If politics was about trading insults, Democratic Party President Nobert Mao would this week take the honours as he lobbed a volley of insults against his rival Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago in their increasingly dirty race for the leadership of the party.
In a press conference Mao called to protest the election of Erias Lukwago as the president of a splinter group of the Democratic Party, Mao called his rival an idiot, clown or Dikula and someone only fit to clean his shoes.
A number of people were taken aback by Mao’s use of insults to describe his opponents. But Lubwama says this is not new. “He used similar insults in Acholi that undermined all DP hopefuls across the entire Acholi region to the extent that the party got no single MP from a previously strong DP region.”
Dalton Kawesa, a seasoned politician remarked in a comment on Facebook about Mao’s outburst that the DP president has made similar insults before. Kawesa said: “I remember he invented the phrase Komanyoko Politics to which he claimed to be above, but how time flies. Today you would think he is the clone of Tamale Mirundi.”
Mao’s outburst against Lukwago and the break-away group of DP comprising largely of Buganda members has been roundly criticised for he displayed a lack of statesmanship and political maturity. More importantly however, they have soured relations among members and threatens to derail efforts by the opposition to present a solid credible candidate to uproot President Yoweri Museveni from power in 2016.
The escalation of disputes came at a time when the Party was slated to hold its Delegates Conference between July 23 and 24, 2015 to choose new leaders as well as its presidential flag bearer for the 2016 general elections.
Mao’s camp has gone ahead with the delegates conference against the wishes of a large section of party members including elders such as Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere, Prof. Mukiibi and Zachary Olum. In protest, Lukwago and several other MPs on the DP ticket, have organised a parallel meeting in Luwero.
As a result of Lukwago’s appointment, Mao also threatened to pull DP out of The Democratic Alliance, if Lukwago is allowed to sit on the 27-member loose coalition that is expected to come up, through consensus, with one person to represent the opposition in 2016 general elections.
Appearing on CBS’s Kiriza oba Gaana political talk-show this week, Lukwago remained magnanimous by his respectful reference to his rivals and appealing to unity of the party through a recourse to the rule of law.
Sources close to DP tell The Sunrise that Lukwago and a number of senior DP supporters from Buganda were forced to break-away from the main party because of Mao’s repeated undemocratic tendencies including apportioning leadership positions amongst his cronies as opposed to exposing everyone to a free and fair election.
Lukwago’s camp further accuses Mao of refusing to put in place an independent electoral commission that would be responsible for managing the forthcoming elections to be held at the party’s delegates conference on Friday.
Sources closer to DP add that due to his poor health, many expected Mao to relinquish power to more energetic young people whom they hope will inject new energy into the party’s desperate efforts to capture power. However, not only were members surprised by Mao’s sudden re-emergence to defend his position, but they were also disappointed by his reluctance to level the ground for competition.
Renowned CBS presenter and DP diehard Kato Lubwama told The Sunrise that Mao and his ‘Johnson Street’ clique comprising people like Kenneth Paul Kakande, John Mary Ssebuwufu organised sham elections at district level to get delegates.
Lubwama says: “A report that was produced on the way elections were held at district level concluded that they were marred with irregularities. Even Mao acknowledges the mess but has refused to clean it up. He has also refused to produce the list of delegates.”
Lubwama adds: “They simply want to sit and select people to sit on the party’s executive committee. We cannot accept this. They [Mao and company] will in the process keep themselves in power and block popular people out of the party. This type of leadership by Mao will not help the party get power because they cannot win an election. They are unpopular and dishonest. We want to get power yesterday and we are determined to do it”
DP’s Deputy Secretary General Vincent Mayanja and an ally of Mao refutes allegations that the current DP leadership has blocked elections. He said the current delegates were chosen using their traditional party system of using a superior body to choose representatives of a lower committee.
Lubwama says that majority of the party’s young supporters are thirsty for positive change in their party and are determined to fight for it.
Unconfirmed claims suggest that Mao is being encouraged to stand for DP’s leadership by former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi’s camp so as to boost their potential support for a joint candidate under The Democratic Alliance.
While Kato Lubwama is non committal on those allegations, he supports the view that Mao has been working with NRM people for sometime. President Museveni’s press secretary Tamale Mirundi said this week that the DP’s Mbale Delegates Conference held in 2010, was funded by the government.
Lubwama adds: “You remember that when he [Mao] fell sick recently, he was flown to Nairobi by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) helicopter and his bill was picked by government. But that would be fine if he allowed other people to rise up and take over leadership of the party because he has failed to take power.”
Lukwago and Lubwama accuse Mao of playing the tribal card as a defence strategy against accusations of mismanaging party matters. Lubwama argues as well that Mao’s tribal politics and his unwillingness to accept his weaknesses have destroyed the goodwill of the party.
“He has always tried to portray his opponents from Buganda as tribalistic yet he’s the one who practices tribalism,” says Lubwama.
There have been efforts by senior DP members to reconcile Mao and Lukwago, but they failed. However, Mao threats to quit the alliance represents the first major challenge to the Alliance. Experts however note that Mao’s threat to pull DP out of the alliance are only meant to blackmail Lukwago since the Kampala Lord Mayor already has a privileged position on the leadership of the Alliance as an eminent person.
Some observers however view Lukwago’s break-away faction as a long overdue but nonetheless a worthwhile endeavour that help put more dynamic and energetic people into positions of power.
Lubwama notes that Lukwago’s camp is supported by all current DP MPs, except DP Secretary General Mathias Nsubuga, is a source of courage that they have the support of majority of the electorate.