The NRM and Opposition political parties are not different from each other because they are both driven by greed for political power, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Kahinda Otafiire, has said.
Addressing student leaders from at least 25 Ugandan universities at Makerere University on Friday, Maj Gen Otafiire said the Forum for Democratic Change, the biggest opposition party in Uganda and its counterparts of the Uganda Peoples Congress, Democratic Party and the NRM don’t offer any clear representation of interests.
Gen Otafiire said elites in the different parties are in the political contest trying to lure the poor peasants to support them on sectarian basis of tribe and religion.
“Economic interests are not Catholic or Anglican or Muslim. A rich Acholi, Muganda, Lugbara or Etesot belongs to the same tribe just like a poor Munyankore, Acholi, Langi or Musoga,” Gen Otafiire said.
A charged audience led by a female student activist who only identified herself as Stella challenged Gen Otafiire, telling him that the difference between NRM and FDC is that NRM supports corruption while FDC aims at fighting it.
Gen Otafiire defended himself and NRM, saying the ideology that drove them to wage the bush war that brought them to power in 1986 did not support corruption. However, he conceded that there could be deviants in the NRM government.
“If the deviants in NRM have become more than the good intentioned people, then we debate,” he said and added that people should not be judged without evidence.
“Every time I have been investigated, I have been vindicated,” he said of the many times he has been named in corruption scandals.
“I was investigated by Justice Porter and he found me clean in the Congo probe, I was investigated over copper rivets and I still don’t know what copper rivets are. My hands are clean. Anybody who contests that, I challenge you to produce evidence. I was investigated over Chogm and they found nothing against me. I am not saying I am a saint but I have not touched public funds,” Gen Otafiire said, drawing both applause and heckles from the audience.
Gen Otafiire declared himself the “ideological guru” of the NRM party as he addressed students on the theme; “Democratic Bargain? Young people and transition politics in Uganda”.
He said that’s the reason he has remained “steadfast” when some of his colleagues left the party that brought the current government to power through the gun 28 years ago.
Gen Otafiire said as the first NRM National Political Commissar, some of the current key leaders in the opposition “passed through my hands and were my students”.
He added that Uganda was still a classless society that is just emerging from primitive peasantry. He said there was no ideological difference or special interest representation as a rallying call for recruiting support by all political parties in the country.
However, Law professor John Jean Barya challenged Gen Otafiire’s assertion that Uganda is a classless society. He said that argument was being deceptively constructed to make Ugandans believe “we are all the same”.
Prof Barya said the difference was that in Uganda, the means of production—a fundamental in creating class societies as a political mobilisation tool—are held by foreigners.
The conference was organised by the University Forum on Governance.
NRM party guru?
Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire says he is the “ideological guru” of the NRM. He said that’s the reason he has remained “steadfast” when some of his colleagues left the party that brought the current government to power through the gun 28 years ago.