Ask Mugisha Muntu Dialogue – April 2023.

This report highlights the Ask Mugisha Muntu dialogue, which was moderated by Remmy Bahati and Mordecai Muriisa.

 On the intentions of Gen Muhoozi in Uganda?

The issue of whoever wants to run for president is not complicated. In 2021 we had the highest number of candidates. It was about 9-11 candidates running for the presidency. There can be as many as possible, but they must satisfy the criteria of the electoral commission, as long as you follow the law. Some take it seriously while others don’t. There must be a political culture and order in that people follow the law. We have to keep raising our voices whenever we can. It is not just General Muhoozi but the parliament as a whole. We keep hearing about the aspect of transition, but people are so limited to the change from one leader to another. That is not the transition we are talking about. We are talking about the transition from a culture that we have had for the past 60 years. That is why I will keep raising my voice to General Muhoozi to leave the uniform. This is a question of the law, the moment you decide to move into politics you should follow the law. Look at the perspective from the security angle. There is an army that cannot execute the law effectively. A General intending to run for president without stepping down from his position in the army. What kind of country do you think it is when there is selective application of the law and impunity? I have no problem with him running for the presidency. But I would have hoped that he would have the understanding that he has to build trust between himself and the population. He has to show that he is equal to the task. But when you are campaigning in uniform, contradicting the law how will the intelligent people of Uganda take you seriously? I would expect the educated class to investigate this person who wants to lead the country. In regard to General Muhoozi, him not realizing he has to get out of uniform before campaigning is a big pointer that he doesn’t care about the law. Other Ugandans should make their judgment of the nature of the politicians running for office. What future are we hoping for if people are not interested in the well-being of their nation? I have seen people trying to openly talk about this in movements. This is a question of the law even if others try to bury their heads in the sand; in the end we may pay a big price.

 The issue of the law and iron sheets theft.

It is only logical to run after people who stole the iron sheets. Anyone who breaks the law needs to be charged for that. We have to build a culture in which everyone is required to abide by the law. This is not about leaders but about building a new culture where the law is respected. Everyone must operate within the law.  The country will need a president that follows the law. Why would something like that not be implemented? It is the most basic thing.

 Upholding the freedom and Justice of Ugandans

My biggest fear is not what we say or what we stand for but having a critical number of people who have gone through educational institutions and are capable of standing by what they talk about. For instance, when it comes to democracy, how can you build that without democrats?  Transparency? How do you run a transparent system where there is no accountability and you do not have transparent people? There is no way to prove to people how serious you are. In practice for 60 years, we have not had leaders where beliefs are in line with their actions. That is why at ANT we concentrate on preparing a good number of people who will change the nature of politics. That is why we keep talking about a new culture. The more we keep talking about these values the more we see qualitative change. As we speak anyone can say anything. Everyone will market themselves. The question is where does the balance of forces fall? Under which tendency? The question now is whatever party takes power, what will be the dominant tendency of people who believe in the values we have talked about?

 Way forward for the rule of law.

Two things concerning the law. When General Tinyefuza was released from the army, he wanted to meet opposition parties. I recall this belief vividly because I was the leading FDC at the time. I specifically said, “I completely understand the situation our colleague General Tinyefuza finds himself in. They are trampling on his rights.” At that time, we had a multi-party system of governance. It mattered to me that he was still in uniform. As much as he desired to be out of uniform, he had not been released therefore we would not receive him. There are things we cannot compromise on. To have the rule of law we must create a particular culture. You have to be very mature in how you behave when you are part of the army. An army is the stability of a country.

I never think that nothing is going to happen. I never allow my mind to fall into a pit of disbelief, and however dark a situation is, you keep telling yourself it is not permanent. You must keep working to see a different outcome in your present situation. Ugandans need to know that nothing comes easy. We either surrender or place necessary measures to make sure that whoever leads Uganda should do so according to the law.

 The debate on the Homosexuality Bill

I can give only my personal view on this topic. Homosexuality is as old as history. It has always been there. It is causing the complexities and quarrels that are going on in the world between developed and developing countries. As we speak now, about 30 - 40 years ago homosexuality was never in the open as it is now. Until about the 1970s in the United States did homosexuality become legal. It started becoming a critical issue in American politics. I remember in the institution I was at, up until 2000 plus there was a policy of don’t ask and don’t state. It is coming into the picture recently. In Africa for instance, we need to understand that it is a force between the two. Those of traditional and religious groups. On the question of homosexuality, all of them have got the same stand. In Africa as a whole, there is a common position that is quite rare on the issue of homosexual marriages. We don’t accept that.

The other complex thing I have noticed is that people never targeted homosexuals until now. It is becoming a political issue. However, what is interesting is why something that is not considered to be one of the critical issues is at the center of our politics. My personal view is not to agree to legalize homosexual marriages. I will propose that we affirm when it comes to the propagation of homosexuality in young people which is raising temperatures. Another thing we need to take into consideration is why would someone spend so much money to support the issue at this level. When it comes to individuals who have decided to be homosexuals, I don’t think they should be targeted. There need to be legislatures that protect the security of these people. I don’t also think that they should be targeting their rights. I think we need to engage in this debate and create laws that will protect our interests as well as their security. I think Europe and America are bringing up a disruptive topic and we will wait and see how our country handles it. Primary issues need to be primary, and the rest can come later. I don’t think that the origins are natural. I may be right or wrong, that is my point of view. I don’t think anyone who identifies in that light should be victimized. It should not be promoted either.

Countering fear within the community

What eludes many people is the lack of understanding that words are weapons. That is why most regimes speak because of the power of words and how it impacts the minds of the people. People who know its power as a weapon can put it to good use. When people are quiet, they will become easy to manipulate. Talking is important because it provokes change. That is how we get to experience evolution in the world. What is required is excellent morals and courage. That is why we are building a value-based organization. To build hope when there is none and shine light amid the darkness. Unlike other people who think it can’t work, we believe it certainly can.

 Media control in Uganda.

What we do is create alternative platforms. The most critical thing is to work on changing the reality on the ground. For instance, the Russia and Ukraine war. It doesn’t matter which side you support. There has been so much propaganda and sometimes you may not know what is real. We need to create alternative platforms and speak the truth. You have to listen to all and make your judgment. People can spin things when they are not crystal clear. Here we have to fight until we define things. We work day and night to change the norms of politics revolving around individuals. That is why we are building ANT to reach a point where we look at our stand and capability as a force for society. I have no problem with talking about individuals. I have always had the desire to lead this country. I have the capability and also there’s nothing that can’t be changed. I spend more time focusing on what will help an individual, to undertake the challenges that we face as a country. I know what battles can be pushed to gain popularity. But the focus is to push the community ahead. One human being cannot change the way of the country. That is why we are concentrating on building teams. That is why the good within ANT must be brought to build a team and a new culture.

 Resource challenges.

Resources are a challenge. We need to understand that if we want to see change, we need to invest in the political processes. We will keep trying to mobilize the resources. Every resource that we get we will invest in what we believe in until it becomes self-evident. In the meantime, we will be challenged and held accountable. I hope that what we envision in our minds and work for 24/7 will become clear to people. It takes money to build an organization.

 Closing Remarks.

I would like to thank you Remmy and Mordecai for hosting me. I thank all those streaming online. I ask that we should not give up. Whether of the same or opposite political party. Some things must be common among us. Be it fairness, or transparent systems of managing the law. That is how we will keep fighting to get a good number of Ugandans to shift the forces of change and hopefully positive change. Thank you, and may God richly bless you all.

Report compiled by Enany Georgiana Endeley ANT intern.