DR KIZZA BESIGYE has been the most dominant opposition political figure on Uganda’s scene for the last 20 years. A former president for FDC and four-time contestant for the presidency, Besigye has cemented his name in our political folklore. Yet he has also come under criticism from some sections of the public who accuse him of fighting other political players. In a wide-ranging interview with The Nile Post, Besigye insisted that he has not denied anybody political space.
Some people have said that there are politicians within FDC whom you don’t get along with well like Abdu Katuntu, Ibrahim Kasozi…what is the problem?
Absolutely nothing. As I have said I think there is a deliberate attempt to divert the country especially those that are seriously fighting into unnecessary talk and confusion. Our challenge and its an urgent challenge that we have a country that is captive itself.
All the 40 million Ugandans have no control over the vast resources of our country. It is under the control of a few people. Ugandans are wallowing in poverty.
Our young people have no jobs. There are no public services. So it waste time on an institution of parliament that has no power, that will have nothing to do with changing the capture of the state, is to divert our attention.
In a political party, if it is to have any claim to being a democratic institution, there has to be competition. FDC is the one party where we have a lot of competition and democratic elections.
There has been talk of a formation of a third force to lead the opposition struggle. What is your view on this?
Even when you disagree and go different ways, it is democratic. You see the rights we fight for is the right to disagree, is the right to associate as you wish. It is not good riddance for people to form a third force.
We want as many people as possible but whoever wants to exercise their rights to associate freely, we must respect it and treat it as part of a democratic process.
But if they want to form a third force because their views have not been dominant where they are, in other words, they have been defeated in elections…and this is what it boils down to because no body says there was cheating [in FDC]. If anybody was saying that there is no space to talk, no space to organise, no space to influence others to support you…
Some people say you have occupied the opposition political space and frustrated new blood from emerging
How would I deny anybody space? Has anybody interfered with anybody’s campaign? Absolutely not. So whoever says that would be ridiculing themselves.
If there are transparent democratic processes…I am even happy with the transparency in FDC. These are public institutions. The public has the right to know exactly what is going on, good or bad. I don’t support people who say we should not clean our dirty linen in public. In a private home, you may not clean you dirty linen in public. People should know what is happening in FDC such that they can join it knowing what to expect.
Those who think their views have not been supported by the majority within the FDC and want to organise separately, I can only advise them that it is futile.
Even of you organise separately, you will have competition there. So if where you have organized separately you compete and you are defeated, will you organise separately in another group?
There is talk that you and Museveni are essentially the same..the kind of politics that you practice, the way both of you want to dominate the political space etc…
Again that is talk of people who want to cloud the picture because power in this country is held by Mr Museveni 100%.
So to mix the one who controls all the resources of our country, controls all the taxes. You then say that this person who captured the country together with this [Besigye] are the same?
That is the ultimate confusion and stupidity for one to say that the who captured power 32 years ago, holds it with an iron hand, violates laws, steals elections is the same as Besigye who is struggling to remove this capture of the state, who has met a lot of challenges in doing so.
I have been in many prisons. People think that I enjoy being in prison, I enjoy that my brother was killed? So.. we are the same?
The ones who is imprisoning and the one being imprisoned? We should all go. That is an attempt to cause confusion.
My frank frustration is with the elites because all this idle and stupid, foolish kind of talk you find it among the kinds of people who should be understanding more than the ordinary citizens. We have people with degrees, professors and you find them involved in this nonsensical things.
But the population is smarter than some of us leaders that is why even in elections when we fail to agree on whom to go with as a candidate for the captives, for them they make a quick assessment and rally behind that one. So our hope as a country is not in the elite.
Some people have said you have issues with Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu and that you even fought hard for him not to be re-elected as party president?
That is not true. If you follow the news, I even met Muntu here [Katonga] recently. Gen Muntu is one person I have never had any slightest of problems with. And I know if you ask him about me, he will tell you the same. There are some people I have confronted over their personal attributes and who therefore have a legitimate right to confront me back. But even those who I have real grievances against, I have never ceased to interact with them. I have no enemies.
There are reports that some people in the opposition get money from the NRM..
I don’t’ know but there is absolutely no doubt that some people who function in what we call the opposition get money from Museveni. Some of them have admitted like my friend Hon Anita Among. She said whenever she wants to see the president, she sees him and he gives her money.
What is your view on the emergence of Bobi Wine as a major political player?
I talk to Bobi Wine. Like I said, I have no political enemy. Even Museveni, I do not regard him as my enemy although for him he thinks I am his enemy.
I respect Bobi Wine because has come out to take part in the struggle to liberate the country. I thank him for that because there are people who have been saying that ‘Besigye should leave, he has done nothing.’ But these people do not want to take part in the struggle.
The only mistake he [Bobi Wine] can make is to think that he will go into a presidential election and people will elect him to remove Museveni. I know there are people trying to urge him to stand. They tell him you have support here and there. Others want to ride on his popularity to become councillors…etc.
Yes, all people should come out and join the struggle but the biggest struggle today is not to find a someone (within the opposition) to remove Museveni but to find a way to rescue this country.
If the country is rescued there are four things to be done: We have to amend the constitution; we have to reform public institutions like police, army; we have to foster unity because there is a lot of hatred and pain among people and then we have to organise a free and fair election.