The Democratic Party President General Nobert Mao has weighed in on the recent announcement of People Power coordinators by saying that DP Bloc was never consulted and therefore DP members should wait for an official communication from the party before involving themselves in People Power activities.
“We shall issue further directions to our members after the consultative meeting with top leaders and MPs. In the meantime , we don’t expect any of our leaders particularly at the grassroots to deal with any one purporting to be Coordinator of People Power until a formal pact is reached between DP and all other political actors. We cannot allow other people to dig their foundation in our compound without a negotiated settlement properly reached.”
Nobert Mao’s words were carried in a lengthy press release yesterday night in which he said that as DP Bloc, they are going to reach out to the People Power team of Bobi Wine in order to forge a way forward.
Mao’s statement comes after many DP MPs were appointed People Power coordinators. However DP Bloc leaders Abed Bwanika and Michael Mabikke were sidelined.
Below we reproduce the statement.
“Statement of Guidance by DP President Norbert Mao to DP Bloc members
We have followed with interest the debates going on concerning prospects for a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) bringing together all democracy seeking forces with the aim of ousting the Museveni regime. The DP Bloc has developed a comprehensive framework for such a vehicle and believes it is the only answer to the citizen’s outcry for change. Our people want us to unite and we must not let them down.
The starting point is for all the individual leaders and political parties to get organized. That was the reason we launched the UYD/DP Reunion to reconcile and unify our party. That is why we reached out to the SDP and the PDP and together we have consolidated the DP Bloc. The DP Bloc is based on a clear Memorandum of Understanding developed after amicable talks by the parties. The entire process and the outcome received a unanimous endorsement from the National Executive Committee of the party and the broad membership.
We believe that there’s no alternative to a united front for change. We must also demonstrate that we have learnt the lessons of past attempts at coalition building by the opposition. So far all leaders in the opposition have proclaimed a desire for togetherness. However togetherness will not come by mere rhetoric. Our togetherness must be focused on the overarching and imperative goal of transition of power and must also be a win-win for everyone involved.
We have been having closed door talks with the aim of building a big-tent and an all-embracing People Power coalition of the willing. As a party we believe that People Power is a clarion call to unify citizens groaning under the whip of a common oppressor. We must all grow to the size of its liberating message, aspiration and promise. We must resist the temptation to subject it to individual aspirations for office at the expense of its long term purpose as a vehicle for liberation with or without elections.
When the Democratic Party launched the popular campaign known as “Togikwatako” to resist the rape of the constitution we told Ugandans of all walks of life that Togikwatako is an idea whose ownership is collective. We resisted every temptation to create a formal structure for it. The broad masses of Ugandans embraced the campaign. Our Members of Parliament took it a step further by giving it the color red as an identity signifying our willingness to shed our blood in defense of human rights, democracy, rule of law and constitutionalism.
That is what made Togikwatako the most potent popular campaign since Walk To Work. We also recall that the moment Walk To Work took shape under a formal organization, the Museveni regime promptly moved to outlaw the organisation by declaring it an unlawful society. The leaders were targeted with arrests on bogus charges, blackmail, bribes and intimidation.
Since the announcement of what is in reality a presidential campaign team (named People Power Coordination Team) by the Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi who is a Presidential Aspirant, there has been uncoordinated statements from those who by all accounts believe in change and most of whom are adherents of Hon. Kyagulanyi who many of us see as a viable presidential candidate.
In his interview aired in 12th June, 2019 by France24 TV, Hon. Kyagulanyi said the following regarding the selection of a joint Opposition Presidential Flag-bearer: “We are yet to arrive at the final decision. We are trying to build synergies. We are bringing together all forces of change so that we go into the race when we are more united than ever before. Yes, we have spoken and we are many contenders. Anyone among us will be chosen and blessed to lead us. And I am saying it that should the team choose me to lead them, I am equally ready to challenge the guy (Mr Museveni).”
The appointment of members and leaders of partner political parties to his presidential campaign team is contrary to this spirit which he articulated in that interview. That move has put many political parties and leaders in an awkward position. One can now imagine a situation where a party like DP, FDC, UPC or JEEMA holding talks with Hon. Kyagulanyi and find that some of their members and leaders are seated behind Kyagulanyi. This picture presents a fait accompli which is contrary to the spirit of building a togetherness based on a transparent and an accountable process.
In his remarks at the launch of his People Power Coordination Team, Kyagulanyi decried the death of institutions at the expense of individualism. He said “Instead of big institutions, in Uganda, we have a big personality, something People Power wants to rectify by returning this power to the people, empowering and strengthening institutions so that they can deliver to the people of Uganda…” We need to defend institutions and institutional processes however inconvenient. There are things we must do not because they are convenient but because they are right.
As the DP Bloc we remain committed to a People Power that resonates with everyone and that makes everyone a winner including those fleeing from the ruling party. We also recognized from the start the immense leadership potential of Hon. Kyagulanyi and that is why we have consistently offered him an open platform across the country and will continue to do so. Through this we have built a special bond and a higher level of trust. That is why even in the face of disagreements we have not degenerated to the level of hostility.
We believe that reducing the big idea of People Power to a campaign team in pursuit of a presidential ambition threatens cohesiveness and stability within the opposition parties that have built People Power. As DP we can state without any fear of contradiction that our members and leaders constitute the backbone of People Power. In fact Kyagulanyi and DP form the heart and core of People Power. The issue of a joint presidential flag bearer should therefore not divide us. Neither should the rivalries over candidatures at other levels. There are tested ways of managing these disagreements. We should look at the misery of the multitude of Ugandans yearning for change and find common ground immediately.
It is unfortunate that a very emotive debate, most of which is being fueled by our detractors is raging on Social Media. Until we agree on a mechanisms that responds rapidly to political developments, events, disputes, misunderstandings, and mechanisms that help our people interprete and understand what is going on we shall always have diversionary and reactive debates.
It is now obvious that many irrespective of political allegiance envisaged People Power as an Umbrella organisation under whose wings Ugandans would pursue the common goal of ousting the Museveni regime. They never once expected it to be fenced in by any individual. Any move in that direction will undermine the sense of ownership.
Unless we swiftly meet as leaders and resolve differences in a mature manner, the turbulence we are witnessing will become even more intense as the regional coordinators take on the task of appointing coordinators for lower level structures. Naturally the Coordinators will start by recruiting members from their own political parties. In the absence of a collectively agreed People Power framework as a Special Purpose Vehicle, the resultant chaos will breed acrimony and interfere with the internal processes by political parties to build structures as they head to their respective delegates conferences. Leaders who double as “People Power” coordinators under the Kyagulanyi framework will have divided loyalties as they have to build People Power structures and also the structures of their parties. They will face the dilemma of having to serve two masters.
In the absence of an agreed overarching framework they risk receiving conflicting instructions from their party Headquarters and also from Magere! That is a scenario which will weaken the pursuit of the common cause and will play straight into the manipulative hand of the Museveni regime.
Nevertheless, we believe that we can in a proactive manner and collectively as leaders take the steps to quickly build a People Power that represents a new consensus aimed at opposition unity. As President of DP I taken the initiative to issue this statement in order to catalyze the difficult conversation that we must have as the opposition. I am in a position to do so because I have have excellent personal relations with Hon. Kyagulanyi and we regularly speak on the idea of a united front. I am also have very warm relations with the leadership of the FDC, ANT, UPC and JEEMA. This is the time to scale up this process of building a framework that reflect the diversity of our country.
I believe that in due course there will be agreement and we shall select a presidential single flag bearer anchored by top level leaders from the four regions and supported by others from all subregions, districts, constituencies, sub counties, parishes and villages. We shall also agree on a single candidate from the SPV to face the NRM. That is the desirable and inclusive People Power structure that we need to build together.
The NRM is at its weakest but even the last kick of a dying horse can be lethal. Let us therefore avoid mistakes that the Museveni regime can take advantage of to divide us, weaken us and rob the people of their sovereignty.
Accordingly I make the following announcements:
1. On Monday 29th July, 2019, we shall hold a meeting of the top leadership of DP together with the Members of Parliament and the Political Action Committee of the DP Bloc to discuss how to scale up coalition talks with other parties and individuals.
2. I have also scheduled a meeting with Hon. Kyagulanyi immediately after the internal meeting of the DP Bloc to discuss our plans for a broader coalition. Thereafter, we shall present to FDC, ANT, UPC, JEEMA the framework for a Special Purpose Vehicle which was announced last week.
We recognize the right of everyone to choose to belong or not to belong to an organization and we defend it vigorously. That is why DP took the lead in the struggle to restore multipartism. We also believe that it is the duty of those who belong to an organization to abide by the rules and values of that organization. We insist that People Power is an umbrella for change and should be built in an inclusive manner by all stakeholders. We will participate in that umbrella as the DP Bloc. We are a party that has been in the trenches fighting for democracy for 65 years and pledge to do our part in building a value based coalition.
We shall issue further directions to our members after the consultative meeting with top leaders and MPs. In the meantime , we don’t expect any of our leaders particularly at the grassroots to deal with any one purporting to be Coordinator of People Power until a formal pact is reached between DP and all other political actors. We cannot allow other people to dig their foundation in our compound without a negotiated settlement properly reached.
President General, DP
For and on behalf of the DP Bloc