Bobi Wine’s new party; blunder or a smart move?

Bobi Wine’s new party; blunder or a smart move?

By Special Correspondent
Robert Kyagulanyi’s sudden declaration on Wednesday that People Power has now formed a political party took even the most alert pundits by surprise.  Many people were quick to start writing off Bobi Wine and his People Power movement for what appeared like an amateurish blunder of throwing away a formidable unregistered movement that the government cannot deregister, an unofficial formation that cannot be banned and joining a party that exists and operates at the mercy of the state.

The over ten thousand politicians who had rushed to seek the official blessing of the unofficial organization were thrown off balance. For while it was okay to belong to another party and also subscribe to People Power to reap the mass support of the numbers believed to come with it, the hitherto unknown National Unity Platform has no apparent advantages to offer, yet quitting one’s party for NUP appears to be a prescription for political oblivion for now.

Trading as NUP, People Power seems set to lose the popular and strong supporters it has enjoyed from different political camps including the ruling NRM party.Why would anyone shed the popular red beret that sits like a saint’s hullo on the wearer’s head for an insignificant umbrella of an unknown NUP, many wondered. NUP had been a dormant but registered political party that has not reared its head for any reason over the past 16 years of its existence. But one indicator of shrewd and purposeful operation emerged as the resurrected party was publicly taken over by Robert Kyagulanyi, when it was disclosed that work for his take over started about a year ago.

Even the new name was debated and ratified, lawfully changed, in readiness for Kyagulanyi’s taking it over. All along, People Power leaders were swearing that they would not seek registration, which was believable since the government would have to be out of its mind first before entertaining any application to register a party by Bobi Wine.So what can Kyagulanyi do with his new party whose full name doesn’t easily roll off any tongue, even a Political Science professor’s?It can be presumed with certainty that while government was approving and formalizing the NUP’s change of identity last year, neither state intelligence nor the NRM machinery knew that the outfit already belonged to Kyagulanyi, the young man who had been a thorn in the government’s flesh for two years by then.

Would a clearly calculative Kyagulanyi undertake such a delicate plot and pull it off without being detected unless it was for very high stakes? Is it not more likely that Kyagulanyi is smartly avoiding taking any chances with his candidature if for example an avalanche of (unserious) presidential aspirants kept streaming to the Electoral Commission and say, those not being sponsored by a political party got locked in the interest of sanitizing the exercise? The EC seems to have such latent powers that its declaration of scientific polls has met with minimal resistance.

Restricting party-less aspirants is not an impossibility!But even more strategic is the preservation and protection of People Power by keeping out of legal reach of the NRM and the state. You can ban People Power a hundred times but Kyagulanyi &Co, being fond of quoting political adages, must be secretly reciting the one which says that you can stop invading armies, but not an idea whose time has come.

The Magere ‘Messiah’ – as his newfound admirer,  President Museveni’s long-serving adviser Al Hajji Nasser Ntege Sebaggala describes Kyagulanyi – must be readying to convince prominent personalities who have already expressed the desire to join People Power, that there is no contradiction paused by the launch of NUP.

The launch of NUP is most likely just a legal convenience. Nobody would trade away an attractive force like People Power to an unknown NUP whose chance of winning ten parliamentary seats are still quite slim. The power is in People Power and the political animal in Kyagulanyi would not let it out of his control easily.In the coming months, opinion surveys will be conducted by different organizations and it will be interesting to see how the hitherto known presidential aspirants are ranked by the public.

Even more interesting would be a peep into the NRM’s surveys which don’t just rely on samples but on actual numbers. Armed with exercise books, NRM grassroots operatives will go and establish the party’s support in real terms, checking all the people on a given village, not samples. It would also be interesting to know if People Power doesn’t conduct such surveys!     

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