The Ask Mugisha Muntu Dialogue – 10 February 2023.
This report highlights the major elements of the Ask Mugisha Muntu dialogue, which was moderated by Agather Atuhaire.
Countering the Challenges likely to be faced in Serere.
We don’t know how the regime is going to react. But if they apply the same madness they applied in Kasese, then it complicates the by-election. However, when you meet challenges, you don’t let the circumstances divert your focus. We always operate from the angle of pursuing success regardless of challenges and difficulties. Even if they keep putting pressure on the electoral commission. We will keep operating to see how to neutralize that and see what the outcomes will be. We keep doing all things necessary in building capabilities and give hope to the population. What scares me most is reaching a situation where people see it as an impossible situation. If human beings looked at impossibility as something that stops them from doing something right then we would still be in the stone age. Look at the war between Russia and Ukraine, people are dying daily. So, if you operate from a mindset saying this is an impossible situation then people will give up their rights and accept to be slaves. We don’t care how difficult conditions are. If people who are dying are still able to say we will fight for our identity, rights, and freedom, then every free person in Uganda should fight for their rights if not, then they have chosen to be slaves. It is inherent for humans to be selfish and want to dominate others. It is also inherent for us to deny being slaves. That is why history keeps unfolding and people keep advancing. That’s the way we will keep operating till things change. At Serere we believe we will go in and win. Whatever our challenges are we will face them and for things that are beyond human control, we’ll leave them in the hands of God.
Partnership with NUP
We reached out to NUP to see if they could back Hon Alice Alaso and I thank the NUP team for backing her. They had meetings and internal analysis on the national level and made the bold decision to ask their candidate to step aside and support Hon Alice Alaso and we appreciate them for that. FDC leaders were not yet in a position to have their candidate step aside. To be honest they must have credible reasons for that. I don’t blame them for that. ANT would not be necessarily uniform in the whole general electoral exercise. It is something we have to work for and reach a point where we can agree and field in joint candidates. But wherever we cannot field joint candidates I don’t think any opposition party should be on the neck of another. To me what we need to avoid is issues that generate friction on a national scale, therefore, divert us from strategic issues and create unnecessary animosity among us. If we keep getting into quarrels, what type of hope are we giving the public? ANT has no problem with FDC seeing their candidate through, they must have done their analysis. What we ought to do is make sure Hon. Alice Alaso goes through. This will not be the last by-election even as we go, we are open to different discussions and interests of other parties. NUP is supporting us and we thank them for that. Anytime we meet them, we exchange perspectives, and different directions and that’s what we will keep doing.
On the regulation of School fees.
I am not so sure that any short-term measures could be taken that would have a deep impact. The only way I see this being regulated is by looking at it in two ways. There are government schools that charge higher fees and have good levels of education and also low levels of education. The only way to fix that is to have injections of resources into government schools. To ensure all government schools have good teachers so that the standards of education are good to an extent that the government does not have to charge high fees. The option of government schools was because of the performance across the country and the option of private schools was not heard of. But now, people who have money won’t go to government schools. I don’t see how they can enforce some proposals from the government. Some of the reasons why the schools are asking for higher fees is to sustain themselves. Before the government put pressure on private schools, they need to solve the question of high fees in government schools. Hopefully, they will be able to do that. They need to lift the schools that are low standards to high standards of education and manageable fees in government. When that is done, the ones in private schools would be less attractive making an involuntary decrease in fees for private schools. Some of the proposals are temporal and I doubt if they will work. We have a parliament that is full and should not be in office. Politics has become a refuge for people who are looking for money. The public-minded are hiding because they fear. So we are stuck in this situation. Until people who are public-minded come into the arena of politics, we will keep seeing all these crises.
Comments on Kadogo
I don’t have statistics because I can’t track those who were at Kadogo. But one thing I know is we created schools for them. We ensured that they got a good education on all levels. It will need someone who researched to know those who went to those Kadogo schools. To know where they are at. Maybe one of these days I could learn from Major Polar Awich. He would possibly know those who made it up to higher ranks. I can’t be a good source of information on this but it would be interesting to know. Those who had capabilities and were talented in the education area had access and made it to university.
NRA and civilians
People talk about wars of reparation. I can tell you that wars of reparation can have a lot of costs on the civilian population and armies. As long as there is political contention, civilians will not build a new political culture. So, whoever is focused on the past in whatever period of the 62 years, my advice would be let’s concentrate on how to be better. Let’s learn from the past and focus on how to shape the world to be better because if we don’t, what happened in the past could come back. This doesn’t mean we erase the past but rather learn from it.
The Relations between ANT and FDC
When we were about to separate, we talked about reconcilable differences and what we meant then as now. In the methods we were using internally, a significant number of leaders were looking at civil disobedience as a main method for removing the regime. I recognize that as a legitimate tool for expressing grievances. Those of us who are focused on establishing our capabilities on the grassroots level and therefore becoming a springboard for knocking the dictatorship at the top, the methods became intense and we failed to manage it, so we decided that the delegates had voted. They said we need to decide on one strategy because there are two, the one we determine is that which we will use. Our beliefs were going to take a long time to reach their optimal goal. Every party has the legitimate right to use whatever strategy they want. So instead of fighting that our beliefs take the primary role in the party, we decided to start afresh and to me, the matter was resolved. Because FDC remained with leaders who believed in civil disobedience, we who moved out believing in the grassroots approach.
Gen Mugisha’s possible involvement in the regime of Museveni?
Well, I use two ways of explaining this. One; I use different methods in terms of how I prosecute the strength that can move this regime. Maybe that is what makes me remain out of harm’s way. I could tell you that if I move to the city square and mobilize people to move to parliament, it is legitimate. I believe in it but I don’t use that approach so that puts me in a vulnerable position which makes people think if I am not arrested then I must be operating for the other side. That is why I say leave things to time, time explains a lot of things. I only do things that I see to be right whether people understand me or not.
What do well-wishers need to do to contribute to the success of ANT in Serere?
We have had the opportunity to have several young people in the region, so we are well covered. Our biggest challenge is logistics and finances so any well-wisher who would love to see ANT’s first member of parliament should contribute regarding that. Anyone of influence in areas of security or government should wake up and start a new direction, we don’t want something to trigger us before we do. Those who can publicize please do.
The building of democracy in Uganda
We believe in building democratic systems of governance within the parties because they are the vehicles of governance. Therefore, the extent to which a party is democratic is the extent to which a country will be democratic. Parties are the ones that run the affairs of government. Therefore, in ANT, I don’t see where we have left from that path for instance. In Serere, the by-election came because the government had lost a life and it suddenly became vacant. Several people reached out to her [Hon. Alaso] to run and so she did. She made an announcement that took effect. We decided at headquarters and another had shown interest. So, we set up a meeting, did an analysis and therefore made a decision. You can’t build democracy without democrats. If we want to see this country succeed we need democrats. Talking about democracy is one thing but practicing it is another. As parties contest for changing power, they also have to prepare themselves on how they are going to create an environment in which democracy serves good governance. Rather than what we have been hearing since 1962. We need to engage in how we build democracy in our country.
Report compiled by Enany Georgiana Endeley Intern with ANT