As a political scientist, I have keenly been following Kizza Besigye, Bobi Wine, Mugisha Muntu, Nobert Mao and M7 during this COVID-19 pandemic. Some, in many ways, have scored political wins and others not much.
At first, M7 seemed to be offering the leadership a country needed during a crisis. His scores proliferated. But instead of capitalizing on it, his political fame blinded him and either his policy advisors lied to him or he didn’t listen to them. So many mistakes have been made – some of which may forever remain the nadir of NRM’s political reign. Sadly, M7 and his group had all the costumes, rhythms and instruments to be the best dancers (for they were the only dancers in the theatre after all). Alas, poor choreography and lack of creativity disabled them from putting up an exceptional dancing performance. And the audience who had bought the expensive tickets got frustrated.
Mugisha Muntu – my best political leader in Uganda has been missing in action. I wouldn’t even give him a 15% score for exemplifying leadership during a crisis situation like this.
Mao, as usual, helped me to be more reflective, asking fundamental questions but not really offering what a leader would do to help her people navigate through complex emergencies.
Bobi Wine once again has demonstrated his political prowess, defying odds – leading and inspiring in the best way he could. Whether through his online concert which was a classic platform to pass on political messages. Even for an Ojok who does not understand Luganda and hasn’t been a fan of Bobi’s music, I found myself glued to the concert. But also, Bobi refused to keep quiet about injustices and police brutality. You do not get many leaders who can stand up to fight for what’s wrong during emergencies. People Power also opened the door to their new home in Kamokya. However, whilst having a home is applaudable in politics, location matters. It would have been better for PP to have a location a few metres away from Nakasero. Psychologically, that would make some of us imagine that State House is not so far away after all.
But my political behemoth during this crisis is Besigye. Even before the Uganda government had a strategy (which I doubt if they have any to-date), the “people’s government” already had one. They had started distributing food and sanitary support and already offering a massive nutritional awareness campaign. Perchance, it can be deduced that the people’s governments swiftness led to the outright refusal by the Ugandan government for any non-governmental assistance to be offered to anyone. Even during the lockdown, Besigye demonstrated to us that he is not just a political figurehead, but a politician who is also a physician. The wealth of health information provided by Besigye’s online addresses and posts far outstrips that provided by the fully facilitated Ministry of Health social media platforms which were mostly reduced to reporting cases and providing updates on COVID-19. Besigye’s performances offering informed analyses infused with deep knowledge and expertise on public health made me understand more about the COVID-19 and our response as a country to it. Lest you forget, Besigye actually ignited the conversation about NSSF’s need to come to the rescue of its members at a time like this. For all intents and purposes, I thought Besigye had lost it all in the 2016 elections. I thought his name was unwritten in Uganda’s political future. I was wrong. Besigye has reinvented as a key player in our body politic. COVID-19 has offered Besigye another lease to demonstrate to Ugandans that he is an erudite candidate who doesn’t only deserve to be in the ballot papers come 2021 or 202X but also as one who can steer a country during crisis.
Above all, a stronger opposition is all we need to thrive in a multiparty democratic dispensation.