At least a million workers were either terminated or forced to stay home for an extended period due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown following an upsurge in the cases of the virus.
As a result, business owners and vulnerable families continue to cry out for help from the government, with many of them saying such support has not been forthcoming.
Speaking to The Nile Post in an interview, the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT), acting national coordinator, Alice Alaso said many Ugandans are starving now but it is because they failed to listen to them when they went ahead and voted for President Museveni in the January polls.
She also said that the best political decision she made was to leave FDC because she was about to die from ulcers.
As the Alliance for National Transformation, do you think the government has done well in the management of the second wave of Covid-19?
The government has handled the issue of the second wave of Covid-19 in a very shambolic manner. You see when Covid-19 first came, there was a necessity of the lockdown in the first place and the government should have understood that the lockdown is not the cure for Covid-19. The lesson from the first lockdown should have been simply to slow the spread and prepare the country to handle pandemic situations but instead of getting the preparation done, the government went on doing business as usual.
First of all in my view,there was a lot of compliance in the first lockdown. Secondly, Ugandans were patriotic, people donated money and then they [government] borrowed a lot of money on account of Ugandans. The money should have been used to recruit more health workers, to deploy more nurses, and buy more Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).
Opposition has on several times protested the criteria and the amount of money government is giving to the vulnerable. What is your take on this matter?
We have already shared some insights on that but not the details. First of all we think that two things should have been done. Just because some thieves sold bad food [in the first lockdown], doesn’t mean we could not have good food, there are so many people with good food in this country.
Good food should have been delivered because that could have been easy. There are many poor people who don’t own a phone. There are some households with five members, some have seven family members, others have ten, are you going to give all of them Shs100, 000?
We think that the group called vulnerable is larger than what the government is thinking and the criteria used should encompass all the categories.
How many members have you recruited in the party so far?
I no longer know how many members we have because we decentralised the process of registration. We had tried an online application, then we discovered that not many Ugandans have those smartphones and can register online. So we decentralised the process and then later elections came in and disrupted the process. We have branches everywhere across the country, every district now has a branch of ANT.
Many people complain about ANT style of leadership arguing that it is so diplomatic given the nature of our politics. What do you think?
So what do we do? Even if we throw stones, Museveni has been here.Haven’t people tried to go to the city square [to protest]? Has Museveni left? Which one style has worked? Let them advise us on the style of politics that has removed Museveni from power in the last 35 years and then we shall change.
The reason we choose to be diplomatic is that we don’t want people to get harmed because we know President Museveni maximises the use of cohesive instruments of the state. We are careful with our members, we are protective of them. ANT is not in the popularity contest and our objective is to nurture people with the correct message .We want people to appreciate the importance of values-based leadership.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to ANT’s poor performance? The party failed to get even a single MP in the last election.
ANT didn’t perform well and that is true but it’s not because we couldn’t have performed well. I can tell you that there is a caliber of politicians that this country will miss and they were part of ANT candidates. We have proven capacity, legislators like myself. Do you think the woman who has replaced me, who has been keeping quiet for five years is a better legislator suitable for Parliament than me? We didn’t field candidates everywhere but we had fielded very good candidates in some places and I think it was easier to target us. It is not that we didn’t field good people but I think we were targeted.
Why were you targeted because I think ANT is still a young party that is trying to establish itself?
There is a situation where people can make an assessment that the true people who are offering hope, the true people with potential to lead this country out of the mess the National Resistance Movement has brought is ANT. For me I think that was their reading about us but I think even the other opposition parties were targeted.
Where do you see ANT in the next five years to come given the setback it faced in the last election?
Our projection was that within five years to come, ANT should have all its party structures in place and really this lockdown has disrupted us. We had started the programme but ANT within five years would have had its party structures down to the communities.
There have been several attempts by the opposition to dislodge President Museveni from power but all the strategies seem not to be working. In your view what must be done?
Ugandans need to understand the opposition. The opposition in Uganda is making huge sacrifices. To be in the opposition in Uganda is the most difficult decision a politician can ever make. Who ever knew Joyce Ssebugwawo, the one who used to make life for us hard in FDC, calling us all manners of names… would go and work with NRM? The opposition are paying a very hard price and the regime is doing everything to weaken the opposition and to render it irrelevant in the country.
When you see the opposition unable to even unite on a common issue, part of it is the character inside the opposition who have been infiltrated. Secondly, the opposition is weak structurally. We are weak, and we are battered. As the opposition we are doing our best to highlight failure, the corrupt and the excesses of this regime.
Those ordinary Ugandans who are starving now, they are crying because we told them that ‘you are putting in a place bad government, the government of thieves, a corrupt regime. Some of them gave them the votes, now they are crying .They should come on board.
You contested in the last election, unfortunately you were not successful. Some people claim that it was because of the decision you made by leaving the Forum for Democratic Change. What do you think?
I think the best decision I made as an individual in terms of political home was to get out of FDC. Pressure, ulcers, everything was killing me. The house in the FDC had become difficult to stay in together. It was like the marriage that had gone bad and there was domestic violence and I was keeping quiet inside it. So as an individual I am very happy that I left .So I have a lot of peace of mind. When you have peace of mind even if you stay in a grass thatched home but you have peace of mind, you can look after yourself.
Do you expect to contest again in 2026 because some people think it is time for you to leave space for the new generation?
First of all, the reason you are interviewing me is that I am a leader of a political party. I am the overall leader of the party in an acting capacity and so I have never gone out of politics for even one day. I have never become politically irrelevant even for one day. I am more politically relevant than even some members including the one that replaced me because many people don’t even know her name. So I am not about to get out of politics and I see some of my views matter in this country. So anytime a contest is brought up, I will offer my views and the views of ANT.