Speaking as invited guests during the opening of the Democratic Party delegates’ conference at Katomi Kingdom Resort in Garuga on Friday, former Vice President Prof. Gilbert Balibaseka Bukenya and Gen David Sejusa appealed to warring DP factions to reconcile and work together for a common goal of d
By Moses Mulondo & Nicolas Wasajja
Speaking as invited guests during the opening of the Democratic Party delegates’ conference at Katomi Kingdom Resort in Garuga on Friday, former Vice President Prof. Gilbert Balibaseka Bukenya and Gen David Sejusa appealed to warring DP factions to reconcile and work together for a common goal of dislodging the NRM government.
“We can cause a wonderful revolution without resorting to an armed struggle. Stop internal wrangles. Stop undermining each other. Stop abusing each other and stop blackmailing each other. If we are united, we can take power,” Bukenya told the DP delegates.
Bukenya, who was accorded a heroic welcome at the conference, cautioned opposition leaders saying, “It is true NRM uses DP structures. NRM will certainly do all it can to keep you divided. They have already started compromising your members with money. You can eat the money because it is taxpayers’ money, but don’t fight each other.”
Former Vice president, Prof. Gilbert Bukenya and General David Sejusa embrace during the opening of 2015 DP delegates conference at Katomi Garuga Entebbe on July 24, 2015. Photo/Ramadhan Abbey
The Busiro North MP who has already declared that he will stand for presidency in 2016 said, “This is the best time to uproot the dictatorship of 30 years. Museveni’s public good will is now at its lowest at only 10%. Let us be united so that where DP is stronger we support DP, where Bukenya is stronger we support Bukenya, and where UPC is stronger we support UPC.”
Gen David Sejusa said the internal squabbles within the opposition parties are counterproductive and an indicator of ideological disorientation.
The Democratic Party (DP) President Norbert Mao chats with General David Sejusa as former Vice president Gilbert Bukenya looks on. This was during the opening of 2015 DP delegates conference at Katomi Garuga Entebbe on July 24, 2015. Photo/Ramadhan Abbey
“Even if your neigbour is your enemy, you cannot refuse his bucket of water in helping you when your house is on fire. As long as your colleagues have not crossed to the enemy, don’t fight them. Don’t abuse each other. Don’t fight each other. The NRM is the state. That is why you heard leaked tapes when the Inspector General of police is secretly doing partisan political work for the NRM. ”
Divisions rock oldest party
The Democratic Party (DP) Delegates Conference has left the party divided as one faction led by the Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago snubbed it and instead chose to hold a grand rally at Wobulenzi in Luwero.
The Democratic Party (DP) President Norbert Mao shakes hands with former Vice president Gilbert Bukenya as General David Sejusa and others looks . This was during the opening of 2015 DP delegates conference at Katomi Garuga Entebbe on July 24, 2015. Photo/Ramadhan Abbey
The 2010 Delegates Conference in Mbale was boycotted by majority of the then party’s National Executive Committee and other party stalwarts most of whom have again boycotted this year’s delegates’ conference citing similar concerns of irregularities.
Mao’s camp will have an uphill task to subdue the rival camp since Lukwago’s camp is composed of the major kingmakers whose support for a candidate increases his/her chances of winning an election.
These DP kingmakers who are also the pioneers of Ssuubi, a Buganda political pressure group, include Erias Lukwago, Mukono municipality MP Betty Nambooze, Masaka municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga, Busiro East MP Medard Lubega Ssegona, former Buganda parliamentary caucus chairman and Kawempe North MP Latif Ssebagala, and Butambala MP Muhamad Muwanga Kivumbi.
The Democratic Party (DP) President Norbert Mao (Centre with flower) and his supporters arrive at Katomi Garuga Entebbe for the opening of 2015 DP delegates conference .This was on July 24, 2015. Photo/Ramadhan Abbey
Others in the camp opposed to Mao’s leadership include former presidential candidate Samuel Walter Lubega, the Entebbe Municipality MP Mohamed Kawuma, Kawempe South MP Ssebuliba Muddu Awulira, Lubaga North MP Moses Kasibante, Bukoto East MP Florence Namayanja, artist Kato Lubwama, former Kampala central division mayor Charles Sserunjogi, and among others, the Luwero mayor Charles Sserunjogi who has just crossed from the ruling NRM.
These Ssuubi DP stalwarts especially Lukwago, Kivumbi, Nambooze, and Mpuuga were the architects of the famous walk to work protests and the subsequent protests against the excesses of the NRM government. During the recent FDC delegates’ conference, politicians who participated in the walk to work protests like Ingrid Turinawe overwhelmingly won elections.
Nambooze changed her mind and later joined the Delegates Conference and succeeded in persuading party leaders to convince John Mary Ssebbufu, JB Mutebi and Eddi Yawe to pullout of the race of Vice President for Buganda for her.
This was accepted so that she would act as a link for reconciliation for the two factions.
DP MPs who have decided to remain neutral in the power struggle for the leadership of DP include Bukomansimbi County MP Deogratius Kiyingi and Kalungu West MP Joseph Ssewungu.
Although he participated in the Delegates Conference, Busiro South MP John Baptist Mutebi is opposed to Mao’s leadership and has been openly campaigning for Dr. Michael Lulume Bayiga to take over the leadership of the party.
Mao’s camp is composed of Luwero woman MP Brenda Nabukenya, Bukoto South MP Mathias Nsubuga, Jinja mayor Mohamed Kezaala, EALA MP Fred Mukasa Mbidde and his wife Suzan Namaganda (The woman MP for Bukomansimbi).
Mao’s camp is also composed of youthful DP leaders who include Paul Kenneth Kakande, John Mary Ssebuufu, Vincent Mayanja, and Sulaiman Kidandala who are accused of being political merchants serving the interests of the NRM to keep DP in endless confusion.
These DP leaders who also include Mbidde and Brenda Nabukenya have been at the center of the widely contested DP primaries which have been marred by a lot of irregularities.
While raising a red flag on the process that has led to the Delegates Conference, Dr. Lulume Bayiga said, “The grassroots elections have mainly taken place in Buganda with massive irregularities. Delegates from the north, the east and west were simply handpicked.”
Whereas the 2010 DP delegates conference had about 1000 delegates, Lulume said, this year’s delegates conference had close to 2000 delegates with some representing non-existing constituencies like Ntwetwe.
It is the above reasons raised by Lulume that compelled the camp led by Lukwago not to participate in the delegates’ conference whose majority delegates had been handpicked.
The DP Secretary General Mathias Nsubuga said whereas they had invited all the leaders of the opposition parties to attend the opening of their conference, none of them turned up.
War of words
While speaking at Katomi on Friday, Mao again viciously attacked Lukwago’s camp calling them clowns. He however promised to engage them in reconciliation talks after the delegates’ conference.
During a parallel rally at Wobulenzi, Lukwago and Mpuuga said many of the DP leaders in Mao’s camp “are hungry people looking for something to eat from the NRM.”
With these brutal attacks on each other, DP’s chances of winning many elective positions in the forthcoming 2016 general elections remain very slim unless they reconcile. Out of 375 parliament seats, DP has only 15 seats.
The conference, which was scheduled to end of Saturday, is still ongoing because the larger party of Saturday business came to a standstill when Mao collapsed and was reportedly put on a drip until he recovered at around 7:30pm.
Bukenya, Sejusa advise DP factions to reconcile