Manufacturing consent? Claims 5 million signatures show him love. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
[My Free Thoughts]
Sometime in March this year, Ugandan dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni announced that every needy Ugandan highly-affected by the lockdown was to get food relief to help during the challenging period as the country tackled a world pandemic.
Through the office of the prime minister of Uganda, food was procured and the distribution campaigns began in central Uganda. This, unfortunately, included some few pounds of posho —corn meal— and rotten weevil-infested beans that were distributed to the selected groups of Ugandans had hit by the Covid19 pandemic. To access the picayune food, one needed to have a national identity card to prove that they are Ugandans in order to receive the relief.
Fast forward, months later, there has been a claim by Gen. Museveni’s ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), that five million Ugandans have “endorsed” him for the presidency in 2021.
This has been running as a major headline in Ugandan newspapers for days now. Looking at the endorsements, they are the very same registration forms from the indigent Ugandans who signed up for Covid19 relief food. What a sham! Very many people on social media are complaining about how and why their names, signatures and National Identification Numbers (NIN) have been used in such an unscrupulous manner without their consent. They are distancing themselves from the NRM’s claims that they have endorsed this dictator of 34 years, Gen. Museveni.
Kaweesa Kaweesa, a popular political commentator was the first to blow the whistle on Facebook upon learning that his information—name, signature and NIN number he used to obtain food relief from the government—had falsely suggested that he, along with millions of other Ugandans, has allegedly endorsed dictator Museveni. These so-called “endorsements” were delivered in a media circus by NRM apparatchik to the electoral commission and supposedly came from the 142 districts of Uganda as a pre-requisite for the nomination process.
The interim Electoral Commission Secretary, Leonard Mulekwa, says the commission will soon start the process of “verifying” the signatures presented. Verifying whether they are true signatures is one thing; verifying if the owners of the signatures “endorsed” Gen. Museveni’s presidential candidacy is another thing all together. The supposedly 76-year old despot is really feeling the heat of stiff competition from Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a., member of parliament and the flag-bearer for the new National Unity Platform party. Ugandans await for other political parties to announce their flag-bearers, including for the Forum for Democratic Change party, the opposition party with the most seats in Parliament.
The total number of registered voters in Uganda for the 2021 general elections is 17,658,527, according to the Electoral Commission. The male voters tally at 47.79% and female voters at 52.21%.
Columnist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija writes from Uganda and can be reached via [email protected]