Uganda will amend the constitution and remove age limit easily because the NRM party has an overwhelming 82% majority in parliament. Then Museveni will win the 2021 presidential elections because his opponents have consistently failed to learn the basic principle of marketing – product differentiation.
The best strategy for Museveni’s critics is to differentiate themselves from him. If his coalition is old, theirs must be young. If he is forceful, they must be persuasive. If he is corrupt, they must be honest. If he is intolerant, they must be accommodating. Where he is incompetent, they must exhibit effectiveness. Since he has a warrior brand, theirs must be a reconciliatory brand.
But alas, instead of brand differentiation, opposition activists have chosen to be a “me too product” – that is to say, they have chosen to mimic Museveni. Always remember that most people will prefer originals to photocopies. People will buy a pirated copy only because it is cheap in price. The problem is that there is no price to pay for supporting Museveni, only potential benefits. There are no immediate benefits to gain supporting the opposition, only high costs. This is why Museveni keeps winning, the opposition keeps whining.
Thus in terms of product positioning, opposition activists have failed the first hurdle. They have deluded themselves into the belief that they occupy a moral high ground. That they are the only ones who care about the future of Uganda. That anyone who disagrees with their radical extremism is an enemy of Uganda who must be destroyed. In the process, they are making Museveni look much more accommodating.
Look at Museveni’s strategy: for him, you are either against him or with him. That means Museveni considers anyone who is lukewarm or silent an ally, or the very least a potential ally. For opposition activists, the opposite holds: you are either with them or against them. That means those who are lukewarm or have not yet fully formed their view on age limit are enemies they must fight and destroy.
Thus, while Museveni’s strategy unites, the opposition strategy divides; and while Museveni’s strategy is accommodating, the opposition strategy is alienating. With enemies like these opposition activists, Museveni doesn’t need any friends at all. They have appointed themselves his campaign managers.
Andrew Mwenda is a Kampala-based journalist, media owner, political and economic commentator