Majority of Ugandans are still ambivalent on whether or not and when President should step down from leadership of the country, a new opinion poll has established.
The poll conducted by Research World International which was unveiled today in Kampala found that a staggering 25% of respondents in the study were undecided when asked when they thought President Yoweri Museveni should step down from office.
The research sampled the views of 2,321 Ugandans in different parts of the country. It was conducted in the month of March this year, just before the country entered the Covid19 shut down.
Dr Patrick Wakida, the CEO RWI while presenting the findings at Skyz Hotel in Kampala, said the participants were mostly drawn from rural Uganda and that the majority had not attained high levels of education.
According to the report, when asked on the right time for President Museveni to leave office, 20% of the respondents said he should leave now.
Meanwhile, 15% said he should leave next year 2021, 19% said 2026, while 21% said he should never step down. The majority however, (25%) said they were undecided on the matter.
Ironically, the study found that most of the respondents (60%) were still unhappy with Parliament’s decision in late 2017 to amend Article 102(b) of the constitution to get rid of the Presidential age limit.
The amendment now means that President Museveni (who has already been nominated by his party), has a chance to extend his rule to 40years.
President Museveni was also shown in the poll edging all his major contenders in terms of support.
Up to 47% of the respondents said in the study that they would vote for Museveni if the elections were to be held then (March).
Only 22% said they’d vote for Robert Kyagulanyi; 11% said they’d vote for Kizza Besigye, while Norbert Mao and Mugisha Muntu shared a percentage point each. Some 11% said they were undecided.
The majority of the respondents (80%) also happened to subscribe to the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party, while only 9 % leaned to the People Power Movement and 6% said they belonged to the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).
On matters of Uganda’s economic prospects, the study found confidence levels to be low.
Asked to describe their current living conditions, only 1% said it was very good. 10% said it was very bad, 29% said it was bad, 40% said it was neither good nor bad while 20% said it was good.
“It appears from the study that only a small percentage of our population feels that the country’s economy is moving in the right direction,” Wakida said.
As to whether the respondents were confident that the economy would improve in the future, 34 % said they were not sure, 40% said yes while 26 percent said no.
There was also small improvement in the public confidence in the Electoral Commission’s ability to arrange a free and fair election, as 42% said they had confidence in the body. This is up from 40% in RWI’s previous poll.
On the question of freedom of expression, only 18% of the respondents said they felt ‘very free’ to express their political opinions publicly; 37% said they felt ‘somewhat free,’ while 25% said they were not free.
Opposition speaks out
The research findings however, were challenged by some members of the opposition who said they didn’t properly mirror the views of Ugandans.
FDC spokesperson Semujju Nganda said the figures from the research were “contradictory.”
“On one hand you have majority of the people telling you they don’t feel free to discuss political matters publicly, and here you are asking them what they feel” Semujju retorted.
Hon Alice Alaso, the Secretary General of ANT also shared similar sentiments, noting that the views in the study could have been impacted by the factor of fear.
“Some people fear they could get arrested; the level of liberation has not reached deep in rural Uganda,” she said.
Alaso however acknowledged that the ruling NRM government has a bigger membership in the rural parts because its cards are free and it is more entrenched in the LC system.