The people from the central had a fallout in 1958. The staunch Baganda desired a Buganda that was independent of Uganda whereas the elite catholic Baganda wanted a unitary state. The latter formed a party that would front the idea of a unitary state. These were regarded as treacherous Baganda for rejecting the idea of a state where the Kabaka would be the leader of an independent Buganda. Such was the backdrop of the formation of the Democratic Party.
Although it was popular in the start as evidenced by its winning of the 1961 elections, DP was strained by its sectarian foundation for the rest of History. That Kiganda-Catholic foundation caused the party to be alienated. To this day, DP struggles because it had to prove that it had long lost its sectarian origins.
During the 2010 DP presidential elections, Nobert Mao was voted in despite contentions from within the party. The outgoing President, John Ssebaana Kizito, fronted Mao in an effort to show that the party was no longer sectarian.
Today, Ssebaana’s choice for President has overseen the downfall of Uganda’s first political party. In his reign, renegade opposition politicians have deserted him. The likes of MPs Medard Ssegona, Joseph Ssewungu, Betty Nambooze, Muwanga Kivumbi, Brenda Nabukenya, Allan Ssewanyana, Mathias Mpuuga, Moses Kasibante, Sempala and Loard Mayor Erias Lukwago have left the party. Lukwago joined the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) whereas the others joined the newly born National Unity Platform.
Clearly, the wrangles of the seasoned party have cost it dearly. A mere look at those names, one wonders which seats DP will retain in Parliament. Those are the people that resonate with the voters, especially in Masaka where DP has had its stronghold for years. Mao remains in his lonesomeness as he faces 2021.
The unfortunate thing for DP is that Mao is unapologetic. He likened Lukwago’s departure to the digestive system; where the filth is excreted after retaining the nutrients. As a man full of smart quips, this lacked insight. With the members that have left his party, who are we to consider as the nutrients. Or, is he operating in the context where the nutrient has become the excrement?
The best that Mao’s DP can do is come fourth in the upcoming elections; both on the presidential and parliamentary stages. Even when NRM loses seats, the number isn’t substantial enough for them not to come first. As for the presidential election; the man may just as well die in power!
With the kind of traction that the National Unity Platform has gained, they are surely to rank second; at least in the presidential elections. They may still have a distance to cover before they can beat the likes of FDC in Parliament. However, they have done a great job attracting both the intellectual and menial minds. With their steals, they have a good chance at besting DP in both the presidential and parliamentary elections come 2021.
FDC, in my view, has dropped down into third regarding their popularity in the presidential race. The party has been drowned by the noise from the People Power movement. The call for change has been rejuvenated by the red coloured platform in a manner that is more appealing in comparison to that of their blue counterparts. Their communication is towards a demographic that forms approximately seventy percent of the Ugandan population.
This puts DP, given its leadership and resources, in fourth. In other words, even if Mao was to employ sorcery, he wouldn’t be able to beat the long-standing favour of FDC and the raging popularity of NUP and its interim President. Yet, this is if they were to do their best!
Realistically, DP’s arsenal has been drained dramatically; so much so that their chances would still be questionable if they were against the 19-year-old independent. Mao’s leadership has been put in the spotlight. His tactics are driving out his best soldiers. What’s a commander without his best generals?
Mao’s claim that the treacherous quitters give the party room to reinvigorate its principles in new blood is equivalent to him screaming in a vacuum. Unfortunately for him, the calibre of members that are leaving the party cannot be replaced by youth recruits. Whatever youngbloods he brings on board cannot save the party. It will take years, if not decades, for the party to recover. In the meantime, other parties are gaining popularity in the masses.
With the birth of NUP, DP is at risk of becoming a relic in the political sphere. It gets worse for DP as Mao seems at odds with other opposition groups. Also, the fact that members escaping DP are joining the strongest opposition groups means that DP is ideologically, or at least fundamentally, opposed to them. As such, it has to deal with its crises as well as the external competition for political office. All the while relying on drained intellectual resources.
Mao’s leadership has been undressed. Whereas he is fond of using artistic quips to criticise the government on the NBS Frontline program, he has failed to apply his seemingly immense wisdom to save his party. This exposure has diminished any hopes Mao had of a shot at the presidency.
His failure to administrate a party calls into question his ability to govern a country. It now seems that under his presidency, Uganda would be prone to political and military deserters. What’s that thing Jesus said again; ‘take the log out of your eye before trying to remove a speck from your neighbour’s’!
Now, Mao will watch as the disloyal politicians make progress! He on the other hand will be left, under the best of scenarios, to rebuild a party that he has sunk. If DP is to become the party that it was in 1961, it may not be under Mao’s leadership. Perhaps, it is the elites’ turn to attempt a merger with UPC. Or maybe, Mao’s first youth recruit should be the 19-year-old. That one could have some metallic balls (forgive the language)!
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- Joel Kenneth Ndawula is a Student of Law at Uganda Martyrs University Nkozi. He is an inspired writer, the editor and author here; a blogger of sorts.
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