This Friday Uganda will be holding their elections. The last months/years have been full of campaigning and, dare I say bribing? The current president has been in power for 25 years and intends to stay in power. Posters of his head are plastered over every market stall, temporary tin wall, power poll and even hanging on string from trees.
Museveni has done a lot for Uganda. He brought stability and peace after decades of war, set up free primary and then secondary education open to all and opened commerce and trade. There are many who are eternally thankful for the change he brought and don't see a need to change. There are others who have appreciated what Museveni has accomplished but believe it's time for a new perspective. And then there are those who have nothing good to say about the president.
I, for one, am ready for the election season to be over. I'm tired of the lorry trucks cruising around with their speaker systems hooked up yelling out voting messages, empty promises and many times propaganda. Many newspaper articles are slanted to support Museveni (no surprise really when he controls them). And everyone is speculating on the course of peace the elections will play out.
The president is not the only person being elected. Members of Parliament and local government are also up for election. I was recently visiting another area where a Local Chairman was talking to a group of villagers. At the end of his long speech he began handing out money. I saw one woman with a baby get 20,000 UGX which is about $10. She started screaming and dancing through the crowd. There are signs and commercials everywhere about not letting people buy your vote. I don't think those campaigning have taken this seriously. Does this happen in the States? Sure it does, but in a private setting. You would never see Obama at a rally passing out $50 bills - though if he did I would want to be at that rally. Corruption is everywhere but the visibility of it in Uganda is still a hard thing to face.
And so, we've entered the last few days of campaigning. The presidential hopefuls have brought themselves to Kampala to do their last big rallies. The electoral commission continues to promise free and fair elections. Ugandans await the public holiday they will receive so that they can go vote. And I hope and pray for peace.