In what many Ugandans have described as long-expected news, Ugandan pop star-turned-politician and opposition MP Bobi Wine has officially announced his intention to contest for president in the 2021 election.
He is expected to run against the incumbent President Yoweri Museveni from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party.
“On behalf of the people of Uganda I am challenging you [Mr Museveni] to a free and fair election in 2021,” Bobi Wine announced in Kampala, Uganda.
Mr Museveni has been in power for 33 years.
The 37-year-old Bobi Wine (born Robert Kyagulanyi), who calls himself the “ghetto President,” is not only Mr Museveni’s ardent critic, many Ugandans believe the singer is the most likely person to defeat President Museveni come 2021. It does not help that the Pop Star has a demographic advantage on his side. With more than 75% of Uganda’s population still youths, Bobi Wine, a celebrity, who portrays himself as the Messiah of the masses could tap on the youth’s appetite for change. Most of the youths demanding for change have never known any other President than Museveni, who has been in power before most of them were born.
But others who have been following the Museveni’s political journey have described the President as a political fox who knows how best to dilute his political challengers in politics silently and make them politically irrelevant. This group believes President Museveni is a very smart politician who is always not in a hurry to make any political moves. He first takes time to study his political challengers carefully, they argue, and allegedly, tries to make a seductive deal with them. They pointed out how, many heavyweight politicians like the former Prime Minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi, contested against President Museveni only to lose woefully. However, many Bobi Wine’s supporters argue that Mbabazi lost because many Ugandans regarded him as part of the old system; Bobi Wine, they insist, represents a new movement.
That may be true, but some critics are worried that mere popularity does not transcend to good leadership with a clear policy plan. These pundits believe Bobi Wine, whom President Museveni has labelled “a club singer” does not have a grasp of the economic policies or political plans to tackle mountainous challenges facing Uganda, especially, amongst the youth. It does not help that Bobi Wine has, so far not offered a tangible and convincing plan to solve these social problems he insists he wants to fix as President. But Bobi Wine defended his alleged lack of political experience and insisted there are enough intelligent Ugandans who can be appointed to tackle the social problems, while he leads the country.
On the other hand, some Ugandans have reiterated that they just want a new beginning – whether with Bobi Wine or any other person, except President Museveni. Perhaps, that wish may have given Bobi Wine the confidence to declare to contest against President Museveni. But the question is: Does Bobi Wine have the ability and capability to bring positive changes in the lives of many Ugandan youths, who look up to him as their saviour?
At the end of the day, Ugandans will have to decide what exactly they want: staying put with the alleged devil they know or dining with the Angel they don’t know well.