Uganda Media Development foundation reporters recently carried out an interview with the DP President General Nobert Mao. In the interview Moa extensively talked about the circumstances that have led to failure of opposition parties to unity, there are all most no chances of his party candidate and the fact that DP no longer attracts young politicians. Here below we reproduce that interview;
Amid the storm, Mao has turned his focus to the coming by election in Kyadondo East where DP has fielded a candidate. In an interview last week, he told Baker Batte Lule why a divided opposition could gift NRM victory in a constituency which until last month was represented by FDC’s Apollo Kantinti. Excerpts below:
Why is it important for DP to have a candidate in the Kyadondo East by-election?
As the Democratic Party (DP), we had expected that Robert Kyagulanyi also known as Bobi Wine would contest on the DP ticket. There was a meeting of DP leaders where our candidate Lillian Babirye Kamome announced that if Bobi wants to run on the DP ticket, she would happily relinquish the flag for him.
Unfortunately Bobi Wine even after consulting me and other DP leaders chose to contest as an independent. So, his delaying [to clarify his position] until the last minute also kept us in limbo.
Fortunately Babirye Kamoome is now our flag bearer and automatically she had a right to the ticket which had been rejected by Bobi Wine. In terms of the opposition, our view has been that it would be good to face NRM as a united front and the principle should be that where the incumbent is from an opposition party, that party should initiate talks with other opposition parties.
Unfortunately, we never heard from FDC and I don’t know why. Maybe they also had other internal issues. But for us, if we had an incumbent who is going back for a by-election, we would initiate dialogue. At least let the dialogue fail but we would have initiated it because you can’t take another political party’s support for granted. We said we should cooperate on case by case basis. In some places we actually never put candidates.
I remember we attempted in Omoro where we suggested that DP should have the parliamentary candidate supported by all the other opposition parties and then FDC should have the LC-V candidate because the most viable candidate was Simon Tolit, who was FDC and for the woman candidate our DP candidate was better in our view.
Those talks failed; so, we went into the race and lost the chairman seat to an independent who is NRM-leaning and we also lost the parliamentary seat to the NRM. As I talk now, of the three MPs of Omoro, two are NRM, one is DP but this is now water under the bridge.
We need to go back to that time when we had a healthy dialogue. But this is not a matter of life and death; adding one MP to the current NRM- dominated parliament is not going to tilt the balance of power in any way but we do this incrementally to show that we can be able to increase the voices of those who want a different Uganda from the one Museveni has presided over.
When the opposition fields more than one candidate, won’t you split the vote and hand victpry to the NRM candidate?
We can only talk to people who want to talk to us. Like I said, DP is tired of being taken for granted. Just because some of our members are band-wagonists, so, people think DP is there for taking; that is not the case.
But ultimately, having fought for multipartism that offers the voters a choice, let them choose. This couldn’t be the best scenario that we could have designed but it’s what it is. We don’t want anybody to talk as if DP is obliged to support their candidate.
You said earlier that Bobi Wine was negotiating with DP to stand on your ticket but we also heard the same was happening in FDC so which party is he?
I don’t know about their discussion but Bobi Wine told me himself that he was DP at heart and for me if you can [not] stand on a party ticket, then you can’t claim to be a believer in that party.
Parties should not have room for those who just want to pay lip service to them and you cannot be on the fence. Anyway, the dice is already cast; the verdict of the people will come.
Aren’t these actions by the opposition working in favour of the NRM which is only fronting one candidate?
You can’t predict votes accurately; I can only say that our chances could be higher if we had a united front. But now our chances are 50/50. If we had only one candidate, we would be sure NRM would not win.
But with this confusion, anything can happen but the only answer to that is that we should learn to talk to each other respectfully rather than saying we are the official opposition, we are the biggest party; I don’t think that is a line a serious political party should take.
Your adversaries accuse you of trying to prove a point to FDC that DP is still alive even when you know that your candidate will have no impact at all.
I have told you how badly FDC faired in Lwengo. I think they got less than 200 votes. But we must also have some good manners; it is the right of any political party to field candidates. Why do you think Uganda goes to the Africa football championships or for athletics contests? Would we have got a Kiprotich if we had just taken it for granted that Kenya has better runners so we should now support Kenya?
That kind of argument we can’t accept; it’s myopic and it assumes that political strength is constant. So, DP has got a right to field candidates anywhere and no one has the veto powers to decide for DP. To accuse DP that it is a spoiler is even contrary to the spirit of multiparty democracy.
The voters know what they want and they will decide ultimately but if anyone wants our support, they should come and talk with us. Babirye Kamoome is a very formidable candidate and courageous that she has dared to go in a constituency rather than district woman MP seat, we don’t want to demoralize her by simply pushing her out of the race.
Ultimately it’s her choice; if she had chosen not to contest, that would have been the end of the story. Whether we would have been engaged in Kyadondo or not, would be another matter. Now that she is in the race, we have to campaign for her with all our vigor and we expect that all DP members will support her.
When you look at her performance in the previous election vis-a-vis that of her opponents, does she have any chance?
Ultimately, there is going to be one winner; so, does it mean the rest should get out? It’s the same way as saying because she didn’t win, she should get out.
There are new entrants who can overtake those candidates and win. But our job is to present our candidate and support her as strongly as possible. We are not going to walk away from a good fight; after all, we don’t expect other parties to deliver our message to voters. It’s our responsibility and the campaign offers us the opportunity to deliver our message. Whether we win or lose, the campaign will not be in vain.
Going back to Bobi Wine, how does it make you feel that a candidate who has some prospects of winning rejects your party card and chooses to stand as an independent?
You have told me that FDC also discussed about offering him the card; anyway there are people who want to be independent. We never approached him; it was him who approached us for support.
It was him who started consulting among DP leaders and eventually I met him and he said he wanted our support but that we should support him as an independent and we told him no way; we cannot support you as an independent. So, as far as I’m concerned, he has made his choice; do you kill everyone who doesn’t support your party? You can’t. It’s a free country.
There are also many MPs who are in parliament with only 30 per cent of the vote; so, do you ask them how they feel because only 30% of the voters voted for them? Those are the rules. For us if he wanted to be a DP candidate, we would have given him our full support.
There is talk that when Bobi Wine posted his picture with you, there was a backlash so he now fears to identify with DP.
That was propaganda. First of all, he never said it himself; if he did, he did it to you, you quote him. It was one of our DP officials who was trying to spin that.
All that is part of a smear campaign against me. This is not the first time of him posting a picture of me and him. As you noticed, we never posted the picture ourselves; he is the one who posted it. Anyway, why would there be a backlash?
I’m the president general of DP and I’m a key decision marker in that party. So, is he saying that posing with the president general of DP diminishes him? So many people, both here and abroad, pose with me in photographs and there has been no backlash.
That is some cheap spin from some of the people who are trying to demonize DP leaders. I went and posed for a photo with the Hon. Betty Nambooze; was there a backlash against her? So, this is just cheap spin which serious people cannot take.
As carried by Uganda Media Development foundation.