As presidential campaigns gain momentum, four Makerere University professors have warned candidates to ignore politics of the crowds arguing that crowds rarely translate into votes.
The main talk on social media, streets, Radios, Televisions and in newspapers is the “political crowds talk.”
2016 presidential campaigns has become a battle for crowds.
The skirmishes for mammoth crowds have at times degenerated into “photoshoped crowds” as camps struggle to put their candidate at the forefront of pulling swarms of people.
At his first rally in Rukungiri Besigye pulled huge supporters but some of his diehards felt unsatisfied hence manipulating a photo of Tanzania opposition presidential candidate in the recently concluded elections Edward Lowassa campaign crowds to present it as Besigye rally.
NRM manipulated the same photo and presented it as Museveni rally in Luweero.
Red Pepper thought for the opinions of two Makerere University political science dons; Prof Sabiiti Makara and Prof Murindwa Rutanga.
The paper also contacted Prof. Mwambutsya Ndebesa a historian and Oweyegha-Afunaduula, a retired professor and politician.
Mind game plans by the politicians
Prof Sabiiti Makara, a political scientist at Makerere University opines that crowds are mind game plans by the politicians.
“The question of crowds is a psychological issue. One, it convinces someone to change to your side especially when they see you with these numbers, so you cannot underestimate them. However the crowds can be deceptive. Any ordinary citizen must not take them seriously.”
Like Afunaduula, Makara argues that crowds are being manufactured as people are ferried to attend rallies.
He argues that this is very worse because someone’s agents can easily take someone’s money and eventually claim they are working for them.
Voters do not go to rallies
According to Political Science professor Murindwa Rutanga, the crowds are not real voters and there are many reasons people go to rallies.
“Most of those who don’t go there (rallies) as voters, some who go there are unemployed and have nothing to do, others go there for entertainment, I mean it is fanfare,” he argues.
He however says that it can be serious in rural setting.
“If it is in country side, then it is another story. Especially where there are no towns and people have a lot of things to do in the villages, so if you find such numbers in the village then they should be believed in,”
Do crowds mean Votes?
Makerere University historian Prof. Mwambutsya Ndebesa says that for crowds to be turned into votes presidential candidates’ need an “organizational structure to push people from their fields and homes to go and vote.”
He opines that if there is no such infrastructure, the turn out during elections may not be as high as crowds where people have come to just waste time at rallies.
Why are politicians obsessed with crowds?
Oweyegha-Afunaduula, a retired Makerere professor and politician says that politicians are by nature fascinated with crowds.
“Those who steal elections can use crowds to cover up their acts and say our candidate was popular during the campaigns.
Didn’t you see everywhere he/she went he/she was overwhelmed by crowds?”
He says crowds should not be used to judge popularity.
“If they are genuine crowds, people are going to hear what the candidates are saying that will affect and change their lives for the better. With President Museveni, if we ignore that he transports people from elsewhere to beef up his crowds, those who go to him want to hear what new promises he is going to make.”