Reality Check: The Ugandan 2021 Presidential Vote and Tourism
Uganda is Welcoming Visitors- but then there are the January 2021 Elections.
The Ugandan 2021 Presidential Election and Tourism: Visiting Uganda Safely on Safari with Political Storm Clouds on the Horizon from now until the January 14, 2021 Election. President Yoweri Museveni is running for 6th Term in Office, having led the country since 1986. Ten candidates are vying to be president of Uganda. Uganda just opened for International Tourism in October of 2020 after the COVID-19 country lock-down. The political Storm Clouds ahead on top of the COVID-19 pandemic all influence tourism and those wanting to visit Uganda on a Safari.
This Election Season, the leading Opposition Candidates are campaigning against President Museveni is Bobi Wine, the youthful, 38-year-old Politician, Parliamentarian, Singer, and Songwriter Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine.
Bobi Wine has become internationally famous by being regularly arrested by the Police and security forces. One could argue that the government has made Bobi Wine an international hero. Someone missed that the more Pharaoh afflicted the Children of Israel, the more they multiplied.
Uganda has spent a lot of money on promoting tourism. It even has geared up its Embassies worldwide to carry the Banner of the Pearl of Africa. All that is negated by a few thoughtless arrests of Bobi Wine. Those images stick with potential visitors deciding whether to trek Gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda, affecting Uganda in terms of jobs, revenue, permits, and lodging lost. Political Campaigns can be conducted satisfactorily for all Ugandans, no matter their political disposition.
This is not an article about Ugandan politics, we are not political analysts, we just know what affects the perception that people around have about Uganda, and how a few news images can move potential Visitors to Uganda to look elsewhere.
In 2020 we have seen COVID-19 and the havoc it has brought. Now as the country has reopened there are the Political Storm Clouds. We have had some of our clients ask for advice regarding their upcoming Safari. The Security and Safety of our Clients are one of our Concerns and Hakuna Matata – no worry Safaris is what we want for our Clients.
Winston Churchill had it right when he wrote in 1908 “The People are Different.” Ugandans in 2019 are still that, they are welcoming and friendly, part of Ugandan hospitality dictates that one keeps guests to one’s house safe from harm, which is the attitude most Ugandans have toward Tourists, no matter what they might believe politically.
International News Headlines “Scenes of Total Chaos after Ugandan Opposition Arrested Again.” (Al Jazeera)
The Ugandan 2021 Presidential Election and Tourism: Protests have erupted in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, after police arrested presidential candidate Bobi Wine in the east of the country. The musician-turned-opposition leader said on Twitter on Wednesday, November 18, police violently broke into his vehicle in the town of Luuka and took him into custody.
Officials accused him of violating coronavirus restrictions while out campaigning for next year’s presidential election. After news of the arrest reached the capital, Bobi Wine’s supporters blocked roads and burned tires, prompting police to fire tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters.
Since expressing his intention to run in the election against long-ruling President Yoweri Museveni, Bobi Wine – whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi – has been arrested multiple times. He has won a large following, especially among young people in the East African country, where general elections are scheduled in January 2021. Bobi Wine’s large following has rattled the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). Security forces have frequently fired tear gas at his rallies and detained and beaten his supporters, witnesses say.
Similar news reports were given by BBC, Voice of America, CNN, Deutsche Welle, France-24, Reuters, Associated Press, and others. Reports that distort Uganda’s image worldwide. The safest place to be in Uganda is on a safari.
Visiting Uganda Safely on Safari with Political Storm Clouds of a Presidential Election on the Horizon
Ugandan 2021 Presidential Election and Tourism: Contrary to what you might have read on CNN, BBC, Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera, even Reuters. Uganda for Tourists remains stable, safe, and secure. The Safest Place to be is on a Safari with a Ugandan Tour Operator such as we who live and work here, who know Uganda beyond headlines.
What we do to keep you Safe and Secure during Election:
- We use secure Hotels in Kampala, away from any area where demonstrations have taken place or are likely to take place.
- The Present Road system allows us to bypass Kampala as we head for key Tourist Destinations.
- We organize Flying Safaris from Entebbe to Major parks for those that want to bypass Kampala. That costs.
- We give our clients the option of flying into Kigali Rwanda and Trekking Gorillas in Uganda with the possibility of flying out of Entebbe.
- If you happen to be on your own in Kampala or any town where a political demonstration is taking place – we suggest
- Take any issued Travel Advisories seriously (there are none for Uganda from either the US or UK presently)
- Do not photograph police, military personnel, government buildings, or protests.
- Stay aware of your surroundings and the people that are near and around you.
- No nighttime Driving from Entebbe to Kampala – we keep our Clients in Entebbe if they arrive at night. This is beyond what the UK or US suggests for its citizens.
- Avoid Political Discussions in Public Places and make no disparaging comments about the government, opposition candidates, etc.
Safety and Security Measures that we take away from Kampala in Parks
- While you are on a Safari with us, we continuously monitor Safety and Security Conditions.
- No movement on foot without an armed Ranger escort-outside of park stay with your driver-guide, this includes Gorilla, Chimpanzee, Golden Monkey Treks, Volcano Climbs, etc.
- No Driving in parks from 7:30 pm until 6:30 am.
- No wandering away from Lodge that is in the park or at the edge of it. There are wild animals, plus it avoids contacting poachers.
- No Game Drives without an armed ranger on board vehicle
- Have at least a copy of your passport in a daypack and your cell phone for all activities. Please turn it off on activities such as Gorilla Trekking.
- Boat Safaris, we encourage the use of a life vest.
- On a Family Safari, never let children be unattended.
- Dress for the occasion – gorilla, chimpanzee trek, hike, volcano climb – follow our suggestion. They are for your wellbeing.
- Use a porter whenever available such as for Gorilla Trekking.
- Do not wear Camouflage clothing – it gets you unnecessary attention and is not suggested.
- Sitting on the roof of a vehicle is not allowed since the Uganda Wildlife Authority deems it dangerous.
- Nocturnal Game Drives are only conducted with Uganda Wildlife Vehicles except where UWA authorizes a lodge.
- We suggest no self-drive Safaris presently. Be safe and use a Ugandan Tour Operator such as ourselves.
Is this all necessary? The answer is no, but we like making sure that our clients are safe and secure. We are proactive rather than reactive. Uganda, once again, is in the negative news cycle. Informing our clients and others as to the reality here in Uganda beyond headlines, wrongful assumptions, we are glad to play a little Part.
Visiting Uganda Safely on Safari with Political Storm Clouds on the Horizon – Our Take:
Ugandan 2021 Presidential Election and Tourism: The Current reports from Uganda often portray Arab Spring-like Conditions or more recent Sudan events.
The demonstrations, confrontations have primarily taken place in Kampala and Entebbe. Most present Visitors to Uganda, including some of our clients, feel safe and secure on a Safari. They are enjoying the Pearl of Africa, the mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, the wildlife and scenic wonders, and the people they encounter on Safari.
Uganda is and remains safe and secure for Tourists, there are the Storm Clouds on the Horizon, but no Typhoon or Hurricane has swept across the country.
Please stay up to date by checking in on our Facebook Page, where we post the good, the bad, and the ugly reality about Uganda, including Safety and Security for Visitors.
May Uganda’s Motto “For God and My Country” prevail.