Friday, December 09, 2005

On why Monitor got it wrong on DP Elections

Monitor Newspaper Friday Dec 9, 2005

DP spirit was misrepresented
John Bosco Mayiga
Gawaya Tegulle's article "New wine put in old skins at DP delegates congress" (The Daily Monitor, Wednesday, November 30, 2005) should not be allowed to pass without challenge. It is an article written with such vitriol that it reads as a tirade of a disgruntled loser, and Gawaya Tegulle as the speechwriter. It is needless to say that the article lacks the analytical qualities of the standard that should grace the pages of Inside Politics, because it is a superficial exploration of the events around the DP elections. The article clearly but wrongfully portrays the DP leadership that elected the supreme leaders as lacking insight and foresight.It is a gross misrepresentation of the spirit and circumstances in which the DP elections were held. In fact it borders on the malicious!My understanding of the analytical role of a journalist is that their work should reflect the depth of understanding of the subject of analysis with a balanced mind so that they are not confused with vested interests.
Short of that, such work should be branded as mere opinion and not analysis and therefore should not be in the analytical pages of a newspaper. Tegulle's article lacks everything that would qualify it as an analysis, moreso that critical depth of understanding of the subject. Interestingly, Hon. Nobert Mao's column within the same pages (DP NEC elections: From Semo to Semo) carries less belligerence than Tegulle's "analysis".But the gist of my response is to expose the substantial flaws within the article. First and foremost, Tegulle does not tell us those irresistible qualities in Hon. Mao (apart from being youthful) that should have made him the indispensable choice for DP. Neither does he tell us the despicable qualities in Sebaana Kizito (apart from being from the "old stock") that make him a disastrous choice, as the article implies. Being youthful alone does not qualify a manor woman to be the anointed leader of an institution. If that were the case, then Prof. Richard Otto, who is equally youthful, would deserve Tegulle's anointment. Likewise, being old alone does not disqualify a man (or a woman) from leading an institution. There should be repulsive factors that objectively disqualify him. It is this knowledge gap that I feel Tegulle cheated his readers by not addressing.Secondly, Tegulle, as an analyst, failed to realise or acknowledge the factors that could have cost Hon. Mao the presidency. There is no doubt that Hon. Mao is youthful, and a very persuasive speaker. His rhetoric is unmatched. In fact during the time that candidates were given to state their case to the delegates, Mao performed excellently. But the top leadership of a consistent party like DP with deeply rooted values which even has a list of martyrs that have been murdered for its cause cannot be determined by mere youthfulness and rhetoric.
Wavering MaoTo me, in order to safeguard and preserve the record of the party, the top leader should be a tested, consistent and an unwavering member with no room for doubt. Hon. Mao's consistency was in doubt. Since his first association with the DP during his campaign for the Makerere University guild presidency (which he won), he has been associated with at least two other political parties! He was appointed a Secretary General of Chapa Karuhanga's defunct National Democrats Forum. He was also a founder member with Hon. Aggrey Awori of the equally defunct National Progressive Party just five years ago! In fact during his open campaign at the conference, this issue was raised and he acknowledged that he had in fact oscillated, which he irascibly attributed to frustrations with the progress of the party. A tested leader is one who stands by the party he believes in through "sick and sin" as Tegulle describes Dr Paul Ssemogerere. I agree that many have been frustrated with the events that have characterised the DP, but times of frustrations are not times to waver, moreso for a leader. In my opinion, a leader who waffles in times of great need requires to go through a process of debriefing before he can make any claims to the top post. Hon. Mao's moment was not at this year's delegates conference, as indeed the delegates pronounced themselves.Hon. Mao has also mysteriously absented himself from the struggles of DP against the Movement hegemony. Leadership requires visibility and association with the daily trials and tribulations of an institution. It also requires collective action and a high degree of team spirit. Unilateralism is antithetical to institution building. Hon. Mao is a lawyer and an intelligent person. In the many court battles that DP has waged against the Movement, Hon. Mao has been conspicuously absent. One would have thought that as a lawyer, this would have been the natural moment for him, as a leader aspiring for the top job in the party, to offer his political and professional skills for the sake of the party. He failed to seize the opportunity and provide leadership within using his own profession. In fact a person like Erias Lukwago (who is much younger than Hon. Mao) seized the opportunity, offered his legal brains to the service of the party, to the extent that when it came to the post of DP legal advisor, there was no doubt who the natural choice was. These are some of the issues that weakened his candidature, which an otherwise good analyst like Tegulle should not have overlooked (or covered up).Tegulle's article also fails to appreciate the objective conditions that have obtained in this country since NRM banned political party activities. For close to 20 years, political parties have been suppressed and oppressed by the hegemonic Movement. This has affected their ability to recruit and nurture not only membership but also leadership. To have the opportunity to legally change leadership through a delegates conference for the first time in 20 years, is surely not the time to make revolutions. There is a great danger of hitting rock bottom. For a strategist, it is a time to transit, observe both the inner and outer trends, make sense of them, and usher the party into a new era. This is where Sebaana's presidency fits into the equation. Yes, he is 71, which would make him old from a calendar and physical perspective, but he is a tested leader, whose loyalty to the DP has no questions.He can be relied on to preside over the inevitable transition that all political parties which have lived under the Movement oppression need to go through if they are to see another election. He has the experience, the maturity and firmness to steer DP, and I believe those are the qualities that might have overshadowed his age to be the choice of the delegates. For Tegulle to dismiss Sebaana's significance was to overlook all these objective dynamics that informed the decision to elect him. In analysing the choices of political party leadership at this time, it is important that we resist the temptation of being obsessed with youthfulness, charisma and rhetoric and such other easily attractive attributes at the expense of impeccable credentials such as commitment, discipline and consistency.When Tegulle says that the DP folks "are not reasoning logically" because they left out the people he mentioned, it shows that his "analysis" lacked a deeper understanding of the main characters in the power play, as well as an informed grasp of the dynamics both within and without the DP. And this raises questions! For example did Tegulle talk to a single source for his analysis? How come that his description of Sebaana as "a symbol of the sunset, at a time when DP badly needs to be associated with a sunrise" not only rhymes, but also sounds similar to Hon. Mao's campaign speech when he says "the choice today should be between the rising sun and the setting sun. If you want the setting sun, don't vote Mao"? Could this have been mere telepathy?

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