Unmasking the deal makers, manoeuvres

The Democratic Party (DP) President General Norbert Mao (left) signs the cooperation agreement with the National Resistance Movement in the presence of the DP Secretary General Gerald Siranda (second right) and Museveni’s lawyer Edwin Karugire (right) at State House, Nakasero on Wednesday. PHOTO / DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • The deal that had been concealed from some party members, according to sources, had been on since last year, but the two sides were scrutinising key issues.

On Wednesday evening, a video was uploaded on President Museveni’s official Twitter handle showing Democratic Party (DP) leader Norbert Mao signing a cooperation agreement with his long-time political nemesis.

The deal that had been concealed from some party members, according to sources, had been on since last year, but the two sides were scrutinising key issues.

The negotiations lasted more than a year, but a deal reportedly delayed due to some of Mr Mao’s demands, among them, taking a deputy premier slot among three Cabinet positions.

“These talks have been around for some time now. Mao demanded to have three ministerial positions and he had earlier asked to be the deputy prime minister, but all positions were filled up at the time,” one source familiar with the arrangements said.

Another source said Mr Mao originally aimed to coalesce more Opposition leaders into a single fold, including departing the DP supremo slot if Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, agreed to join the party, and later persuade all to work with the government.

The idea, however, was aborted after President Museveni appeared to show discomfort with Bobi Wine superintending DP, according to another source close to the behind-the-scenes bargains.

We could not independently verify some of the accounts, including a narrative that Mr Mao, once offered a ministerial slot, consulted with some Acholi luminaries both in Kampala and at home.

In 2018, after the Jinja East  by-election where Mr Paul Mwiru was announced winner, the DP party leaders and Bobi Wine met at Hotel Africana where they launched the DP Bloc which brought together different political players.

Reports suggested that Bobi Wine had joined DP and would later be announced as the presidential candidate but the move suffered a stillbirth when the musician-cum-politician decided to make a political pressure group, dubbed People Power, before it metamorphosed into NUP.

“That is not a true story,” Mr David Lewis Rubongoya, the NUP secretary general told Daily Monitor last evening, “There were people who suggested it but the principal didn’t allow the idea.”

Daily Monitor understands that the Museveni-Mao marriage revealed on Wednesday was arrived at using the Inter-Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) platform.

The deal was proposed by the DP side which was put before President Museveni, who referred them to NRM party secretary general Richard Todwong who constituted legal brains to shape the legal and operational framework for the deal. 

The DP side included its secretary general Gerald Siranda and Mr Mayambala Kiwanuka, the party chairman and Mr Mao.

Sources said at the request of Mr Todwong, Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka and the Chief Justice Alfonse Owinyi-Dollo made key legal inputs.  

Senior DP officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss confidential matters, said the party needed to widen its opportunities for leadership in the country and be able to get cash to run its activities.

“The leaders saw an opportunity to get money and work in government. With the departure of many of the party MPs, the treasury (of the party) was not doing well; so, they had to fix this. Mao also needed a job and so did some of his party members,” the source said.

In 2020, four sitting MPs including current Leader of Opposition in Parliament Mathias Mpuuga, Mr Muwanga Kivumbi, Betty Nambooze and Medard Lubega Sseggona crossed to the Bobi Wine-led NUP.

A document that surfaced on social media as a copy of the cooperation agreement was described to us by Mr Mao as a “leaked early draft”, although he noted that nothing changed much in the final.

Asked about the deal details in an interview with our sister television station, NTV Mr Todwong said: “The MoU will be made public when all parties agree, but it contains issues of governance, representation, transitional leadership, dialogue, democracy and working together.”