- Press Statement by Democratic Party President Norbert Mao
This is the Press Conference that started the flurry of activities that lead to the 3rd IPOD Summit that took place on 12th March 2021. Please read until the end. The last few paragraphs contain the call for an IPOD Summit.
UGANDAN OPPOSITION DIVIDED BY A COMMON ENEMY! WHAT AN IRONY!
The purpose of this press conference is to announce definite constructive measures to express our ideas, concerns and hopes. Specifically we shall focus on plans for rebuilding our party and saving Uganda from fragmentation due to misrule and parochial differences.
After an election season filled with frustration and disappointment, we have a choice between wallowing in self pity and bitterness or picking ourselves up and moving forward with dignity, grace and hope.
To all our members, supporters and well wishers, I say there’s no time for licking our wounds. We have to regroup without delay and continue the pursuit of the objectives for which the Democratic Party was set up in 1954.
Those who watched our efforts from a distance have the luxury of making comments – some well meaning, some painful and even outright malicious. But only our close friends, family and the true believers of the party know what we invested in the race and how much it cost us physically, emotionally and financially.
We are very proud of all those who lifted high the banner of our party. We salute your courage. Some of our members succumbed to pressures of propaganda and hate speech from our opponents and ended up betraying the principles enshrined in our party constitution and to which they profess allegiance.
When circumstances demanded that they lead, they degenerated into blind followers of populism. Instead of fighting and risking to lose with y and dignity, they instead resorted to forging opportunistic alliances based on the selfish and flimsy excuses. Unfortunately for some, even their resort to opportunism did not save them from defeat. They still lost, only that their losses were full of indignity, shame and dishonor.
For those of us who stood firm to the end and still lost, our loss did not come at the expense of our dignity and honour. The founders of our party are looking down upon us from the high heavens with great pride. We did not dishonor them. We did not betray the party they sacrificed so much to defend and protect.
We congratulate those who against all odds were able to win. You swam with sharks and you prevailed over the crimson tide of hatemongering, intimidation and baseless prejudice.
For those of our candidates who were incumbent office bearers, there must be disappointment. To you I say don’t let your disappointment degenerate into bitterness and paralysis. You sought another term and we backed you because we believe you were doing a great job and deserved reelection.
We are not going to let our frustrations keep us down. We shall get up, appraise our weaknesses and strengths and act on our findings. We will not imitate the path of others with whom we have no shared values and goals.
You can’t want to win and at the same time persist in doing the things that can only lead to failure.
Things haven’t worked out to our expectations but we’ll keep going. We will not focus too much on what has happened but what is possible. We shall be adaptable and study different scenarios.
We are very proud of the decision we made to field candidates at all levels – presidential, parliamentary and local government. We resisted the pressures to surrender our right to think for ourselves and make decisions based on our values, conscience and convictions. As the saying goes, ‘only dead fish flow with the tide’. DP is alive and as ever will never be afraid to swim against the tide. Like our heroic leaders who stood firmly against prejudice in the 1960s we appeal to history to absolve us and make our tormentors pay a high price for their short sightedness and misguided ambition and sense of entitlement.
Everything possible has been done to destroy me and DP. Malicious smear campaigns have been orchestrated by a cabal of tribal enemies of DP. Our structures have been infiltrated and subverted. Our leaders have been blackmailed and intimidated to betray the party and many succumbed.
But it has failed to destroy me. It has failed to destroy the party. The party is still standing. I’m still standing. We’re still standing. There’s nothing more anyone can do. We’ve hit rock bottom. The only way for us now is up. We can’t sink any lower.
Call me crazy but one day DP will lead this country. And that day is not far off because Uganda yearns for a government whose foundation is Truth and Justice and only DP can offer that kind of government.
Many have sought to dismember and destroy DP in order to build monuments to themselves on its ruins but none have yet succeeded and none ever will.
When the waters in DP were stirred with a turbulent strife, caused by provincialist agitators, many thought that it was just about DP and Norbert Mao. Those of us who believe that DP belongs to the whole of Uganda were in contention with those of our members who believe that DP belongs to a section of Uganda.
With the benefit of hindsight, we now thank those who troubled the waters in DP. Calm waters can be deceptive. A lot of deadly creatures hide beneath the calm surface. When the waters are troubled you get to see the deadly creatures lurking in the water. With the waters stirred, we were able to see the scorpions, crocodiles and snakes hiding among the fish and turtles.
If 2021 has done anything, it has been a reality check. We can no longer deceive ourselves or each other. A moment of truth stares us in the face. We have gone through an empty ritual and called it an election. On 16th January, 2021 I issued a statement on the elections held on 14th January. The outcome of the presidential elections is now facing a legal challenge in the Supreme Court and as an Advocate I won’t say much today. It is our expectation that the Supreme Court will carry out a thorough inquiry as required by law to determine compliance with electoral laws. But I will say this: It would be an insult to our constitution and all the electoral laws to say the 2021 elections were free and fair.
In line with our commitment to rebuild our party, I wish to make the following announcements:
We shall focus on rejuvenating the Uganda Young Democrats (UYD). Almost 80 percent of Uganda’s population is below the age of 30. This majority is politically silenced, discouraged and marginalized due to pervasive commercialization of politics, nepotism coupled with tribal and cultural prejudice. The youth have been relegated to the role of disposable pawns and sit at the periphery of our political and electoral processes.
We shall evaluate and appreciate youth contributions towards achieving a better Uganda for all now and in the future. We shall also promote critical thinking on how to include young people in active and meaningful politics. 2021 has made it clear that if you don’t allow young people the space to express themselves within the law, they will find a way to express themselves outside the law.
We shall focus on the DP Women’s League
We shall focus on training our leaders and members. Training is the best answer to meal card politics.
We shall carry out a post election assessment, put a mirror before our eyes and see ourselves the way we really are and focus on building a better party of true believers.
We shall carry out an inspection of all our branches to determine their functionality after many of them were cannibalized by enemies of DP
We shall compile a new membership register as a basis of rebuilding then party structures nationwide
In terms of our constitutional framework these proposals and ideas will be thoroughly discussed at a party Management Committee meeting this week followed by a session of the National Executive Committee.
Eventually the National Council will consider the recommendations from these organs and convene a National Policy Conference to facilitate further consultations. We shall evaluate and overhaul the administration of the party.
Finally, as DP we are extremely concerned with the reported cases of abductions, kidnaps, unlawful arrests, illegal detentions, torture and disappearances targeting opposition activists. These illegal activities are being blamed on the security organs of the Uganda government. To date, scores of opposition activists are in detention and face charges before the court martial which continues to deny them bail without any lawful excuse. As a party committed to non-violence, rule of law and constitutionalism, we condemn these illegal acts of state terrorism in the strongest terms.
But we will not stop at condemnation. We believe that this is the time that the political parties have to take steps to end these troubling activities that flagrantly violate the rights of citizens. We call upon President Yoweri Museveni who is the current the Chairman of the Summit of the Inter-Party Organization for Dialogue (IPOD) to convene an Extraordinary Summit to discuss the reports of unlawful arrests, illegal detentions, malicious prosecutions, disappearances, kidnaps and torture. We believe that a frank discussion by responsible representatives of IPOD member party together with other non-member political parties that may be invited as observers will allow for a proper diagnosis of the problem and information sharing that will lead to solutions.
I have consulted the leaders of three of the IPOD member parties namely JEEMA, UPC and FDC and they agree that a high level meeting under the aegis of IPOD can be an important forum for dealing with mutual suspicions and ensuring that the armed forces adhere to the rule of law. This approach is definitely better than trading accusations and grandstanding in the media.