Opposition politics and democracy in the era of Covid-19

By Charles Motsi

The Covid-19 pandemic has surely turned the world on its head in every aspect imaginable, be it economically, socially and even the politics has been affected.   The world now waits to see what will be left of people’s lives after this unfortunate global phenomenon, if and when it ever subsides.

Sitting (more like hiding) at home and left with not much to do, but be glued to one’s television set, for most of the time, two names have been the loudest in the oppositional politics arena in the last three months. 

Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu popularly known by his stage name Bobi Wine made headlines in Uganda as he was poised, by western countries, to unseat veteran Yoweri Museveni, as the Ugandan president. Unfortunately, this was not to be as Museveni won the election with little bother from his youthful contender, or is it pretender, and his National Unity Platform party.

The other prominent name to make headlines was that of Russian opposition leader, Alexei Anatolievich Navalny, who leads the Russia of the Future Party. Navalny was allegedly poisoned last year and had been receiving medical treatment in Germany, until early this year, when he decided to go back to Russia as his popularity was starting to dwindle.

Though they are based and operate in two different continents one cannot miss the glaring similarities in the two man’s modus operandi. It’s almost as if they are reading from the same script or have the same puppet master pulling on their strings in one grand plan. One of these similarities is the over reliance on social media popularity and statistics while forgetting to be more practical and in touch with reality.

Bobi Wine celebrated having one million Twitter followers on the eve of the election as if these would directly translate to real life votes, it did not. Navalny has 2.5 million followers on Twitter and he routinely calls on them to get into the streets and protest against one thing or another. Unfortunately again for him his online popularity has never translated to real life support capable of unseating incumbent Vladimir Putin.

Both men seem to be darlings of western media that has nothing bad to say about them. When their profiles are reported on the usual western media pulpits, the BBCs,  CNNs, France24s and Reuters of this world one is left with the portrayal of Jesus Christ-like character of these mortal men. This alone begs the question why such positive media coverage on opposition movements at the expense of ruling persons and their administrations.

In Uganda, President Museveni’s media and communication teams had their accounts blacklisted by Facebook and Twitter because they were deemed to be spreading propaganda. This same yardstick was not applied to the likes of Bobi and his cronies who also use the same social media platforms to spread lies on their own governments and their leaders. So when Museveni blocked all social media before the election,  he was accused of suppressing people’s freedom of expression, but he was just responding to an evil done to him by western-run and backed outlets who wanted him to lose.

The same is true in Russia, where President Putin is constantly being accused of blocking free speech and association through social media. The same people who accuse him of this forget that RussiaToday, an outlet which is favourable to Putin’s policies has been banned from operating and broadcasting in Britain and its journalists constantly harassed in the USA. So where is the justice when opposition leaders are given a free pass and ruling party leaders who not favoured by the West are penalised?

So even during the Covid-19 era opposition politics remain the darlings of the West and are constantly seeking western approval, maybe this is because that is where most of their funds come from and they are only playing the tune as played by their pied piper. How else can one explain the fact that these opposition leaders claim to be living in economically desperate nations that are being mismanaged,  whilst they themselves live in luxury mansions driving the best vehicles and enjoying themselves. It’s the money they get from selling out their own kind that sustains them.

If the West cared so much about democracy, they would have refused to host Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi who is on a tour of Europe. The man has at least 60 documented journalists rotting in his prisons, but because they financially benefit from him they say nothing when he visits their countries. While one Hopewell Chin’ono is jailed for actually doing something wrong their western embassies are quick to point to human rights and freedoms, they themselves do not practise.

Covid-19 may have changed a lot in our day-to-day lives, but as far as democracy and the West’s love for puppet opposition is concerned, nothing much has changed.