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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:

  1. About 30% of Ugandans, especially in Buganda and urban areas, readily lie to pollsters. Nearly 50% of Baganda women interviewed, between ages 40 and 60 who have a 12th grade or lower education, fear that if Museveni goes, male domination might rise again in Buganda’s cultural institutions, such as Mmengo, clans, the family and, so on. They seem to believe that Museveni is the most reliable protector of the social independence they have acquired over the past 30 years. Over 70% privately admit that they are highly likely to vote for Museveni to protect their new-found freedom and economic opportunities. However, when asked individually by poll takers and in many social settings, they lied readily.
  1. The voter register and national ID systems have huge, built-in advantages for Museveni. Based on Uganda’s profile; with approximately 55% of the 35 million population below voting age and considering the typical election participation in East Africa, the Uganda Electoral Commission’s claim that it has registered 15 million voters is not credible. At least 1 million individuals secretly put on voter rolls are Sudanese, Congolese, Tanzanians and Rwandese. They will inevitably vote for Museveni because they believe he will protect them from deportation.
  1. Museveni has successfully positioned himself to be free from Mmengo’s ideological demands (e.g. Federo, etc.). This  encouraged a “Nfunamu ki?” (What’s in it for me?) attitude among Baganda which, in turn, could reduce the turnout of anti-Museveni voters, especially if NRM operatives make regular threats, and the fear of violence keeps rising.
  1. Threats of violence, from Museveni himself, Kakooza Mutale, Justine Lumumba Kasule, Kale Kayihura, Katumba Wamala and others achieve the desired effect—they put terror in people’s hearts and may cause many to vote fear rather than choice. The youth, aged between 15 and 19, who attend campaigns in hordes, appear immune to these threats. However, about 50% of them are either below voting age or never registered and cannot vote. On the other hand, women with children can and are much more likely to vote for Museveni to avoid “too much change.”  And a majority of them are so mentally terrorized that they even consider voting Museveni out “too much change” (which can place their children in danger).

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.

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