Bobi Wine casts his vote. Photo: Facebook.
Uganda’s lead challenger Bobi Wine has taken an overwhelming lead in the all-important Buganda region, according to unofficial returns collated by supporters of the opposition, which could tip the scale in his favor in Uganda’s presidential race. He is likely to win in the first round of voting.
The Baganda—as the people of Buganda region are known—make up about 17% of the country’s population of 44 million. Their vote made it easier for Gen. Yoweri Museveni, the dictator of 35 years, to rig past presidential elections. A record number of voters, 18 million, have signed up to vote in this 2021 election. Most of them were recruited in response to an appeal by Bobi Wine, a young member of Parliament whose given name is Robert Kyagulanyi–he launched a nation-wide voter registration drive.
Unoffocial tallies from sampling of polling stations in Buganda show Bobi Wine winning 70% of the vote in parts of Buganda and 81% in other parts.
Millions of young people are voting for the first time. Bobi Wine is 38 years old, and 80% of Uganda’s population is under the age of 35. The demographics clearly support the challenger, whose party is called National Unity Platform (NUP). Buganda is also the challenger Bobi Wine’s home region, and by winning the vote there, he closes Gen. Museveni’s path to winning the 51% required to avoid a runoff. Depending on how the rest of the vote is split regionally–and the breakdown is good for Bobi Wine, as shown below–he won’t need a runoff election.
Here’s the regional breakdown:
Gen. Museveni must win the Western part of Uganda, which is his home region. However, a significant portion of the votes will go to Mugisha Muntu, a retired general who heads the Alliance for Democratic Transformation (ANT) party, and who is also from Western Uganda. Bobi Wine will also perform well in the West, judging by the massive turnout at campaign events he held there.
Bunyoro, another major region which was once a lock for Museveni is also competitive and up for grabs. Another region which Museveni traditionally relied on is Eastern Uganda. Here again, Patrick Amuriat, of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), who hails from the East, will eat into Museveni’s base, and Bobi Wine will also perform well here.
The people of Busoga make up about 9% of the national population and Bobi Wine has strong support in this region. He also has strong support in Mbale, especially in the urban strongholds.
Bobi Wine will win the West Nile region, hands down. When he campaigned for the opposition there in the city of Arua, on Aug. 13, 2018, the candidate defeated an opponent from Gen. Museveni’s ruling National Resistance Party (NRM). That was also the occasion when Gen. Museveni panicked and ordered the notorious Special Forces Command (SFC), which is now commanded by his son Gen. Muhoozi Kaenerugaba, to attack and arrest Bobi Wine and other opposition leaders.
Many of them, including Bobi Wine, and another member of Parliament named Francis Zaake, were later tortured and taken to court on concocted treason charges. Gen. Museveni had also been campaigning for his parliamentary candidate in Arua on that date. When he saw the huge crowds attending the opposition candidate’s rally, to hear Bobi Wine speak, Museveni ordered the attack in a desperate attempt to disrupt the vote. During the assault, Bobi Wine’s driver, Yasin Kawuma, was shot and killed. He’d been seated on the passenger’s side and it’s believed the bullets were intended for Bobi Wine himself.
The remaining votes are from Acholi and Lango regions in the north. A good chunk will go to the Democratic Party’s Norbert Mao, who hails from Acholi, while Bobi Wine, Muntu, and Amuriat will also get significant portions. Once again, Museveni won’t be able to make significant gains.
The demographic shift, thanks to the recruitment of millions of new young voters, has slanted the playing field in the opposition’s favor—especially to Bobi Wine’s advantage.