Doubts in Leadership: Uganda Election

by Tatyana Baldwin
Image: Element5 Digital/Pexels

Governance and leadership are instrumental to the success or failure of a nation. Whether the successor of the previous leader is chosen by hereditary means or elected into office by the people, it is crucial that this person is willing to take actions that will benefit the nation as a whole. This goes for anyone who is in power, whether it is an individual or a small group of people. In cases where leaders are elected into their positions, there may be extra pressure to ensure that their being in power is no mistake. Having the opportunity to lead a country or any organization is both an honor and a blessing, but it is also a cause for doubt and fear. Doubt is not only reserved for people in power, but also for those who put them in power.

The recent election in Uganda has been the cause of much doubt and even talks of fraud. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has been in power since 1986 and was just recently declared the victor in the 2020 Ugandan election. His opponent in the race, Bobi Wine, is a former singer who earned the votes of many young people in Uganda. Wine is 38, making him half of Museveni’s age. Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world with ⅔ of the population being under 30. This fact was vital to Wine’s chances of success against Uganda’s longest-reigning leader, President Museveni. His victory would have resulted in a generational shift in power. However, the results of the election state that Museveni won 58% of the votes, while Wine won only 34%. Was it truly the voice of the people, or could this loss have been caused by another factor? Wine and many of his followers speculate that his loss is the result of  a countrywide internet shutdown. 

In past elections, shutdowns of social apps and even internet blackouts are reported during key voting periods. Museveni controls traditional media in Uganda, which leaves Wine to rely heavily on social apps. With the ban of Facebook and Twitter, Wine’s chances of influencing voters and gaining support decreased. Wine and many of his followers opposed the results of the election and planned to fight them. Wine himself has been arrested for sparking protests and riots amongst the citizens. Even Wine’s home was raided and he was put under house arrest. His supporters condemn these actions and worry for his safety. 

Museveni has dismissed the claims regarding fraud even though Mathias Mpuuga, one of Wine’s National Unity Platform, stated in a news conference that “we have evidence of ballot stuffing and other forms of election malpractice.” He goes on to say how the party will “take all measures that the law permits to challenge this fraud.” In the midst of these claims, the United States and Britain have issued statements calling for an investigation into the Ugandan election.  

As a leader, it is important to take actions that stand to benefit the country as a whole. Leaders are trusted to make choices with their citizens’ best interests at heart to ensure that the people’s needs are met. However, when there is a possibility that leaders have infringed upon key rights, such as the right to a free election, they violate their position as a person in power. As of right now, the fate of Ugandan governance remains uncertain. There are still investigations to take place and facts to check before the election can be named the result of fraud, or simply the results of a fair election.

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