During the Capital Gang radio talk show on 91.3 Capital FM on Saturday 21st February 2015 the gangsters discussed the strength of political parties in Uganda on the basis of voter turnout and the numbers who vote – over all and for each candidate. The gangsters who are opposition leaning (non-ruling party) asserted that the ruling party was weak because the number of Ugandans who bother to vote is reducing every election since 1996; and the reason they gave was that this is because Ugandans are increasingly dissatisfied with the ruling National Resistance Movement Organisation (NRMO). The NRMO leaning gangsters to prove the strength of their political party insisted on pointing out the numbers of NRMO members of parliament; the numbers of NRMO local councillors; and the increase in the number of Ugandans who vote at every election and who vote for Candidate Yoweri Kagguta Museveni (YKM) of NRMO.
Numbers are problematic in this particular discourse. In the 2001 election 5,123 360 (five million one hundred and twenty three thousand three hundred and sixty) Ugandans voted for Candidate YKM; this represented 69.4 percent of Ugandans who voted; of whom those who voted were 69.7 percent of Ugandans who were eligible to vote. Ten years later, in the 2011 election 5,428,368 (five million four hundred and twenty eight thousand three hundred and sixty eight) Ugandans voted for Candidate YKM; this represented 68.38 percent of Ugandans who voted; of whom those who voted were 59.29 percent of Ugandans who were eligible to vote. Using numbers, for example, the assertion of the opposition leaning gangsters would be nullified for after all 305,008 (three hundred five thousand and eight) Ugandans more voted for Candidate YKM in 2011 as compared to 2001. However, arriving at such a conclusion is superficial because the numbers who voted for Candidate YKM do not indicate those who did not vote for him. Therefore, it is probably more useful to debate Candidate YKM’s political strength and by extension the political strength of NRMO using percentages.
Percentages help visualise proportions for and against. For example by using percentages we confirm the thesis of the opposition leaning gangsters that there is a reduction in the numbers of Ugandans who bother to vote – in 1996 the turnout was 72.6 percent of eligible voters; in 2001 it reduced by 2.9 percent to 69.7 percent; and ten years later it significantly reduced by another 10.41 percent to only 59.29 percent. However, can we conclusively deduce that reduction in voter turnout necessarily means weakening of the NRMO? Asked another way, whose voters are not turning out to vote – is it the supporters of NRMO or the supporters of the opposition who have the greatest apathy?
Continuing with those who voted for Candidate YKM in 2001 and 2011, using percentages, one clearly sees that there was a reduction in Candidate YKM voter base by one percent; and, therefore, a de facto gain by the opposition. In fact in comparison to the 1996 election, Candidate YKM’s strength can be deduced to have weakened significantly by 7.1 percent; de facto indicating that since 1996 the opposition has gained strengthen.
What is fascinating however, is that the opposition gains seem decimated by the oppositions inability to form alliances that allow for a single or at most two ‘strong’ men to compare with Candidate YKM; meaning that the opposition’s gains are splintered among several ‘weaker’ men. During the 2006 election Presidential Candidate Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) garnered 37.39 percent of the vote; an impressive showing indeed. What happened in 2011 when his percentage reduced by 11.38 percent to only 26.01 percent? Apparently, according to percentages, in 2011 Candidate YKM regained by 9.12 percent the voters he had lost in 2006; a major blow to the opposition gains.