The Democratic Party’s (DP) second president Dr. Ssemogerere was buried at Nattale-Nkumba in Entebbe municipality last month with the notable absence of current leader Norbert Mao.
Mao’s absence, who is the Justice minister, raised many eyebrows with some suggesting that the two DP leaders had fallen out before Ssemogerere’s death at age 90.
Speaking to the Nile Post in an interview, Luyimbazi Nalukoola, the DP chief legal advisor, opened up on the contentious relationship between Ssemogerere and Mao.
You have been so vocal on the issues regarding Democratic Party (DP), who are you?
My name is Luyimbazi Nalukoola. I am an advocate of the High court of Uganda. I am a commissioner of oath. I am interested in human rights, good governance, rule of law and constitutionalism. I was born in Kampala here, in the Kawempe Kilokole Zone. I went to Kawempe Muslim Primary School. I also went to Kawempe Muslim Secondary. I went to Makerere University and Law Development Centre.
Why did you reject the DP, NRM cooperation agreement?
I have never participated in any consultation. When we talk about freedom of association, we are talking about people among other things being in political parties of their choice. When we are talking about political parties, we are not expecting dictatorship in a political party. Hon Mao and a handful of people cannot decide for the entire Democratic Party.
DP has organs. It has the National Executive Committee (NEC), it has a national delegates conference, the one which elect members of NEC.DP has a national council. You are a journalist, have you ever heard of DP being in consultation as to whether we shall cooperate with NRM or not? If it was a serious business, why wouldn’t it (Cooperation agreement) have been subjected to consultation within DP? Read the Constitution of DP under Article 27 the powers of the president general. Do you think the president general has powers to make such a big transaction?
DP later organized a NEC meeting that was aimed at addressing some of the internal issues within the party. Why didn’t you attend?
I read the agenda and I saw the address of the president general there. I also read among the items on the agenda a report in respect of the cooperation agreement. Sincerely as far as I know we don’t have a president general. The one we had crossed to NRM. It is one of the reasons why I didn’t attend the NEC meeting. He cannot come and address us as the president general of DP. He ceased to be one.
Where do you see the future of DP in the next five years to come?
The future is bright. We have to continue re-echoing our disagreements and grievances. The history of this country will judge him (Mao) for working against democracy and DP. I am not against Hon Norbert Mao for accepting to be a minister in Gen Museveni’s government. It is ok but he should not go with the party.
Many people have worked for that government in several capacities. When you are appointed, you go on your own. Don’t take the party with you, you will need it later. Don’t take away the platform which has made you shine. Let others shine too. Gen Museveni should tell Mao to leave DP alone and serve him better. DP cannot die by such simple moves of people like Hon Nobert Mao.
How will you remember the late Dr Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere, the longest serving DP president?
He was very calm, sober, and consistent. He always loved the rule of law. At one point when young people especially, the political activists had chosen that path of moving beyond peaceful actions, Dr Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere still advocated for rule of law activities like filing suits in courts of law among others.
He was very knowledgeable about several issues especially in politics, human rights and constitutionalism. He was an exceptional man.
In your view, why didn’t Mao attend the burial of Dr Paul Ssemogerere?
When Hon Mao entered into that deal with Gen Museveni, let me tell you, it was horrible. I remember one morning I drove to the home of Dr Kawanga Ssemogerere, I parked at his gate for almost one and half hours. I didn’t enter because I wondered how he would respond to my worries.
The old man had given the leadership of the party to other generations. Then ugly developments came up that Hon Mao has taken the party to Gen Museveni when I am the legal adviser of the party. Sincerely I didn’t go to the old man (Ssemogerere) at that time because I contemplated something ugly.
Later on, I heard him expressing his displeasure toward what has been done and I believe even Hon Nobert Mao was aware that the old man would not be happy with what he did. And when you look at Ugandans, they were not happy with what Hon Mao did. It was not wise for him at that moment to attend the burial because he was not one of those people who would celebrate the life of Dr Paul Kwannga Ssemogerere since what he did was against the aspirations of what the late was pursuing.
Why are you blaming Mao yet the late Dr Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere also worked with president Museveni?
Let me tell you every case is determined according to each circumstance. The days when Dr Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere worked with those governments including the one of Gen Museveni, it was necessary.
Our country was bleeding. We needed a government which would put together all the people but when Dr Paul realized that Gen Museveni wanted one party to rule among other issues, some being ideological, he left his government and contested against him in 1996.
The circumstances of that time are different from the current circumstances. Here is a man (Museveni) who is about to complete four decades in power. It was necessary for Dr Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere and others to work with him at that time.
For your information, by that time president Museveni was very popular but Dr Paul Kwanga Ssemogerere put up a very serious opposition against him. I don’t think there is any other politician that has done it. You should never underestimate DP even during this trying moment.
Opposition has on several times tried to dislodge president Museveni from power but all attempts have failed. In your view, what could be the problem?
In the first place Gen Museveni was underestimated. They(opposition) never thought that Gen Museveni after all those struggles, would go against Ugandans. They thought he had learnt a lot and that he loved democracy which is not true. They believed in the term limits. The other issue is that mediocre leaders have dominated politics. Many intellectuals who would have played a very great role are nowhere to be seen. Gen Museveni is the one who appoints judges, electoral commission, human right commission, Inspector General of Police. And on top of that we are in biting poverty.
Poverty has not only eaten the common man but also the intellectuals. They compromise their positions, they compromise good principles because of poverty. It is very hard to sustain a great team of intellectuals.
Do you think opposition unity for the common cause is still possible despite several attempts?
What is eating unity is poverty. The other issue is things to do with minor issues like tribalism. When I talk about brokenness, I mean those people who camouflage and meet government agencies among others. Those who secretly work for the sitting government. This is out of being broke. A poor person cannot negotiate. We have intrigue among political actors. Such factors in working against unity among the opposition.
In your view, what should be done in this case?
We need what we call truth and reconciliation arrangements where even Gen Museveni should participate in the same. It should not be for our good but for the future of our nation and children. We can not just pretend as if nothing wrong has happened with this rampant poverty, violation of human rights, and tribalism. Many people fear to talk about tribalism in detail.
We need a good ground to be prepared for removal of the sitting government and a new government. A government which is willing to adopt the modern systems of governance like democracy and good governance.
Lastly, as a human right lawyer, briefly describe the state of human rights in the country at the moment.
It is terrible. My brother, before we talk about police officers, lets talk about a teacher. We are still telling teachers to stop torturing learners. As we talk now on social media there is a case where a lecturer at Makerere University was interdicted because of such acts against human rights.
Before we talk about those armed men, let us first go to our institutions of learning. What are we teaching our youngsters? It took a long time for Mr. President to appoint the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission.
In Uganda here some people are allowed to demonstrate while others are not over the same subject. Can you imagine that human beings can disappear here in Uganda for years. Don’t you remember (2020) November killings?