On Friday, National Unity Platform (NUP) Spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi announced that party leader Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu was scheduled to fly out of the country for official duties.
On the agenda, Bobi Wine is to interface with a number of African leaders to discuss the “party’s ambitions for freedom and democracy.”
“NUP President Hon. Kyagulanyi Ssentamu is leaving the country for a four day official working visit. While away, he will meet several leaders and fellow strugglists on the African continent in furtherance of our struggle for freedom and democracy,” Ssenyonyi posted on his social media pages.
As soon as the news of Bobi Wine’s travel became public, a debate on what could really be behind the move was ignited among a large section of NUP enthusiasts and regime apologists alike.
Whereas it is normal for Bobi Wine – a leader of a political party – to move out of the country at any time, the timing is all that has left many guessing.
It ought to be noted that President Yoweri Museveni is set to swear in for a sixth successive term in just a little over one month from now.
Bobi Wine, who came second in the January 14 election, has vehemently trashed the results which saw Museveni declared winner with 58 per cent, claiming that the Justice Simon Byabakama Electoral Commission (EC) had “shamelessly” rigged in favor of the incumbent.
He went as far as challenging the results in the Supreme Court, only to withdraw the petition later after accusing the nine-member panel of judges of bias.
He had earlier on demanded the head of the panel, Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny Dollo, to recuse from hearing his case, a prayer the CJ declined to grant.
Subsequently, Bobi Wine called on the public to take charge and serve themselves justice in reclaiming their ‘electoral victory’ which he claims was robbed of him in broad day light.
He thus demanded that the public takes the lead by pouring onto the streets to force Museveni out of office in peaceful protests.
A fortnight ago, the NUP leader was arrested along with a handful of officials from his party while attempting to stage peaceful protests in the City Centre.
He was briefly detained at Central Police Station (CPS) in Kampala before being escorted to his residence in Magere, Wakiso District.
Having made it clear on a number of occasions that he will not let Museveni swear in, later alone finish his five-year term of Presidency, the suspicions from the public are genuinely sensible.
Could Bobi Wine be out to plot an uprising?
Before it becomes clear which countries in Africa he will be visiting, the answer will for the time being be largely speculative.
Over the past decade or so, the African continent – more so the North – has seen regime changes orchestrated by mass uprisings, bring down governments in Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, and most recently Sudan.
Whereas this brand of activism has for the past couple of years been identified with the Arab-dominated North, the mass action that forced an election rerun in Malawi speaks otherwise.
Weeks of mass protests in Lilongwe and other major cities such as Zomba, Mangochi, and Blantyre finally broke President Peter Mutharika’s resolve to hold onto power and, resultantly, gave way to a new Lazarus Chakwera regime.
The developments in Malawi washed away the belief that protests causing regime change are a thing for the North, more so with regards that the country shares borders with Tanzania, Uganda’s neighbor in the South.
So, if Bobi Wine visits one of the above countries, he could possibly be out to seek advice on how to successfully plan, coordinate and execute a deadly regime changing protests.
These, he would return and seek to replicate back home to cause a continuous headache for Museveni until he is finally brought down.
Can Museveni be defeated through an uprising?
The power of mass action in causing regime change in the recent past can no longer be underestimated.
Bigger military powers like Egypt, Tunisia, and Sudan have watched helplessly as their masters got crushed in weeks and months of never ending mass protests.
As such, such a consideration comes with all the due fears and concerns.
As things stand at the moment, however, the chances for such moves to prosper in Uganda are at their lowest.
Going by the electoral trends in the just concluded elections, NUP – the most dominant opposition political group – only enjoyed mass support from Buganda and some bits of Busoga.
Having won in just one of the five regions, one would be right to claim NUP is an ethnic-based movement that has failed to attract the support of the rest of the country.
As such, the rest of the country is expected to spectate as such protests are being staged.
This would give the security forces an excuse to crush the participants as an ethnic uprising, rather than a general resistance against the government.
Besides that, the recent indifference of the public towards appeals by Bobi Wine to demonstrate could be a suggestion that the people have since accepted the outcome of the election and consequently moved on.
This means that the struggle is now an individual affair for Bobi Wine and a few officials at Kamwokya and not for the public.
This raises a pertinent question of whether even in Buganda, the masses would respond to calls to get onto the streets and cause regime change.
For such insurrections to succeed, the support of the army is an absolute necessity as demonstrated in the tail ends of successful African protests.
Unfortunately for Uganda, the army seems to be at good terms with the Museveni administration. This thus rules out the possibility of allying with the possible protesters to cause trouble for Museveni.
Lastly, the friction between Bobi Wine’s NUP supporters and those of Dr Kizza Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) seems to be a blessing in disguise for Museveni.
With the Bobi Wine camp accusing Besigye of being a regime apologist who has fooled the public for long and thus delayed the struggle, genuine FDC activists found a new enemy in Bobi Wine, one they consider worse than Museveni.
This, partly, explains why Northern Uganda that had voted for Besigye since 2001 opted for Museveni in 2021.
Yet the success of mass action needs a united opposition; thus, the current situation gives less hope for insurrection.
In conclusion, however, there are no winners and losers whatsoever during war. The sure result would be loss of lives, destruction of property, families, rape to women, collapse of institutions and general suffering.
As such, calls for resolving political questions with political solutions seem to be the better option.