Several election news reports in Uganda suggest that President Museveni might cheat openly in the elections on February 18th. However, I believe that he could garner the most votes, even without cheating openly. That is because, as I understand, his 2016 election-cheating infrastructure was in place as far back as 2013. That infrastructure could be enough for him to win on February 18th, if he allowed the elections to appear free and fair.
A few poll results from public and private sources making the rounds on the Internet and among political strategists in Uganda, show Kiiza Besigye with a big lead over Museveni. Some of these polls suggest that respondents believe that the US Embassy and the European Union’s mission in Kampala could be involved in the February 18th elections.
Baganda statisticians, who are not connected to any Ugandan presidential elections or other candidates, provided more-believable poll results, because they used a statistical model that was custom-designed for the unique situation of Buganda and Uganda. I will refer to their survey and results as the “Baganda Study,” and I will share those parts that someone acquainted with those statisticians shared with me.
According to the Baganda Study, Museveni had invested a vast amount of money in his multi-year election-rigging machinery by 2013. This could have given him a stolen win in the 2016, even under supervision by the UN or EU.
The Baganda Study explains why other polls in Uganda generally show that Museveni is likely to lose. Those polls rely on western-statistical models that work in civilized democracies but make little sense in Museveni’s Uganda. As an example, western surveys may be assuming that respondents do not fear telling the truth; that respondents are qualified voters; and that votes cannot be bought, in Uganda, where they can go for as little as US$ 2 each.
The Baganda Study identified 10 key findings to support its conclusion that Museveni could win in 2016 without cheating openly, even if an independent organization supervised the exercise. I will summarize 4 of those 10 key findings in the conclusion by the Baganda statisticians:
The Baganda Study’s statisticians used a truly-advanced statistical methodology, and I believe that their research presents the most credible projections. The study specifically says that even if Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), the UN or the EU supervised the elections, Museveni could probably garner the most votes, in the 45%-60% range.
In the case of a run-off, Amama Mbabazi and his supporters already know that an FDC government can hurt them and their wealth more than Museveni’s. So, they would most likely vote Museveni and guarantee his final victory because of that English axiom: Better the devil you know.
The Baganda Study warns that even though Museveni could win without cheating openly, his election machinery could, out of habit, steal votes and engage in the usual voter intimidation, making large-scale violence highly likely. It points out that, when Mmengo permitted the big ideological vacuum; that is, while Mmengo sent mixed messages about Federo in Buganda, it had surrenderd its ability to guide and protect Baganda lives if violence broke out.
The Baganda Study also says that Kiiza Besigye knows that he cannot win, because Museveni already “stole the elections” more than two years ago. However, he appears convinced that the emotional nature of Ugandans, especially Baganda, would help to start a “people power” revolution which can create a major security incident in Buganda and provoke Museveni into undertaking a stupid act, such as shooting live ammunition into crowds in Kampala—with cameras rolling.
In conclusion, I believe the Baganda Study shows that Museveni and his team could win by cheating openly and intimidating the opposition during the 2016 elections. Although Museveni could win the 2016 presidential elections in an independently conducted election, cheating and voter intimidation by his team could create a high risk of large-scale violence in Buganda.