Reviews & Profiles
UPC veteran politician retires with bitterness
Posted Monday, January 7 2013 at 02:00
54 years in active politics, he has seen the country go through upheavels and has learnt that deceit, hatred and self-interest can never suffocate the truth
Listening to Mr Clement Kasendwa Ddumba, a 74-year-old former Chief of Intelligence in the Obote II government makes me realise he is rather bitter about the unfulfilled promises people made to him and his country.
He retired from politics last year and has decided to spend the rest of his life quietly at his home village at Kiganda, Lwanda Sub-county, in Rakai District.
Ddumba joined politics by participating in Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) party activities right after school, when he was about 20 years old. He quickly rose to the position of regional secretary of UPC, Buganda Region. At the time of his retirement some months ago, he was the chairman of the UPC Presidential Electoral Commission.
The time he has spent in the party explains his authority while talking about Dr Milton Obote, Uganda’s post-independence first head of government. He believes that a lot of lies have been told about the man under whom he worked so closely throughout the two terms of his leadership.
In his book, The Land of Freedom, which Ddumba refers to as his letter to the Human Rights Commission, he stresses the need for a National Conference and Truth Commission to encourage dialogue and national reconciliation among Ugandans who have gone through one wave of political violence after another, since independence.
In search of a national conference
Sections of the book have been published in the Daily Monitor newspaper and the idea of the dialogue was also highlighted in President Museveni’s Address to the Nation in October 2005.
But as Ddumba retires from politics, he is sad that no such conference has taken place so far.
He says, even if he has retired from politics, he is still willing to help whenever the need arises to make the National Conference and Truth Commission, materialise.
“My generation is not concerned about the correctness of the history we are passing on to our children and generations to come. That is because since independence, Ugandans have allowed themselves to remain prisoners of the politics of deceit, hatred, and self-interest,” he notes, adding, “Despite the huge obstacles, the truth is struggling to free itself from suffocation.”
Explaining Obote’s actions
He, for example, says people enjoy blackmailing Dr Obote and UPC and they keep telling lies about the cause of the kind of things Ugandans saw happening at the Lubiri on May 24, 1966.
Ddumba says that the conflict between UPC and Mengo stemmed from the failure by the latter to go by what was agreed upon at the London Constitutional Conference, especially with regard to the issue of the counties that Bunyoro demanded from Buganda.
He adds that following the decision by the people who lived in the counties to opt to be part of Bunyoro through a referendum, reports emerged that Mengo was not ready to respect that decision and that there was a plan by Mengo to overthrow the UPC government by arms.
“As was usually the case, Obote was not in a hurry to take action,” Kasendwa narrated.
However, “he directed the police to go and verify the information. Consequently, a team of about 60 police officers was sent to the Lubiri to verify the reports. The police team sent to Lubiri was killed. Obviously thrashing down the police team like grass was more than enough for the hardliners to crush Obote’s cautious approach towards reports of an eminent insurrection believed to have been hatched by Mengo.”
Obote’s attack on the Lubiri
Kasendwa explains, the next option was for Obote to use the army. With regard to the allegation that Dr Obote grabbed Buganda’s 9,000 square miles, Ddumba said, “Obote firmly rejected that demand. To make sure (that) nothing happened behind his back, he directed the Land Commission to take full responsibility of the 9,000 miles. It is utter nonsense for anyone to suggest that Obote could not find better tricks to grab the 9,000 square miles.”
His time in exile
Ddumba retired a rather bitter man about unfulfilled government promises made to him in 1993 before he returned from exile in Tanzania.
As the chairman of Ugandans living in exile in Tanzania, Ddumba particularly remembers Major General Kahinda Otafiire meeting Ugandans in exile.