Africa-Press – Uganda. On January 14, Uganda will hold presidential and parliamentary elections. In countries that are managed well politically, elections cannot give serious cause for concern and are normally held peacefully, with security forces in their barracks and everyone else going about their business as usual.
In Uganda, things are different. Politics remains the largest breakfast-lunch-dinner table imaginable — and nearly everyone wants to be as close to it as is realistically possible.
Politics is where bread is made and buttered. Every single regime apologist, sympathiser and propagandist you see on TV saying, for example, that President Museveni has achieved a lot in 34 years — in a country where national electricity access remains at 26.7 per cent (World Bank figures) and where a drizzle and thunder mean you may not have electricity for hours — is either looking for bread or trying to protect bread that they already have.
Many young people you see around presidential candidates Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine), Mugisha Muntu and Patrick Amuriat are looking for bread (for the most part) and are convinced that politics is their best bet.
They have seen people who arrived in Kampala with only threadbare shirts and old, shapeless shoes looking every bit like dry tilapia amassing wealth, often corruptly, and they strongly believe that they can acquire the same wealth once they become politicians.
The prize at stake, it seems to me, is a position in politics — or being close to those with positions in politics.Politicians who are wielding state power have stubbornly refused to leave the political stage, and those challenging them, emboldened by desperate and frustrated youths cheering them, are determined to ramp up pressure.
That has made the run-up to the elections a real bloodbath. We have had the deadliest election campaign since 1996, and the Daily Monitor has been publishing full pages of images of Ugandans massacred by security forces.
There are fears that things could get worse after the results of the election are announced. But you, voters, need to know this: You have one life to live, and there is no evidence that death renews life.
Mr Kyagulanyi has been losing supporters since 2018, but you would be naive to think he begins his day thinking about them. Even if he does, it really does not matter. They are gone forever; they are going to be dead for trillions of years.
Mr Museveni has witnessed death for decades and, as a former rebel leader, manufactured death. He has narrowly escaped death in his quest for power. He is no ‘stranger’ to death.
The only death that can really sadden him, I think, is death in his family. But his family, just like the family of Mr Kyagulanyi, is safe. It is protected by the Special Forces Command, the elite unit of the UPDF headed by his son Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
Let me be clear: You have the right to vote, but the truth is that the next president will be Mr Museveni. Do not put your life in harm’s way over a pre-rigged election. If you die in violence, Uganda will still be around, just as it will be when Mr Museveni finally bows out. People who will miss you greatly are your relatives and friends.
But if you want to die protecting your vote, it is OK. Perhaps if, after January 14, Kampala streets are covered by bodies of Ugandans shot and killed while protesting theft of their votes, foreigners will intervene and end Mr Museveni’s vice-like grip on power.
Mr Namiti is a journalist and former Al Jazeera digital editor in charge of the Africa [email protected] @kazbuk