Monday, February 14, 2011
MOSES Mulondo interviewed presidential candidate Norbert Mao on his chances of winning the February 18 poll and how he hopes to manage the country thereafter.
How do you rate yourself and all the other candidates in the race?
Well, we have got those we call the usual suspects who include the NRM and the FDC and the only new thing we have observed in them is style, not substance. NRM’s Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for 25 years and FDC’s Kizza Besigye, who has campaigned for 10 years, are not like me who is new in the presidential contest. But of course I am not new in Uganda’s politics. To defeat an incumbent like Museveni you need to have a solid base.
What base do you have?
I have four different bases. As a candidate for DP, I count on the party’s traditional support base of Buganda, which has been re-awakened since I became the party leader.
I will certainly perform better than all other candidates in Buganda. My other base is Uganda’s young generation — below 40 years. I expect to win that vote. The 2011 election is about securing Uganda’s future and about closing the old chapter and opening a new one of brightness and hope.
My other base is the dispossessed, the ordinary people who constitute the majority of the voters.
Of all the candidates, I have taken the lead in fighting for their cause. Finally, the northern block will vote for me because my candidature pushes back the stigmatisation of the northerners.
I expect a resounding win in northern Uganda on account of my contribution to peace and reconstruction of the region. I believe this is an election we can win as DP and victory is in our hands.
Who do you consider to be the two leading contenders in the contest for the presidency?
Because of the power of incumbency, this election is between DP and the NRM.
Most of the people within the opposition fraternity believe I am the best alternative to the NRM regime because I have never been part of it and I am also the candidate of national reconciliation.
How do you now rate President Yoweri Museveni?
I still insist that President Yoweri Museveni enjoys the power of incumbency, but does not have sufficient numbers to win. It is possible that the election may go into a run-off. For him, power has become an end in itself.
How do you rate the FDC candidate Dr. Kizza Besigye?
The FDC still enjoys some level of support, especially from NRM members who have lost faith in Museveni as an individual but have not lost faith in the NRM. Besigye’s only drive into presidency seems to be kicking out Museveni, but Ugandans look beyond that because they are also interested in a better alternative.
Besigye has failed to galvanise his supporters. In fact, he depends on borrowed support from DP. FDC will suffer the dangers of a borrowed base. I believe that Besigye’s best days are behind him.
Are you saying 2006 was Besigye’s peak?
Yes. He has made two attempts and I do not believe that he can exceed his previous performance because he lacks a home, which I have.
And how do you rate the UPC candidate Olara Otunnu?
Ambassador Otunnu has in the past played national politics and at one time he was involved in peace talks between the Uganda government and Museveni, who was representing the NRA rebels. I look at Otunnu as somebody who is posing a moral challenge to Museveni. But having been away from Uganda for long, the time he has had on the ground is not enough to help him make an impact.
What about the UFA Presidential candidate Beti Kamya?
Beti Kamya is basically running a single issue campaign. She is very articulate and being the only woman candidate in the race makes her campaign more colourful.
But the issues she is raising are also being raised by all the other opposition candidates.
For DP, we have been fighting for federalism since the 1960s. Her candidature has surely created some level of excitement among people but it is impossible to win a national election on a single issue.
How do you gauge the PPP candidate, Bidandi Ssali?
I think Mzee Bidandi is clearing his conscience. He entered the race to show that he has offered his age and wisdom. He has run an impressive billboard campaign. I think his role is more as a moderating influence. I don’t think he is a serious contender.
What of Dr. Abed Bwanika of PDP?
Bwanika has some interesting ideas but he does not have any political base and that eliminates him from the serious contenders.
How do you rate Samuel Lubega?
Samuel Lubega lost disastrously two times in his attempt to become an MP. I think he is in the contest only to prove a point that he is also capable of running for president.
So, for him running for president is a great achievement and an end in itself. He is running a pathetic campaign which is unlikely to yield anything.
What do you think attracted this big number of people to contest for the presidency?
When you have many contenders for an office, it is a sign of fragmentation. But I think it also shows that many political leaders see 2011 as a turning point and they don’t want to be left behind.
What will you do if you are defeated?
If I lose in a free and fair process, I will congratulate the winner but if the process is marred with rigging and I am already seeing signs of rigging, I will lead a strong non-violent campaign to resist the perpetrators of the rigging. I will call out citizens to the streets to non-violently demonstrate against rigging.
If all goes well and you win, what will happen to Uganda?
It will be great for Ugandans to see a peaceful handover of power for the first time. It will be exciting to see a president who has no blood on his hands taking over. It will be exciting to see the Uganda army saluting me and paying respect to the office and not the occupant of the office which is what will restore faith in the democratic process. The Uganda I will lead will be sectarian-free.
If Museveni wins, would you accept an offer of a position to serve in his government?
To join in a Museveni government only means that you probably want the benefits of the office because it is very unlikely that you will be given the opportunity to serve.
So, my answer to your question is no. By the way, even if I were to join his government, he would be forced to dismiss me in a very short time.
But you can also find common ground even if you are not together in government. Cooperation must not only mean co-optation. So, I will agree to cooperate, but I will not agree to be co-opted in Museveni’s government.