Some Democratic Party leaders have not warmed up to the mainstream opposition’s push for a joint candidate come 2016.
DP Vice President (Buganda) and Party Whip in Parliament Ssebuliba Mutumba has urged caution. Twice, Ssebuliba has told DP conferences in Masaka and more recently at Kyannamukaaka Community hall on July 20 that the party needs to be cautious about allying with any group.
He said DP should instead concentrate on consolidating its support in Buganda. Earlier this year, DP together with other opposition parties with parliamentary representation namely, FDC, UPC, Jeema and CP, answered a civil society call for free and fair elections and a push for electoral reforms. The parties are also discussing the possibility of fronting a joint presidential candidate for the 2016 general elections.
“We don’t have to rush into making alliances with any group because previous attempts instead promoted [Col Kizza] Besigye [former FDC president]. What DP needs to do is to source for good and marketable candidates such that we can increase our numbers in Parliament,” Ssebuliba reportedly told the Masaka district DP conference on May 17 at Masaka Social Centre, Bwala.
In the run-up to the 2011 elections, DP opted out of the Inter-Party Coalition (IPC) that leaned towards a joint opposition candidate. Days to the nomination day, UPC President Olara Otunnu also withdrew from the arrangement, leaving FDC, Jeema, CP and SDP, a breakaway faction of DP. Political party heads called a July 21 meeting at the JEEMA offices in Mengo to discuss Ssebuliba’s remarks.
Some principals to the coalition talks say that Ssebuliba’s views could be a sign of a disconnect between DP President General Norbert Mao and some party leaders.
“Some of our colleagues are looking at short-term benefits of being an MP and forget that we should strive to have a complete transformation of political and electoral systems and processes,” a party leader who declined to be named said.
The party’s legal Aisor Fred Mukasa Mbidde told The Observer on July 24 that Ssebuliba’s views are coming to the fore because DP leaders are not fully informed about the progress of the coalition talks.
“What Hon Ssebuliba is doing is to mobilize and consolidate DP support in Buganda because the same is going on in northern Uganda so that during negotiations, we can ring- fence DP interests in Buganda and the north particularly the Acholi sub-region,” Mbidde said.
DP holds more parliamentary seats in Buganda in the opposition and also holds some sway in Nwoya and Gulu districts. That explains the party’s interest in Buganda and Acholi.
“We are committed and moving with a single voice, a uniform campaign strategy and policy proposal [manifesto], because we understand that we have a common opponent,” Mbidde said.
“It is only the particulars that will be discussed like the criteria for arriving at a single [presidential candidate], proposed reception of defecting NRM leaders and how they shall be incorporated within our ranks and the criteria for listing candidates for the various parliamentary and local government seats,” Mbidde added.
Ssebuliba said last week that his message was misunderstood, although several sources at the conferences confirmed he made the controversial statements.
“Let anyone come out with a recording of me making such statements… I think it is the work of some [elements] that want to disorganize us,” Ssebuliba said.
“What I said is that DP can’t go into any coalition when we still have some petty internal fights people are fighting each other over posts, some of us are working with Jennifer Musisi [in KCCA] against the common opposition interests, some DP leaders are too selfish and all they are looking for is soft life,” Ssebuliba added.
Source : The Observer