Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze, also the spokesperson of the People’s Government led by Col Kizza Besigye, says an agenda has been drawn for National Unity Party leader Robert Kyagulanyi to lead for 10 years and hand over power, writes Derrick Wandera.
How prepared are you for the virtual election that some have since contested?
A ‘scientific’ election is no election. The Constitution provides for only one election, which is a free and fair election, and there is no shortcut to that. I have been the incumbent, I have been campaigning in this place for three general elections, so everyone knows me and I am not disadvantaged. But think about the more than 50 presidential aspirants who are not known in Uganda, competing with someone who has been campaigning since 1980.
In an election, the demeanour of someone helps the voters make a decision. It is a proven fact that women vote men based on their looks. So why are you fighting to have an election? Is it better for Ugandans to vote than go to school?
You are in a dilemma on which party to join after quitting the Democratic Party (DP). What is your next move?
I am not in any kind of dilemma. I would have loved a peaceful and properly managed DP, but I do appreciate that I cannot have it. I have had my people here whom I have consulted and now we know what to do. I will let you know next week what we will have concluded.
Honourable, how bad is the situation in DP?
When you have a chief executive who no longer enjoys the majority, but does not have the courtesy to agree and step down, this is what happens. Mr Norbert Mao should concede that we get some elders to manage this election process and it will be those people to take us to the next delegates’ conference.
Whenever all this happens, the EC says they are taking Mao’s position as the official position of the party. All those things are happening because the government of Uganda chose to take him as our official president of DP. It is a connivance between NRM and Mao. The entire DP membership in Mukono has gone to [National Unity Platform leader Robert] Kyagulanyi’s party.
DP is the oldest party in the country and their problems are age-old…
It is because we have had dictators. Did you see these things happen in the times of Ben Kiwanuka? Kiwanuka was studying in London, and as soon as he returned then president Kasolo called the party members and told them that he was standing down for someone better placed to lead the party.
In the 1980s, there was no problem between Mr Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere and the other leaders of the party. Our problems were compounded during [Idi] Amin’s regime when they killed our president and then political parties were banned until 2004 when President Museveni changed his mind and allowed multiparty politics, which is on paper. In reality we are always facing a State party. In that process some of our leaders have decided to collaborate with the State.
There has always been a perception that DP belongs to the people in Buganda. Could this be part of the problem?
And what is wrong with that? Every political party has its stronghold. We have political parties leading big democracies yet they are called German Christian Party. All political parties have a history and we cannot hate our history. It is not an offense that my father was a DP member and his father was a UPC.
The reason why the Baganda Catholic went for DP is that they had been denied democracy in Mengo. It was never an affair of other tribes, it was about us and our kingdom which believed that it must have their own religion. The Europeans who came here misled our cultural leaders to say that they were Protestants and some of us were Catholics. At that time, you would never be recognised because we were Catholics. It is during that time that people came up with a freedom fighting party which is DP.
Let me also tell you this, in 1960 Mengo refused to support DP and instead went for Milton Obote, was that tribalism? Was DP serving Buganda? We were locked out of Mengo, the Kabaka made his own political party named Kabaka Yekka and won 21 seats. He gifted them to Obote, is that what you call tribalism? Between Kiwanuka and Obote, who was from Buganda and who was favoured in that case?
What then is DP’s problem today?
Mao. He always has one defence, which is tribalism for all the things he has done in DP.
You have been the president of DP in Buganda region. As you leave the party, where does that place the people who follow and believe in you?
We shall not be the first people who go into exile, leaving our dear families behind. DP is our dear family and it will always be. I have a life membership card No.27. It is only a few of us who have it and it is not given, it is conferred. Even if I chose another symbol of another political party, that will not stop me from fighting to go back home.
The other day I was telling my brother Kyagulanyi that ‘will you allow me to be in your party as a refugee because I have unfinished business that I have to go back and do.’ I understand what I am doing.
We have seen many DP members joining NUP. What is the reason?
We don’t know whether they have crossed for strategic reasons or they are crossing because they have given up on the ideology of DP. Right now I am reading the NUP constitution to understand what is happening then I cross. I have 602 villages here and they have told me wherever I go, they will cross with me. It is easy for me to go back to DP. I am just going into exile.
By the time [Rwanda Patriotic Front/Army leader] Fred Rwigyema died and they asked Paul Kagame to go and lead Rwanda, the latter had been sent to America for a course as a soldier of Uganda. Today he is the president of Rwanda.
They never forgot that they were Rwandans and their final battle was not in Kampala, but in Kigali. I would have joined any political party, but when I met Kyagulanyi, I asked him, ‘are you ready to take on refugees?’ You will know his answer next week.
You are the spokesperson of the People’s Government led by four-time presidential candidate Besigye. Bobi Wine has already declared his intentions run for president. If the two stand for president, who will you support?
If in an unlikely event that happens and I see Besigye and Bobi Wine on the same ballot, that will be another matter. But as far as I am concerned, there are no signs that Dr Besigye will stand in the next election. There is a drawn agenda that Kyagulanyi will lead for 10 years and leave the mantle for another person – if all things go as planned. But we know what to feed the media with and what not to.
In what capacity would you say that Dr Besigye will not stand in the next election?
I am Besigye’s spokesperson and there would be no point in me supporting another candidate other than Besigye. Take this from me, unless you don’t want to believe. Dr Besigye knew that Kyagulanyi was starting a political party and he knew why he was taking that direction.
They have had agreements, some of which have been written and given to you while others have remained inside. These two people sit together, our supporters might take time to understand this but they will finally understand with time. Nelson Mandela said that at times, the leaders must leave the led to go ahead and prepare for them.
Will the Opposition get a single candidate for the next election?
We shall have our single candidate and we know him. Yes, other candidates will stand to popularise their parties, others will be sponsored by the dictator, but we shall know who our candidate is. It has always been like that because Dr Besigye has always been voted for by people from different political parties.
Would you allow Bobi Wine to lead the Opposition in the next election?
People who believe that it is not about the president but the people around him who lead the country should not be asking me that question. I saw some people asking Bobi Wine the other day what fiscal policy is.
How could he have known it before we sat and agreed on one in a manifesto as a group? We are now going to do this. Maybe it was not even fair to ask a graduate of Music Dance and drama such a question.
A president is just a person of good will to allow other clever people to get to do the work as he supervises. He has the charisma.