The Diaspora chapter of the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) supported the start of the conversation with Gen Mugisha Muntu. It is a project aimed at informing, educating, and inspiring Ugandans throughout the country and in the diaspora. Today's discussion was moderated by Nada Anderson.
The following section summarizes some of the key points from the discussions, however, most of the details may be found on the ANT Facebook page and YouTube page; where the video is now archived.
The main focus of ANT
We have gone through challenges as a country and as a people for the last 60 years. But we want to see an environment where people are able to apply their God-given talents and skills. The political actors need to play a role in putting the country on track. Investments need to be put into the individual citizen because they are the main actor in the development process of the country. The actors must ensure that there is food security for the citizens to be well fed. Our development program is designed around the individual citizen and we build the necessary environment and infrastructure to sustain the citizen in an economic development process. As we build ANT we try to attract like-minded people; at the core of the development process, we need convinced individuals. Society must be developed first. We want to create an environment in Uganda where individuals can apply their talent, to achieve the benefit in the endeavors to which they apply the effort.
What has changed since I was a young man
The sense of dignity in the people is different now; regardless of if one was wealthy or not, back then you could not compromise a person with money even when they did not have visible wealth. I get a sense that money has been elevated to the point where everyone has a price, people compromise for the smallest amount of money. You could never see that when we were growing up; people had a sense of integrity. A country’s strength depends on the strength of individuals and the strength of individuals is from character and not from money or possessions.
How can we get back on track to initiate the change?
I know there are Ugandans who are willing and committed to the course and who want to reestablish values within our society. The most painful thing is that most of them are not fully engaged in politics, they are standing on the sidelines and sitting on the fence. When the people who want change recapture and participate in the political process the country turns around.
Party strategy moving forward and plans to encourage the youth
We rolled out a pilot project one year ago, in sub-regions, and toured 3 districts and it was successful. Our main focus during this period is to raise the necessary resources. We have got a youth league that works closely with the women league and the mainstream party. The youth are the majority, we want the youth to influence the future and participate in the party they subscribe to. Technological development can be used to our advantage; there must be a political and economic environment that is creative for this to happen. We intend to set up a meritocracy, and have a set of groups to go listen to individuals and this will not be influenced by religious, ethnic, or even religious relations. A conducive environment that encourages the talent of young people is my desire.
Role of the electoral commission in the development of grassroots structures.
Parties who receive government funding must have a member of parliament. I think the government contributes about 50 million shs per head for MPs. This is why we have to advocate for Ugandans to make contributions to parties they believe in, so as to influence the future and do the necessary preparations to build its capabilities.
On Ugandans trusting Mugisha Muntu
You can find my track records. You have to track down the record of an individual and if you find that there are crimes committed on an individual level then do not trust them. If you are not sure then give it time until you are sure. I stand for things I believe in and I am comfortable with people finding who they can trust.
Is there a possibility of democratic transition and change of government?
For those of us involved in the change process, what precedes whatever change will happen is to keep organizing ourselves 2/47. For us to break out of the vicious cycle people need to build parties and participate by building a culture of accountability. If a party is not accountable, how will it manage natural resources? We must keep fighting on a daily to build a culture that has been undermined over a period of time because of mismanagement.
Number imbalances and parliament reforms.
When we reform parliament the biggest problem is the question of the numbers, we need to structure it from different levels. It does not make sense to have a parliament with 500+ members. We need to review the size of parliament by laying criteria for a new structure by incorporating a state of affairs where we believe we all belong and that we are all owners. A party needs a significant number of value-driven individuals at the national level and district and sub-county levels. The solution is here in Uganda.
The peaceful transition of power and your take on Uganda being a federal republic
It is a work in progress, though we have never had a smooth transition except when the British handed over. There must be an exertion of effort to change the environment. The fear paralyses many, and so, we need to reestablish our dignity; if you don’t have dignity, what do you have? Dignity is at the core of an individual’s existence. Anything under the sun can be discussed by the population.
Would you work with the NRM transition government if given the opportunity?
Even if ANT accepted to go and work with them, and I will never stand in the way of the party as an individual, it is important to know the dynamics. The dominant force determines the direction; if the dominant force is of corrupt people, for example, then that is the direction the country will take.
As a former military commander, what is right and what is wrong with UPDF?
UPDF is composed of young men and women who are dedicated to service to the country. Many are highly educated and well-trained in military terms. There is a number of military men and women, who if given a conducive environment, can professionalize that army. They want to see a country that prospers and operates with dignity. Whoever takes power is supposed to give space for the military to be professional.
What can be done to bring the police to perform better
Police services are not well motivated, the resources are misdirected, and the anti-riot department takes a lot of funding. The CID needs resources so people can be investigated and prosecuted in order for there to be justice in the country. When it comes to resources, the long-term focus of the regime is seen through the budget. How will the police force be motivated, recruit, sustenance of the staff, train, buy equipment, etc., when they do not have money?
The mechanism in place for any Ugandan to review the budget of the country as individuals
We are told that it is possible to meet with a minister and discuss issues. The issue though is whether resolve your concerns. The problem is the implementation, the focusing of resources. Ugandan men and women of integrity need to make sacrifices to join and influence the parties they subscribe to. There is no individual or organization that can give you what they do not have. The dominant force determines a lot; the environment is not the best but we need one that encourages our skills.
Why didn’t they vote for you and are you coming back for the 2026 elections?
Many say I do not have “electricity”; they agree we have got organizational capabilities. We have to keep working to convince Ugandans. I would like to keep communicating the message I have. We keep preparing ourselves to take power as a team; I will offer myself and go through party processes. It doesn’t matter if I became the flag bearer. Without us building the capabilities needed on a country-wide basis we may not move far. Many keep focusing on the individual; organizational capabilities are primary.
How is ANT prepared for the Omoro by-election and faith in UPDF being a national army?
We got a candidate Oscar Kizza, and we are trying to organize resources behind him, we will pass on our message and take the seat if this is the will of God. We will build our infrastructure, and bring light to things not being heard at the grassroots level. We want to keep mounting pressure because there is a legal requirement by the law to participate in politics, and we want the commander-in-chief and General Muhoozi to respect these processes. We are not challenging Gen. Muhoozi and he can run for any position he wants to. I noticed he has not gathered the moral courage to do the right thing. We need to build functioning systems, a new culture, and new institutions. The success of a struggle depends on the extent to which citizens are able to say we have a right to question anybody because we pay taxes.
Why did you decide to have different parties, instead of encouraging FDC and NUP to join ANT?
I am in ANT because I believe in the values and objectives of ANT; we want to attract other Ugandans to influence the future along with what we believe in. If the senior actors believe in a different organization because of what the parties stand for, they are free to join those entities. Unity does not mean you must be physically in one party. Leaders who are mature enough will collaborate around a common purpose (unity of objectives). The deficit of maturity, and common interest that drives political actors in Uganda is the issue here. Many political actors are driven by self than common interest. A politician who focuses on systems building, institutional establishment, and a business mindset are what we need. I do not normally pursue those who are already in opposition parties, we are targeting the 42% of Ugandans who did not vote. We want to hopefully motivate them so they can come in. I don’t see a united opposition as a party happening soon but coordinating efforts is possible.
Do you think we have incorruptible people in positions of power?
There are many who are incorruptible but are not in positions of power, there are many in positions of power who have been broken down systematically and deliberately. To bring the country to its knees you have to attack the integrity of the people by manipulating them. Many who could be steadfast in politics remain outside and hope something good happens. There are a number of good men and women in government and there is no way I will mention their names.
ANT road map to resolve issues in the country.
Any opposition party placed into government to solve the problems will start from a weak position because the solutions need to have been built a while back. When there is responsibility in national management it builds results. Applying resources, we have, pumping them to sectors that need to be resuscitated from what COVID did. A skim needs to be created to introduce a feeding program; the money goes into the economy and the sectors are rekindled. It requires focus and discipline. There needs to be a focus of national resources on these areas; support corporative unions by helping them get good returns on investments. You support those on small, medium, and large scales. You also attract foreign direct investment. As the economy grows jobs are created, but we need to work day and night and not only expect this from politicians. We need to discuss how to create a Ugandan management class for resources.
Agriculture and industrialization and solutions to land fragmentation.
We have a comparative advantage in industrialization because we have opportunities along the value chain of agriculture. There needs to be a dual process by any government; getting good returns by investment (the legal, political, and cultural environment) and then putting it into agriculture. Agro-processing needs support too. Once the cooperatives have good resources and management, policies will give an advantage to the economy. Kigezi land is fragmented and there are areas that still have large holdings like in the north and east. A disciplined government needs to work with those from those areas, to design solutions and support is given by the government. Resources need to be brought together to buy machines for processes; we do not have to follow models from elsewhere, we need to design our own.
Russia and NATO crisis and Economy shock from it
Part of the solution to the shock of this war is building fuel and food reserves, and working closely with the regional countries (EAC) to put resources together. We need to work in areas we have seen weaknesses such as the manufacturing of drugs. We need to work closely on the integration process in East Africa because we have huge markets now. We need discipline in building domestic economies and ensuring there is implementation in the common market, the political union to be a powerhouse.
The Russia and Ukraine war is tricky because force should not be used as a tool to influence political direction anywhere. I think Russia needed to use a different method. Ukraine is devastated because Russia is a superpower, and NATO is not going to step in. I do not understand why there was no such expectation; superpower politics still plays a role in world politics. You must see how to operate in an area that has a superpower in terms of creating stability and managing peace. My hope is that EU and the USA working together would see a way to negotiate with Russia for a settlement, which would allow Ukraine to start rebuilding but cooperating with EU. There are people who are dying in the meantime before they reach the settlement.