Any gains since you assumed the DP leadership early this year?
We have registered tremendous achievements. For the past many years, the party wasn’t recruiting members [and] if it did, it was acting as a nursery bed—recruiting members and passing them over to other political parties.Since the party’s national delegates’ conference in Mbale, we have been able to recruit and retain members. Prior to our coming into office, DP operated from the party headquarters [in Kampala] where leaders addressed press conferences or had street battles with Police. We have [now] taken the party to the grassroots.We have been to Gulu, Jinja and parts of central Uganda. Our president is out of the country [now], but when he comes back, he will embark on a northern Uganda tour while I traverse eastern Uganda. We have also set up a team which will remain on the ground in central Uganda.We now have an amiable DP leadership of energetic people born after independence, which appeals to the populace.Previously, the international community looked at NRM and FDC as the only political establishments in Uganda. As we talk, DP is once again a factor to reckon with in Ugandan politics.
When you say that DP acted as a nursery for other parties and issued press releases, is that a vote of no confidence against past leaders?
No. But I think it was a wrong approach. Secondly, some of them weren’t given the opportunity to prove their worth. John Ssebaana Kizito (immediate past president general) had the will to rejuvenate DP, but we gave him a wrong team. Some of our colleagues started leadership wrangles from day one, creating a big division in his executive.
The current executive has also been dogged by wrangles from the start.
We are trying to handle the situation. We have sent messages to our colleagues who don’t seem to agree with our leadership, that the door is open. We are engaging them in quiet talks. A team of our elders had been set up to reconcile us but I don’t think it has done a good job, and now we have decided to take it upon ourselves to make personal contacts, showing them the need for a united DP.We are registering positive results. However, the door will not remain open for ever, because we need to work. We shall not be sitting in reconciliation rooms all the time.
You are applying a divide and rule policy by approaching individuals.
We are not talking to individuals per se. They are not very many people by the way; they are just a few people with dissenting views. But whether they are the minority, they still matter to DP. The other day, I had a lengthy telephone discussion with Erias Lukwago (MP Kampala Central) and we agreed to sit and talk. The party President General has reached out to Betty Nambooze and the former National Chairman, Prof. Joseph Mukiibi, on a number of occasions.
Your group stifled earlier talks by ignoring Prof. Ssempebwa, Paul Semogerere and Cardinal Wamala’s advice not to go ahead with the Mbale conference.
We didn’t ignore their advice, but the High Court made a pronouncement that the delegates’ conference could go ahead. So, we went to Mbale within the confines of the law.
Some of your members have gone against the party decision and joined IPC, and this appears to widen the rift in the party. I think that is indiscipline of the highest degree on the part of DP members and IPC. The IPC protocol talks about political parties not individuals. Even by definition, it is inter-party cooperation, not inter-individual or personality cooperation. It is not good for IPC to start reaching out to our dissenting members. Those who join IPC individually are just looking for their selfish interests. If an individual starts running faster that the political party which has built them, then for us it starts raising question marks. But DP is not a lawless organisation; we shall have to institute disciplinary action against [such] party members.
That could ruin the reconciliation efforts.
When you discipline your kid at home, it doesn’t mean that you don’t like him. It is just for purposes of reforming that kid.
Those DP members who have joined IPC say that a united opposition is good because had it not been for IPC, Betty Nambooze wouldn’t have won the Mukono North by-election in May.
Nambooze is the best person to explain to the whole country what took place in Mukono. Nambooze as an individual had special support. Her position on issues of [Buganda] plus the recent developments in Buganda worked in her favour.
Nambooze says IPC and Mengo helped her win. Norbert Mao promised her money which he didn’t deliver.
I wouldn’t want to discuss those funny things in the press. If you are good family members, how can you start discussing how a family member promised money and didn’t give it?When Norbert Mao promised Nambooze money, did he call a press conference?I am sure that out of the money Mao pledged, he sent campaign posters to Betty Nambooze; did she mention that? Mao could have pledged Shs 50 million and failed to raise it and gave her Shs 5 million; she should appreciate. So, whatever Mao sent her was out of his personal pocket. DP neither has external nor internal funding. Even members buying membership cards, is still a problem. I was out of the country when she made the remarks but when I came back, I heard people talk about how she said that some of us who went to her campaigns weren’t wishing her well, yet we left our constituencies to give her support. And I know other people who contributed [to her campaign], however small. I wouldn’t want to talk about myself, but maybe I contributed. Nobody stopped other parties from fielding candidates, but even if they did, Nambooze would still have won.
Your Party President is obsessed with attacking IPC instead of telling us his plans for the country.Maybe you haven’t attended his rallies. I have heard him talk about the economy, CBS, the Kasubi Tombs, Buganda’s ebyaffe, the so-called investors who sell groundnuts, and the cooperative and labour movements.Of course it is inevitable for him to mention something about the IPC. When you throw a stone at me, knowing that I have capacity to throw it back, you don’t just expect me to say, thank you.
Some people say that by rejecting IPC, DP appears not to mind more years of NRM in power?
So as DP you would rather have NRM in power as you build your party?
This regime is going. It cannot go beyond 2011, but we must approach it in a coordinated manner.
If you detest IPC, why do you partially work with it?
It is not that we detest IPC. We are just disagreeing on the modus operandi. Our plan is that we should tackle Museveni using a multi-pronged approach. There is no presidential candidate in this country whose popularity cuts across the country, not even President Museveni.Mao has support somewhere and so do Col. Besigye and Olara Otunnu. Let us all present these presidential candidates and let each candidate traverse the whole country but putting emphasis in their areas of strength. If Mao and Besigye are strong in northern and western Uganda respectively, they should put more emphasis there. And then finally we come to Buganda and Busoga and it becomes the mother of battles with President Museveni, but having weakened him in other areas.
Can’t that be done under the IPC?
By the way, there is a law which has been enacted under the recent electoral reforms which says that where two candidates run for one office and one of them gets a problem, he/she is disqualified by courts of law and the Electoral Commission would declare the remaining candidate winner unopposed.Consider a scenario where, say, we have two candidates; Museveni and Mao or Besigye. And with the machinations of the NRM regime, something happened to that person.
With former Buganda Katikkiros joining IPC, DP might see its support in Baganda wiped out.
We are still strong and we shall remain strong in Buganda. I don’t know whether the two former Katikkiros joined IPC. I looked at the invitation letters for the meeting at Pope Paul and they were actually FDC invitation letters. So we are still asking ourselves, did they join FDC or IPC? But that said, it is not the right move for Buganda, especially the Mengo establishment, because it risks dividing the Kabaka’s subjects. The correct approach for Mengo would be getting leaders in different political parties who will be able to advocate for Buganda’s aspirations.
Last word.I know that Ugandans are yearning for change, but that change should be approached in a coordinated manner. Our brothers in IPC are our partners in the struggle. Very soon, the DP leadership will meet the IPC leadership and we present them our position, and I am sure they will understand us. If IPC is for change, DP is also for change, we shall have the same message for change, although not attending the same rallies.