By Norbert Mao
I have seen the concerns expressed by members about the opinion of the Hon. Betty Nambooze on my visit to the home of Hon. Deo Kiyingi, MP Bukomansimbi South. The outburst by the Mukono Municipality MP was cast in a familiar frame which we have been accustomed to. It was full of malice, lies and misrepresentations. But it is just a symptom of the cracks we have in our party. We have to fill the cracks because pests and weeds exploit the cracks and thrive in the cracks
During that week, I had engagements which took me to Kisoro, Kabale and Mbarara. I ended up in Masaka for the last funeral rites of Hon. Babirye Kabanda’s late mother. I also visited the home of one of the mothers of Hon. Florence Namayanja, where funeral rites had been held.
During the funeral rites organized by Hon. Kabanda I met Hon. Deo Kiyingi and told him I could not attend their wedding anniversary but promised that I would visit him in the evening of that same Saturday. Indeed I went to Bukomansimbi to visit Hon. Kiyingi. There was a gathering of some 50 people in his compound. Deo Kiyingi took me on a tour of his projects – a coffee and banana plantation, a piggery, dairy cattle unit and a vanilla garden. I also visited his late father’s house. We went to the burial grounds to pray before getting back to speak to the small gathering in the compound.
I spoke on the current political situation and advised my listeners to draw a line between political power and political office. I explained the essence of the DP Bloc and the Reunion. I also explained what we have been able to largely unify DP and the plans we have to unify the wider opposition ahead of the 2021 elections. I assured them that being the district of Ben Kiwanuka, Bukomansimbi must be DP 100%. In fact in all elections I have solidly backed DP flag-bearers including my harshest critics. Towards the end of my speech Mrs. Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi came in and joined us in the compound.
I told the gathering that though now Nakiwala Kiyingi is in NRM, I cannot fail to appreciate her commitment to the party when she was the flag-bearer of DP for the Kampala Woman MP seat. I explained that while opportunistic DP candidates shunned Issa Kikungwe who was the DP flag-bearer for Kampala Lord Mayor, Nakiwala stuck with him all through the campaign. I also explained that there are other examples of odd political couples who subscribe to different political parties and that can sometimes create awkwardness, ambiguity and misunderstandings. I explained that while other parties like FDC have many such couples, they don’t make a big deal out of it. However in DP it seems the members cannot accept that a couple can differ in terms of choice of political allegiance. I joked that political allegiance is not part of marriage vows.
I also explained that the first time I learnt that Nakiwala Kiyingi was being considered for a ministerial appointment by President Museveni was when the late DP SG Hon. Mathias Nsubuga told me that he had been told by the Kampala Archbishop, His Grace Cyprian Kizito Lwanga that he had been asked by President Museveni to propose some names for possible appointment into the cabinet and he had included Nakiwala Kiyingi’s name among the names he submitted. I told Hon. Nsubuga that though I personally wouldn’t encourage anyone to accept a position in Museveni’s government, the manner of sourcing the name was through the church and we should leave it for the church to deal with it. I made it clear in subsequent statements that DP has nothing with Nakiwala’s appointment. With her joining NRM, she has severed any links with DP. That is matter settled by the DP constitution.
Some members of DP think that because his wife is now in NRM and also a minister in Museveni’s government, that makes Deo Kiyingi a lesser DP member. In their view, for him to be a true DP, he should actually divorce his wife! I think that viewpoint is ridiculous.
I had hesitated to say anything about the Mukono Municipality MP’s comments because I don’t like punching below my weight. I have tried it before but the results have been disastrous for those at the receiving end of the punches. So I prefer to restrain myself.
I urge members to realize that human relationships shouldn’t always be based on politics. In the case of Deo Kiyingi, I have no reason to doubt his loyalty to the party. He has practically demonstrated his commitment to the party principles. As a matter of fact his performance in the last LC elections surpassed that of any DP leader countrywide. I think it is up to him to deal with the awkwardness created by statements allegedly made by his wife that she will soon make him cross to NRM! He is a politician and he should handle that. NRM is our competitor just like any other political party. If Nakiwala Kiyingi should contest for any position on the NRM ticket she should expect no support from DP and definitely not from any DP leader.
As President and Chief Executive Officer of DP, I often find myself having to raise up leaders who slip and find themselves in awkward situations. Some of the situations are not inherently awkward but are made so on account of the internal bickerings of the DP members themselves when they try to bring down one of their own. I recall the case where our EALA MP Hon. Fred Mukasa Mbidde went to Masindi alongside other EALA MPs to attend the NRM Anniversary. EALA was having it’s sitting in Uganda and the members went to Masindi. During introductions President Museveni, with his usual antics, said “This one is not a bad DP”. That statement was used by key leaders in DP to deride Mbidde and myself and the entire leadership of DP. It was my duty as CEO to defend our EALA MP against malicious distortions. A Mickey Mouse clique started forming calling itself Bad DP. It was a big distraction which however we were able to deal with.
Another incident involved Sulaiman Kidandala who was then Deputy Lord Mayor. He alongside current Makindye Mayor Ali Nganda Mulyanyama went to Masindi and met former IGP Kale Kayihura. A voice recording emerged where one of their delegation was asking for money from Kale Kayihura. This was the so called soliciting of money which became known as “okwekuba ko enffufu”! I defended Sulaiman and Mulyanyama vigorously even as his boss the Lord Mayor hang him out to dry. I even appointed Mulyanyama to be the Chief Mobilizer in my office (Ssabakunzi) – a position he excelled in and gave him the platform that elevated him to the current post he holds.
Earlier the current Masaka LCV Chairman Jude Mbabaali, who had withdrawn an election petition against VP Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi was accused of receiving a bribe from the VP to abandon the case. Mbabaali had contested for the Bukoto Central Parliamentary seat and lost due to massive rigging and violence. He petitioned court to nullify Ssekandi’s victory but later the then Masaka Bishop and the then Katikkiro Walusimbi mediated and Mbabaali dropped the case. The Bishop and the Katikkiro for their own reasons (which I don’t have to go into here) mediated and pressured Mbabaali to drop the case. This withdrawal was blown out of proportions and Mbabaali was accused of having been compromised. I stood with Mbabaali and defended him in view of the corrupt judiciary and also the possibility of crippling costs of litigation.
Last year some DP MPs were named on a list of people who had been receiving fuel from former IGP Kale Kayihura to carry out undisclosed assignments. Many of those MPs happen to be among my harshest critics. I was under pressure from party leaders and some of my supporters (so called Mao Diehards) to denounce them publicly. I refused because of lack of conclusive evidence. The only thing I did was to write to the current IGP to provide more information and clarification. Todate I have not yet got a reply.
I don’t believe in tit for tat. I am not vengeful. I believe that the privilege of being DP president comes with responsibilities far beyond winning petty arguments and taking cheap shots. It is my duty to give the best example of integrity and fairness. Unfortunately some of my colleagues want me to descend to the low levels of those who continuously smear my character. An example was when the Mukono Municipality MP was faulted for lying to the Court of Appeal in Mbale that she had returned the 29 Million Shillings given to MPs to consult on the age limit constitutional amendment! Some members told me to capitalize on that but my sense of FairPlay has no room for that. I told them that the Mukono Municipality MP needed money to take care of her health and even though she said she had returned the money, that was gallery talk intended for her adoring fans but she didn’t know that the truth would come out. In any case she was embarrassed enough by Justice Kakuru and it was not necessary for me to join the fray.
I can take on anybody if I have established facts and evidence but I cannot allow party leaders to be subjected to mob justice for unproven charges. It would be tantamount to abandoning a fellow combatant to die just because he or she is wounded. A dictatorship is very complex and we should often expect the unexpected. Peoples survival instincts make them seek for ways to preserve themselves. Those of us who have been opposed to NRM from day one understand this better than anyone. We therefore need no lectures from those who found us in the trenches of battle.
I’m committed to FairPlay. Of course this has not helped change the conduct of those DP leaders and other so called opposition leaders who have spent reams and reams maligning and sullying my character. For instance, for years, Mama Nico was said to work in State House. Of course highly placed DP leaders took the lead in spreading that lie. Even my friend Sam Lubega (now a Principal of the DP Bloc) joined the fray. But when the list of all State House employees was published, I asked the malicious propagandists to show me where her name was but they failed. But that is them. I will insist on being myself and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. The political seasons come and go but my character will remain constant. My voice is the mirror of my conscience!
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