Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Uganda: Don't miss the message in opinion polls

Today, The New Vision newspaper has published an opinion poll that gives incumbent President Yoweri Museveni 71% of the total vote if elections were held a few weeks ago. The poll says Dr Kizza Besigye who is competing with Museveni for a fourth time would get 19% followed by Amama Mbabazi, a long time confidant of Museveni now turned political opponent, 6%. Uganda will elect president and members of parliament on February 18.

As usual the NRM supporters are celebrating the poll results as the opposition are dismissing the opinion poll as fabricated and out of anger some opposition faithfuls are burning copies of the New Vision newspaper.

Well, I think this is the trouble we have with the so-called opposition fanatics in this country. Burning a newspaper that publishes an opinion poll is just missing the point. An opinion poll is simply an opinion; scientific study expressed in figures. It conveys a message. Whether accurate or not, the message is clearly put in the people's responses. The task is; if your supporters are according to opinion poll are fewer, simple, just devise measures of increasing them. Address the issues pointed out in the opinion poll. Otherwise, as they always say, figures don't lie.

Being cry babies won't increase your support. I have been to many rural areas in Uganda. The bitter truth is: political opposition candidates are not visible in many places.

Yes, I understand the circumstances and environment in which Uganda's political opposition operate in. But it is self-defeating to think that the level of political awareness and access to information in urban areas is the same as in among rural folks. The opposition politicians are just very thin among the grassroots. So you should be working on entrenching yourselves among the grassroots under the prevailing environment of unleveled electoral ground instead of burning a newspaper that publishes the message in an opinion poll. Surely, you can do better than that instead of living in denial.

Yesterday the Observer newspaper published a story that 91 parliamentary seats (out of more than 405 seats) have no opposition candidates in the forthcoming February 18 elections. In other-words, the ruling NRM party has already 9 MPs in the 10th parliament unopposed even before we go to polls; and is assured of other 82 MP seats being competed for by NRM candidates Vs NRM independent candidates. This is telling a lot about the strength of the political opposition in Uganda. How do you begin dismissing an opinion poll for someone in any of the areas where 91 parliamentary seats are being contested by NRM official candidates and NRM unofficial candidates?

Point is: concentrate on the message in the opinion poll. Besides this is not the first opinion polls giving more or less the same results. So, look for the message in the opinion polls. Burning the messenger is clearly not the best of options you have. It is missing the message in an opinion poll.

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