashamedly done everything he thinks will make it hard for his political opponents to win elections, he should simply sit back and relax. Singers like Chaka Chaka, who visit Uganda for a couple of days and sing for Ugandans, can’t and won’t make his political opponents gain a major advantage. If Chaka Chaka was allowed to perform and even made political statements at the concert, she wouldn’t significantly change Bobi Wine’s political fortunes.
In a desperate bid to cling to leadership, Mr Museveni has done and is doing things that strongly suggest he is even trampling on the constitutional rights of his political opponents. How can a singer born and bred in Uganda be prevented from staging concerts in Uganda just because he expressed interest in gunning for the highest political office in the land?
Why should Mr Museveni pride himself in having led efforts to enact what he calls a good constitution when he doesn’t follow the same constitution whose first clause puts emphasis on the sovereignty of the people and clearly states that “all power belongs to the people who shall exercise their sovereignty in accordance with this Constitution”?
Mr Museveni will win the 2021 election and will continue leading Uganda. But his victory will be hollow–a charade.
The writer is a journalist and former Al Jazeera digital editor in charge of the Africa desk
Source link : https://allafrica.com/stories/202001050010.html
Publish date : 2020-01-05 17:40:03