Mr Jack Wamanga-Wamai, the Member of Parliament for Mbale Municipality (FDC), has said he will not be seeking re-election in 2021. In an Interview with Sunday Monitor’s Yahudu Kitunzi, the 72-year-old legislator shares why he is leaving politics, his highs and lows in the House he has been in since 2010.
Why are quitting politics?
Time comes when one says enough is enough and leave politics, because it’s not an inheritance. Although we don’t have term limits for Members of Parliament, I am excited to leave for someone else to serve the people.
You leave politics as your party Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) is going through turmoil. What is your advice to the Opposition?
Yes, there is a problem in FDC. Members of FDC have left and joined ANT [Alliance for National Transformation]. People of the Opposition must work together as a party to forge a way forward. But, the truth is we have had issues in the Opposition.
You can see ANT broke away from FDC. When you get a big group moving away, it weakens the one that remained behind. I advise the Opposition to put up a fight for change, and not blackmail one another other. If you blackmail each other, then you cause a problem for yourself.
You replaced Wilferd Kajeke, who resigned after being elected on FDC ticket. Does being Mbale Municipality MP come with special challenges?
Yes it does because when people elect you, they expect you to do a lot of things.
They expect you to do what are at times impossible and what Parliament does not allow you to do. You must have seen the adverts on TV telling people that the demands they put before MPs are not what MPs are supposed to do. Some of these complicate things and make it very hard for MPs to do what people want. People have their problems and expect MPs to solve them.
What candidate will you support for Mbale City?
I still remain a member of the FDC party. I will support whoever they give the party flag.
What are some of the things you enjoyed in serving as MP? And what do you regret?
I met different people. Quite a number of Bills came to the floor of Parliament and one of the Bills that disappointed me was the Public Order Management Act which I felt should not have been passed.
Another issue I regret was the age limit (Bill). People I consulted with in Mbale said togikwato (do not amend the age limit clause), but I did not participate in the voting for the Bill because I was on official duty with Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah in Haiti. I am a member of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States. When you’re MP, you will never know what is coming on the order paper until that morning.
But some people say you were bribed not to participate in the vote
I didn’t run away from that Bill and I was not bribed by the ruling government. I keep asking myself a question, ‘did Opposition lose that Bill on the floor of Parliament because of my vote?’
No, it was because on the other side NRM had the majority. Even if I had been in the House, we would have lost.
But even if I was in the House, I wouldn’t have fought the way my colleagues did. I went to Parliament with my head to reason out issues, not fight.
Parliament has come under criticism for not adding too much value to the common person. What is your opinion?
Yes I agree. Recently, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah talked about it, the level of debate in Parliament is very low. We have a Parliament of about 460 MPs. We don’t have much money to pay them. In fact, money should go to hospitals to buy drugs and work on roads to improve and empower our people.
Some MPs go to Parliament and sit, they don’t contribute. We have MPs who have never spoken on the floor of Parliament. So what value do they add on issues that concern the country? I agree with those one criticise Parliament because what takes us to Parliament is to raise issues concerning our people, to make sure that we bring change.
There is a debate among some members of the Opposition on fielding a single candidate. Can it work?
Opposition must work as a team. We recently had an election in Malawi where the Opposition won. I appeal to the Opposition to come together and put up a fight against President Museveni, instead of wasting time fighting ourselves.
Of course, the Opposition does not have money and State apparatus such as Resident District Commissioners and police. But we must work as a team.
You talk about the struggle to remove President Museveni. Is the Opposition winning or losing?
It’s still difficult to remove Mr Museveni from power because of the fights within the Opposition. Let all Opposition parties come up and front one candidate for president. And the others should rally behind that candidate.
What are Uganda’s problems that need urgent attention?
Creating employment because majority of Ugandans are on the streets. Fighting poverty, creating democracy, fighting corruption and equipping hospitals and improving the infrastructure.
What are some of the decisions that were taken by Parliament that you regret?
Public Order Management Act, age limit and changing of the Constitution all the time. In Parliament, we pass the Budget that should run from June to June, but before June reaches, we always requests for supplementary budgets. I regret that we keep borrowing money and that money is misused and some stolen.
What next for you?
I leave Parliament to concentrate on farming and my private businesses.
Yes, there is a problem in FDC. Members of FDC have left and joined ANT [Alliance for National Transformation]. People of the Opposition must work together as a party to forge a way forward.