Director’s Take: Uganda’s Presidential Elections
February 22, 2011
As elections have consumed Uganda over the last few weeks, many supporters and colleagues have inquired as to my thoughts about the elections and who I may/may not be supporting. Followers of Building Tomorrow know that we work hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Education and the Vice President of Uganda’s office to successfully pull off our model which heavily involves both local communities and government authorities in the form of paying for the cost of some materials and teacher salaries.
The incumbent President, Yoweri Museveni (or M7 as the Ugandan press refer to him), won the election with just over 68% of the vote according to the Ugandan Electoral Commission. Kizza Besigye, M7’s former personal physician and three-time opponent in presidential elections didn’t fare well, finishing with 26%. Many advocates for change, perhaps too optimistically, were hoping that M7 and Besigye (the most prominent challenger) would each register under 50% of the vote, forcing the two into a run-off.
I’m a believer that no matter who is in power, the government, through the Ministry of Education, is a key stake-holder that must be involved in the work of Building Tomorrow. Many Ugandans have seemingly grown anxious as neighboring countries such as Rwanda have made significant strides in attracting outside investment and strengthening their infrastructure.
Unfortunately, the free and fair election bug hasn’t quite reached East Africa. Kenya’s most recent presidential elections were mired with massive amounts of violence, last year Paul Kagame claimed another seven-year term in Rwanda with 93% of the vote and M7’s recent numbers clear the way for him to be the longest ruling leader in Africa through 2016. I’ll be among the many applauding free and fair elections when they arrive, but in the mean time, BT and so many others must continue to find ways to work with those in power to advocate for positive social change.