On the campaign trail seeking his sixth term in office, President Yoweri Museveni has enlisted the input of his 44-year-old daughter, a move that’s hoped to help him gain more support from the youthful voters in next year’s election.
Despite winning in all his 5 presidential contests since 1996, President Museveni has almost consistently struggled with especially the youth demographic that predominantly resides in urban areas.
The president’s support in Kampala and Wakiso districts for instance fell from 46 % and 49% in the 2011 election to 31% and 37% respectively in the last (2016) election.
Between blaming this below-average youth vote performance on unfocused NRM leaders and youth-unfriendly government agencies, Museveni has also been deeply involved in starting youth oriented economic empowerment programs in the urban areas.
He also endeavored to bring on board youth role models especially in the arts sector to champion these development programs.
But with his strongest contender this time being one of such urban youths himself, there is growing consensus among analysts that President Museveni will need to double his efforts to be able to see gains in the youth demographic.
It is conceivably because of this, that Museveni asked his daughter Natasha Karugire to join him on the campaign trail and add her rare voice to his message.
The First Daughter has had stints in fashion, film – at one time producing a movie that charts her father’s journey from being a rebel leader to President; — and more recently in tourism.
Her effect on the campaign has mostly focused on social media where she’s sought to portray her father as mortal and down-to-earth family man.
Be it holding hands and smiling in bright campaign attire, or taking a stroll outside a local hotel in Karamoja, or interviewing the president about his poor English accent or lack of singing talent, the pictures and video clips have largely had positive reception on social media, often diverting attention from the toxicity of the election campaign season.
We take a break from campaigns today being Sunday, and before our prayers, the Namagunga Lady is taunting me for being “kicked out” of the choir. pic.twitter.com/YNRjAhn9ew
— Yoweri K Museveni (@KagutaMuseveni) December 6, 2020
“Your Excellence it really feels good with your daughter and we’re loving the human side of you she’s showing us,” posted one Twitter user.
And while Mrs Natasha’s contribution will be gauged in next year’s election results, political pundits believe this is a step in the right direction for the president.
Political economic analyst Andrew Mwenda who is an ardent fan of the president’s efforts to transform Uganda’s economy, thinks his biggest undoing has been the disconnect between his policies and the youth population.
“Museveni’s failure is not one of economic performance but inability to marry his economic performance with political mobilization,” Mwenda said on a radio talk show yesterday.
“He needs to connect with young people and show them that he is working for them instead of him going on TV and saying ‘I am working for myself and my family.’ Some of these are self-inflicted wounds by the president.”
“He just needs to position himself as a person who is a cool grandpa who appeals to young people and listens to their concerns,” Mwenda added.