Singer and opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine has for the first time publicly hinted at running for President in the coming general elections in 2021.
Bobi Wine launched his political bid in 2017 when he ran for a Parliamentary seat in a by-election in Kyadondo East constituency near the capital, Kampala.
The singer won the election in a landslide victory after polling 25,659 votes (77%) out of 32,999 votes cast while his closest rival, Sitenda Sebalu of the ruling NRM party polled 4,556 and FDC’s Apollo Kantinti scored 1,832.
Since then, the Afropop singer has mounted pressure on President Yoweri Museveni’s government, rallying his followers, many of them youths to use their numbers and power change leadership. Bobi Wine, 36, would later coin his ‘People Power’ slogan under which he challenges Ugandans to put an end to a status quo he says only works for a few.
In subsequent by-elections in different parts of Uganda, Bobi Wine threw his weight behind opposition candidates and used his popularity as a musician to draw in numbers. He was among the leegislators that challenged the controversial amendments of the Constitution which repealed the Presidential age limit in 2017.
However, while the Kyadondo East legislator continues to gain popularity among those that seek a new government, he has consistently declined to reveal whether he will run against Museveni. Some political analysts have argued the singer needs more time to build a political career while some say he stands no chance to win Museveni who has led Uganda for over three decades.
On Thursday, while speaking to CNN, Bobi Wine said he is considering running for President.
“We have been discussing this issue with my team and I must say my team and I are seriously considering challenging President Museveni in the next Presidential election,” Bobi Wine said.
“Ugandans cannot be free unless they free themselves from military rule and lawless rule,” he said.
In recent weeks, Bobi Wine has stressed the need for Ugandans to register themselves and acquire national identity cards, in what seems like another calculated strategy to prepare for his Presidential bid.
During his Kyarenga concert held at his One Love beach in Busabala in November last year, Wine kept reminding the crowd, many of them youth, to remain cautious of their individual responsibility in changing the status quo by reclaiming the country.
“As much as i love to sing and entertain you, and you get excited, do not let that excitement end here. We need to liberate ourselves,” Bobi Wine told the revelers.
He then hinted on the criticism he has received in recent months from those who question his ability to lead the country.
“The elites keep asking me ‘What are your policy alternatives?’ I say what matters is for the people to reclaim their power and once we are in charge, we can determine which direction we want our country to take”.
“Others ask me what their role in this struggle is. You have one role – to get a national identity card,” Bobi Wine went on to say to the cheering crowd.
He said that the only way young people can stop being spectators in the electoral process as has been the pattern in recent general elections, is for each one of them to acquire a national identity card.
“Get a national I.D. We are only left with two years and we shall show them what we are capable of come 2021. Whatever we do minus getting an I.D doesn’t count”.
He repeated the call on Thursday in his CNN interview.
“We started a campaign calling upon all people of Uganda, especially the young people that have been so apathetic to go ahead and register themselves and be voters. Not just supporters but voters.”
“We believe that by the time we get to the election which is about two years away, we will have many Ugandans registered as voters and overwhelming Museveni looks like our only way out,” he said.
The closer the country draws to the 2021 elections, the more it gets difficult to predict with certainty how events will play out, particularly within the opposition. In the recent past, there have been efforts by the opposition to unify themselves although in some other older parties like UPC and FDC, divisions remain evident.
The possibility of forming a coalition to front one candidate is also unlikely. But for Bobi Wine, a popular musician who seems to enjoy popularity among youths and whose campaign some have said involves invisible actors from the U.S, the odds are to a large extent in his favor.