Thursday, January 20, 2011

A day on Campaign trail with President Mao

By Enock Mayanja Kiyaga
My first day on a campaign trail with President Mao was very interesting as summarized below.

I got in touch with Ronald Kato this Morning at around 7am and headed to Mao’s home in Ntinda, a Kampala surburb.

On arrival at around 7.30am, we met the campaign coordinator Elvis Kintu. We were later joined by the security and the rest of the crue. We kept chatting until the President General came out of his house. We were later joined by a senior DP official, Mr. Mujjuzi who gave the candidate a brief of the area, we were going to campaign in, which is a strong-hold for the ruling NRM which others call a “yellow zone”.

We set off for the trail shortly after 10am and headed for Nakasongola, an area which is embroiled in ethnic tensions with the Buganda government in central region where they are constitutionally located, and on many occasions their leaders have advocated secession. In 2008, the Kabaka of Buganda was blocked by government from visiting the area, claiming that he had to seek permission from the area cultural leader, which Buganda government does not recognise and insists he is a government creation in view of weakening by dividing the Kabaka’s subjects.

I was fascinated with the vehicle, that moves ahead of us dubbed “air force one”, with a team of around 7 vigorous, energetic and young men who mobilize people for rallies using whistles, vivuzelas and loudspeaker, inviting people for the mini- rallies and announcing the venue for the main rally which was in Nakasongola town. This group also moves around with a book in which they gather and register names and telephone numbers of the converts who offer to work as our polling agents and setting up party structures before and after the elections. The number of converts is quite impressive.

The first stop over was at Kakooge town where we found a very attentive audience. When Mao started speaking, the audience started to grow. Mao said that constitutionally Nakasongola is part of the Central region and the area is under the Kabaka who is a traditional leader with several cultural leaders including the one of Buruli who has a right to practice their culture without any interference.

Mao emphasized that Buganda is a nation with several ethnic groups who are free to practice their own culture without any interference from the Kabaka. He gave an example of himself an Acholi who lives freely in Buganda and is free to practice his culture. He made further reference to the Bagisu, who occasionally perform their cultural Imbalu dance, the clans and other cultural leaders without any interference.

Mao said the Kabaka of Buganda does not segregate and has never discriminated against his subjects arguing that the current tension is political perpetuated with President Museveni to divide and rule. Mao called upon the Baruli to reject Museveni and his politics in the next elections and embrace DP so that they can live harmoniously with the Baganda as it has always been.

He said, DP’s vision is to create a healthy Ugandan, who is educated and wealthy. He assured the residents that a peaceful change of power is possible if they cease to vote out fear. Mao told the attentive audience that Uganda will change whether Museveni likes it or not but Ugandans should use the forthcoming elections as an opportunity to have a peaceful change of government.

Mao also said, gone are the days for military dictatorship and Uganda is ready to return to full civilian authority by electing him as President in the forthcoming elections. Mao added that he’s a clean politician who will lead by example and his party DP has never committed any political sin.

The President further addressed other mini-rallies in Katuugo, Ssassira , Migyeera, Kalungi, Nalukonge in Bwabyata sub-county, Kabusombwa, Lwampanga, Zengebe, Kasenyi Landing site in Budyebo, Kibuye and main rally in Nakasongola town.

In all the rallies, Mao introduced himself as new to the Presidential race but not new to elective politics having defeated Museveni ministers and army generals. Mao also gave out his number in all rallies and people took it up and often called immediatelty after the rally to cross-check and spoke to the candidate, assuring him of their support.

People always kept asking for posters to pin up in their houses and shops. Mao also used the platform to identify with the voters but enumerating his humble beginnings and how he was able to achieve despite his humble begginings.

Mao assured the voters that when they vote for DP, there will no retribution to President Museveni and offered on behalf of DP to buy him modern recording studio as a retirement package to develop his new singing talent and look after his grand-children.

After the main rally in Nakasongola town, we headed straight back to Kampala .

Overall, the performance was so impressive and it was evident that we have made inroads in the yellow zone, by painting it green and white. I was so humbled by the zeal, commitment, vigour and spirit of the team on the trail despite the logistical challenges and I am looking forward to join the next trail to the neighbouring Nakaseke, Luweero, Kayunga, Mukono before heading to Busoga.

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