In November last year, President Museveni said that there is no opposition group in Uganda which he cannot defeat, arguing that they have no track record of what they have done on national issues.This was not the first time the head of state was making such statements.
Given the time the opposition has been struggling to remove him from power, it seems Museveni is here to stay, probably forever.
In an interview with The Nile Post, The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) spokesperson, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, said that although dictators around the world always appear to be very strong people, they can easily be defeated if the people are determined.
You made a disturbing statement that Robinah Nabbanja, the new prime minister, is not even fit to be the managing director of a company or a garbage collection firm. Don’t you think you were a little bit harsh and arrogant?
People who don’t understand what a prime minister does, were not happy with the comment that I made. The prime minister is the coordinator of government business. He or she is the supervisor and coordinator of all government programmes, so the prime minister must be above average. So that was what I was saying that this rime minister is not above average and Mr. Museveni confirmed it when he said that he has appointed a cabinet of fishermen.
What parameters have you used to determine that Nabbanja is incapable of coordinating government business?
To be a prime minister, you have to be above almost everybody because your head must be bigger than your thinking and intellect. You are going to be in charge of 45 million people and that is why I said that there is no company in Uganda that can appoint Nabbanja its chief executive officer (CEO). That was not in any way to demean her but talking about her capacity as a person.
Someone who can’t get a job of a CEO in any organisation for me can’t be a prime minister. A prime minister for me is someone who qualifies to help these bigger companies, no wonder Mr. Museveni was grumbling. In America we have companies that are richer than Uganda like Amazon among others because their CEOs are bigger than average, so that is what we need for a country. Dubai was transformed by its leaders not by resources. Nigeria, a country endowed with resources is still poor because they don’t have capable leaders.
Nabbanja has been RDC, MP and minister meaning that she has all the necessary qualifications. What is so difficult about being the Prime Minister?
The statuary qualification of a prime minister is the equivalence of senior six. So every senior six leaver in Uganda qualifies to be a prime minister under the Constitution because the qualification is to be a member of Parliament. She actually qualifies to occupy the position. The issue I am raising is: Is she the best person for that bigger job? That is the question I raised. It is not just a matter of academic qualification.
NRM has started poaching prominent opposition leaders like Joyce Ssebugwawo who wasn’t an ordinary member in your party. Some analysts believe that the move illustrates the extent to which Museveni has infiltrated the opposition. Are you not worried?
What worries me is Uganda, not positions and decisions that individuals are making. Even if all of FDC is bought and it goes to join Museveni, will that change the lives of the ordinary Ugandans? Even if all of us connive and go to work with Museveni, will the lives of people change? Museveni is not solving anything. In fact the money meant for delivering services to the ordinary people is the money Mr. Museveni wants to use to compromise the elite. I am not worried that Ssebugwawo went and joined Museveni because this is not personal. I am worried that Uganda is not getting better.
A member of FDC recently said that the party is well acquainted with opposition leaders who meet president Museveni at night. Who are these moles?
People changing affiliation and political platform is normal. There are people who have left the National Resistance Movement (NRM). John Baptist Nambeshe was an NRM member of parliament, Patrick Nsamba was an NRM but they left. So people can be uncomfortable with an organisation and leave. I have got no problem with anyone leaving FDC, if that person is leaving on the matter of principle. If they are being bribed or compromised for me that is where the problem is.
There have been several attempts by the opposition to dislodge President Museveni from power but all the strategies seem not to be working. Do you think Museveni is using disunity among the opposition to keep himself in power?
Museveni is using the military. We spent the whole of last year being beaten, was he using the division in the opposition to stop us from addressing rallies? The opposition against Museveni needs the population not political parties. The political parties are simply providing the leadership. The population is getting agitated every single day and that is why when you organise a rally, Museveni will deploy military force because he is worried about the population.
FDC tried all means to remove president Museveni from power but it failed. Don’t you think that Ugandans are tired of waiting? How long will the struggle take?
The Libyans fought [Muammar Gaddafi] for 43 years and in the 43rd year, that is when Gaddafi collapsed. Just our neighbours here in Sudan, they fought Omar Bashir for more than 25 years but his time came and collapsed, so was Mugabe, so was everybody. Museveni’s time will come. We have just simply continued doing the right thing, fighting and then preparing to take over the government when it has collapsed but that collapse is imminent.
You recently accused some MPs of betraying you shortly after the speakership race. Is unity among the opposition still workable?
Maybe that was not one of the matters that was so important to them but there will be other matters that we will have to unite. The environment under which we work will sometimes unite us.
When we were fighting for the removal of the age limit, we worked together but we were different organisations. The trouble with Ugandans is to think that opposition is one. In Uganda there is no party called opposition. We have different parties. If there is matter for which we must unite, we shall unite but we are different people. FDC is a different platform, so is National Unity Platform, so is Democratic Party. If we wanted to be one the way you sometimes describe us, we would be under one party.
People claim that the NUP emergence is a big threat to FDC.What do you think?
The threats are against Uganda [Threats from the regime]. People who are in NUP, we have worked together. Many have been part of the people’s government, so there is no threat against the FDC. The threat is against all of us, the threat of the existing government under Museveni.
For me, those simple things don’t worry me, there are people who are in NUP who are not close to Mpuuga like I am, so do you think Mpuuga will now forget about Ssemujju because he has got a new group? There are people in FDC who are not as close to me as those who are in DP because we are the same people.
How are you adjusting to life outside leadership given that you were one of the leaders in the then largest opposition party in Parliament?
I am the FDC whip in Parliament and I am a leader of FDC.
Is there any advice you can offer to the leader of the opposition?
The Hon [Mathias] Mpuuga joined Parliament the same day like I did. He has the same knowledge about Parliament like I do and it will now depend on how he will apply this knowledge to his leadership. I studied with Mpuuga and we met in S.2. He is a very competent person and I think he will do very well as the leader of opposition.