The fresh-faced dynamism with which Ugandans are gearing up for next year’s election, makes 2016 one of the most important elections capable of re-writing the political script of Uganda, post independence. At this point, you probably cannot be forgiven for thinking that this is going to be just like any other election. It is not. Some of the circumstantial issues to blame include the likelihood of having either some new serious contenders or contenders with new serious energy as compared to the previous elections. Just that anecdotal occurrence is more than likely to inject a fresh lease of verve in what has been typically described as an ‘apathetic’ electorate. Actually, I think it has already done so – some acquaintances who I would casually say have always been cynical and indifferent about politics in the past years are getting psyched up already (only hoping that, that vim will translate into actual meaningful participation in the upcoming electoral milestones). On the supply side, there seems to be a number of wild-card entries into the arena that is if the recent ‘aspirational’ announcements are anything to go by. For those in Kampala, you might think that the hype is only around the presidential position; you will be deeply shocked when you make that trip to your upcountry home – only to realize that the political heat is on everywhere and is seemingly too hot to leave the grassroots with any green grass.
Well, my seer fly on the wall tells me this is unlike any other. It is going to be an action packed political journey to next year. So, please fasten your seatbelt! We can’t rule out projections that It will be noisy, messy (at times), and unpredictable. A lot more unpredictable with supposedly all or most of the electors (mandatorily) on the voters roll; more confusing when you think about the plump demographic bulge of the young voters (between 18 and 40); and even a lot more complicated if we have a higher number of fired-up first time voters compared to previous elections. In short, besides the wild card entries on the supply side of things, voting population stats and characteristics this time round make 2016 a rare vote.
The once straight forecasts on elements like election outcome are slowly but surely waning from commonplace political talk, call it analysis – leaving many including analysts waiting with bated breath.
That notwithstanding, we mustn’t tire, we all must look forward to this season with hope and resolve. Of course it is within our confines to shame and shun all those ‘prophets of doom’ who are already proclaiming mayhem ahead of next years vote. Every Ugandan has an impeccable duty to make this election work, and work well for the country’s greater good. Whereas there is seemingly high energy around this election, we all must work to ensure positive energy while maintaining constructive engagement. The recent arrests of some political aspirants together with their supporters may have set a bad tone and sent mixed signals for the dawn of the season; however, the relevant authorities have a chance to ensure that the rest of the period is safe and conducive. It is important that various election stakeholders including security agencies, electoral commission, media, etc exercise good levels of professionalism just as good as those we will expect from political parties, candidates, civil society among other players. The duty to avert thepotential of any violence and any other electoral malpractices lies with all of us – the rights-holders and the duty bearers. Let's use it responsibly and professionally!