As we count down to the general elections polling date of January 14, political candidates and their political parties are working towards strengthening grassroots support and representations.
And while nobody can predict who exactly will become the next president of Uganda after the Thursday elections, we anticipate a two man presidential race between incumbent President Yoweri Museveni of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) who wants to extend his rule to 40 years and youthful Kyagulanyi Robert Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine of National Unity Platform (NUP).
Nevertheless, for a win to be guaranteed, a party or a candidate should have overwhelming support and people who have decided to cast their votes in its favour.
It also involves, for an incumbent, wooing opposition supporters to your side and convincing them to vote for you. The same with opposition candidates, too.
However, there has recently been a wave of NUP leaders and supporters crossing to the ruling NRM party. When the campaigning period kicked off two months ago, the NRM party secretariat in Kampala dispatched different teams to move across the country to mobilise massive support for their presidential candidate, Museveni who is campaigning under the slogan “Securing Your Future”.
The teams have also been targeting opposition supporters and disgruntled groups wooing them to join the ‘yellow bus’ hence the recent wave of defections.
But what is the authenticity of the defections?
True NUP has lost party officials and party members from different regions in the country. Over the weekend, two incidents of defections from NUP to NRM happened.
First, a group of 300 youths who claimed to be NUP supporters gathered at Kololo Air strip waiting to be welcomed into NRM party by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda and NRM Vice Chairperson Moses Kigongo.
The group is said to have been ‘poached’ by NRM fanatic and Events Promoter Balaam Barugahara.
All seemed to be going well until the time for sharing ‘some ka money.’ The youths went into protest saying they were promised Shs100,000 each but their ‘broker’ instead wants to pay them less than the promised amount .
A second incident happened in Mubende in an event presided over by State Minister for Kampala Capital City Authority Benna Namugwanya. Again youths protested being given Shs15,000 instead of the agreed Shs80,000 to defect from NUP to NRM.
The above are just a few events of the defections as we have seen many have even been taken to meet President Yoweri Museveni.
Who are these defectors?
We have decided not to focus on the price tag that influences anyone to defect from one party to another but pay attention on whether the defectors are really members of the said party.
Joel Ssenyonyi, the NUP spokesperson admits that some of their members have fallen trap because of money fronted by the regime but says most of the defections are stage managed to water down their cause of bringing the desired changed to Ugandans.
He reveals that most individuals that claim to be NUP members don’t even have party membership cards and the others have cards made from Nasser Road and are not officially acquired from the party.
The NUP leader, Bobi Wine has always said that he’s aware that crossing from NUP to NRM has become a lucrative business. He has always comically encouraged the youths to take the money but vote for him as all the monies paraded by NRM is tax payers’ money.
On the other hand NRM officials have denied tagging any price to individuals that defect to their party.