No one that has followed Uganda’s politics for the past 20 or so years can doubt the eloquence of Democratic PartyPresident Nobert Mao.
Neither can any one down play his capabilities when it comes to constructively debating issues of national importance and offering workable policy alternatives especially where the state blunders. He certainly is impeccable at that level.
Beyond his eloquence and great insight, his political career as well is an enviable one by many standards.
A former Makerere University Guild President, a former Member of Parliament who left an indelible mark in theAugust House and a former Gulu district Chairman as well, Norbert Mao has been most things political in Uganda besides sitting in cabinet or being the country’s fountain of honour.
His ascendance to the top of the Democratic Party back in 2010 was considered a sign of looming propulsion to the top of Uganda’s politics where many believed he belonged.
Unfortunately it seems that is the highest he was destined to reach as he hasn’t done much in growing the party or putting up real competition at the Presidential level even when he contested in the National Presidential election.
What went wrong?
The optimism that pushed the late DP President John Ssebana Kizito and some of his contemporaries at the helm of Uganda’s oldest political party to ensure Mao takes over as President was hinged on a number of factors.
These included the fact that unlike many of the party’s Senior cadres who hailed from the central region then including his competitor Alhajji Nasser Ntege Ssebagala, Mao an outsider from the Northern part of the country would give the party a more Nationalistic outlook.
This was something they lacked at the time and the group pushing for Mao also thought he would use his clout to win over not only support but new influential leaders from the North.
Having already been a leader of national repute it was also thought that his rise to helm of the party would spread the party’s popularity in other parts of the country too.
However 10 years since his take over of the DP Presidency, very few of those expectations if any have been met.
Demise of UYD
The Democratic Party throughout the 1990s to the time Hon. Mao took over as President had its core strength in itsvibrant and sometimes radical youth wing the Uganda Young Democrats.
Names like Hon. Fred Mukasa Mbide, Hon. Rose Namayanja, Kenneth Paul Kakande, Hon. Muwanga Kivumbi to mention but a few nurtured their political careers through the UYD.
Under Mao’s Presidency UYD has literally been wiped off Uganda’s political scene the last of its exceptional products being Hon. Brenda Nabukenya. Besides a few squabbles the youth wing’s leadership regularly had with its party’s top leadership a few years ago, nothing of substance has come out of UYD in recent years.
Beyond the ‘death’ of UYD, the constant squabbles with the party’s most prominent politicians including now FDC member Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, Hon. Betty Nambooze and Hon. Mathias Mpuga to mention but a few have brought DP to its knees.
These squabbles many times went so low turning tribal with Mao on one side and the group that later came to be christened as bad DP on the other side.
Treating all those who disagree with him like enemies of the party left many looking outside the party for answers.
Accountability for party funds being hard to come by and assets that include a commercial printer owned by the party that disenfranchised members say brings in revenue that has never been accounted for hasn’t helped the situation.
A number of other issues including failure to elect a new Secretary General after a number of attempts since the demise of Hon. Mathias Nsubuga, the continued postponement of the party’s delegates conference that is always about to be held and then something happens is also a sticking issue however preparations to hold one in Gulu soon are on.
The issue of Mao’s tenure as President expiring and having no clear signal on what next has also left the country’s oldest party sinking further into abyss.
The Final Blow
Earlier in August the mother of all blows happened as a total of 16 Members of Parliament belonging to the larger DP block with majority coming from the main Democratic Party were unveiled as members of the National Unity Platform after signing an MOU with the party. This left Nobert Mao’s DP with just 4 Members of Parliament. The departing group all spoke with one voice against the undemocratic practices of Mao and how these pushed them out of DP having tried so many times to make things work internally but failed.
With just 4 sitting MPs left in Mao’s DP, the party heads into the 2021 general elections almost running an empty nest with a badly beaten image as well to add onto its many troubles.
What next for Mao and DP?
Nobert Mao has to reinvent himself as a politician and he is gifted with the words that can start it. As DP President either he radically reforms his leadership style that has been defined more recently by coining the smartest insults for the party leaders he disagrees with and takes on a more conciliatory approach or he will soon have only his ‘Secretary General’ Gerald Siranda and Vice President Hon. Mukasa Mbide left in the party.
And if his issues with his old colleagues turned foes are so fundamental they can’t reconcile, and he genuinely cares for the party and it’s future, how about stepping aside and letting the party flourish in peace. His wit, great insight and flowery language can still be of value to DP as a former President turned Advisor and ‘distinguished statesman!’
Looking at the bigger picture though, the squabbles that have dominated DP during Chairman Mao’s 10 year Presidency have left a huge blight on his leadership credentials and ratings so much so that his ‘Presidential look’ has greatly diminished!
But as he emphasized in a recent article about the turmoil that has befallen his party, ‘DP shall rise again’ we hope so although he doesn’t look like the man to lead that resurgence for now unless he surprises us all.
One of Nobert Mao’s most famous sayings from years of listening to him is ‘A fish rots from the head’ and if I could turn this around and apply it here, the DP fish needs to reform from the head before it completely rots off Uganda’s political scene.
The author is a senior analyst with aata, polling and consulting Firm Brothers Intelligence LLC WhatsApp:+256701133509 Email: [email protected]