IN CONVERSATION WITH HON. GERALD KARUHANGA - 22ND APRIL 2022
The Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) initiated a monthly series tagged In Conversation With on the 22nd of April 2022. This party activity, which features key persons in ANT, aims to inform, educate, and inspire Ugandans throughout the country and in the diaspora about ANT. For the month of April, we had ANT’s Hon. Gerald Karuhanga moderated by Nada Andersen.
Give me something about yourself that cannot be found online.
I am a staunch advocate for justice and fairness. My character is shaped by the aspirations of an ordinary person.
If we are to ask your friends about you, what would they say?
What they tell me or what I hear is that I am quite persuasive, and very insistent when I love to push for the opposition. They are appreciative of my personality because once I put my mind to something important, I will push until I get to the conclusion.
What happened when you were in parliament dating back to the election time
I was honoured with an opportunity to serve for two terms. Serving as a youth parliamentarian was a unique experience. During the election period, many colleagues went out of their way to try to convince me that it was practical for me to win as a first-time independent youth parliamentary candidate and I told them that God has His ways. It was very challenging running as an independent candidate because it meant that I was largely on my own. In 2011, I was elected to join the ninth parliament.
How can a constituency remove a member of parliament who is not serving well?
It was previously possible under the 1995 Ugandan constitution under the clause of call for the record of a member of parliament, but our young constitution has had so many amendments, including the removal of that clause, leaving voters largely disempowered. Since then, if a member has five years in parliament they have to finish serving.
What did you commit to your memory about elections in the municipality and what are the feelings that you chose to carry for the future given the experience?
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to run again for the Ntungamo parliamentary constituency position. I do not believe it was a free and fair election, otherwise, I would be a member of parliament again. It is sad to note that the very young men and women that joined the forces to change our country, determined to protect and defend their country have consistently been used to manipulate the very foundations and framework that constitute our country. I think what really transpired in Ntungamo and probably in a number of other parts of the country because we saw for ourselves was largely a semblance of an election. I hope and believe that the elections in the future as we push on with the struggle will be free and fair and deliver leaders who will stick promote the interests of the country and the citizens.
Your family’s attitude towards your political activities.
My family had issues with me way back as a student leader and me being in politics. But now, thank God, they appreciate my position that everyone must live for certain aspirations, and they supported me in what I do. The two previous elections were really quite complex because my mother and some siblings were tortured but they appreciate the fact that one has to make sacrifices in the circumstance for us to get somewhere better.
Are you going to be even more resolved than before to return to parliament?
My deeper reserve is so much about the progress of our country than my attaining the parliamentary seat or any position in government. I may choose to run or not to run, but what I’m very sure of is the energy, consistency, morale, vigour, and rigour to push as much as one can to ensure that our country gets on a democratic path.
Key achievements in Ntungamo municipality as a parliamentarian and your unfinished works.
The things I embarked on in Ntungamo were about 30 projects in 5 years, including equipping constituents with irrigation skills to pilot coffee growing, gifts for the best teachers and students to motivate them in their journeys, we built a secondary school, and among other things, 70% of the people in my municipality did not have portable drinking water but we have been able to resolve those issues.
Continuity is important, I am hoping that the person who has stepped into the position will ensure that we still we have a lot of projects going on including the streetlights. With the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) government in future, we will have the entire country light up with streetlights and I am glad we have pushed for the reopening of five new roads. Looking at the spirit of our party we have every reason to engage the current elders and share these projects with them but also make sure they are completed.
I would like to appreciate my party’s leadership for the work they have done and their participation in the previous presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections. ANT is deeply entrenched in values, so we believe in very particular values, one of them being transparency which goes together with accountability. These words are enshrined in our constitutional framework as a party. We emphasize the aspects of accountability and good governance, and we strongly adhere to these values.
What is the vision of ANT, where are you taking us?
Ugandans should pray that ANT obtains power as soon as possible. For the first time, Ugandans are going to witness leadership that represents them; our party is centred around the people. We will see Uganda’s resources being used well; we will see democracy, and leaders that have been elected in a free and fair process. We will see an electoral organization that we all can trust and is independent. The police, the judiciary, the legislature and when a law is processed in parliament, we will see that it can be established. Our party is focused on the dreams that we all hope for and long for. We are saying entrust us with this mobilization and come and participate from different levels. If you are an elite or you have an office, you have some resources, if you are a young man or lady, your time is needed. We are here to move with you and ensure this country reaches its godly aspirations.
What is the position of ANT on abortion, taxes, and foreign policy?
Our party strongly believes the family is the basic unit of society. We believe that this person stems from somewhere, we cherish and respect family values. On taxes, we believe that every citizen should pay his or her share of due tax. We believe in the effective utilization of these taxes being the informative position to the citizen level and the persuasive position to the citizen level. We strongly cherish the idea that citizens do not have to be pushed hard to pay taxes, they pay because they will see what their taxes are doing (effective utilization of resources in a transparent manner). On foreign policy, Gen. Muntu rightly says you cannot give what you do not have. We want to interact with people the way we run the affairs back home. If we are not corrupt and transparent this gives us credence and latitude in engaging in Africa and beyond. Our foreign policy is directly linked to our domestic policy, we don’t believe in painting pictures that are not real. I believe Uganda has a special opportunity to achieve what people hope for. We have to do much more to relate with other countries seriously.
What is your position and ANTs' position on tribal issues?
It is sad that in the 21st century, we still look at national issues, national affairs, and interests of the nation and beyond through tribal lenses. It is unfortunate because this goes back to the destruction of the bedrock that unites us as a country. We have disagreements and that’s fine, we argue in the hottest ways. We must know we are one as a country. Corruption is corruption regardless of who does it. If there is unemployment the whole country will suffer. If we do not witness a free and fair election, the entire country suffers. I think we are lucky as a country because we are made up of so many tribes and languages and what should unite us is the fact that we are Ugandans. If each tribe that is recognized in our constitution decided to treat itself as a particular grouping alone, we would end up in a crisis. When people come together from different backgrounds you tap into a lot and learn from their previous generations, becoming a push factor for the progress of the country.
What do you think of DRC joining the EAC, what is going to change?
The more people are united the more there is less conflict, and we focus on what is more constructive. I hope that this is a huge step in ensuring stability and peace, especially in Congo. If the EAC leaders come together and put their thoughts together and engage meaningfully then stabilization is possible. I hope that there is genuine meaningful engagement and that it is not just putting up faces for show; we would love to see peace in Congo. There was a huge flow of refugees recently but no one ever wants to be a refugee. To see people, abandon their own land and flee to a country means that there’s a lot going on and they can’t stand it anymore, so much so that they must run away to save their lives. If the regions are more empowered and have more income, we will be able to progress together.
How can people realistically support the work of ANT on the ground?
There are so many ways we can receive support as a party. We hope people can participate in our activities; the party is an organization of the people, and we cherish democracy. We want people to show up to the structures we are building, and show up to mobilize. We know that not everyone is able to run for a political office, and so, they can provide those who do with resources. We published our numbers for people to use mobile money and bank accounts for people to contribute financially. We believe there are people out there who are highly knowledgeable; they can be from the media, private sector, and academia. The party believes in transformation and that there has to be consistent engagement. We hope people can engage in writing and publications as well. We hope people will engage in a conversation with us to know about what we stand for as a party, while also sharing approaches and ideas they think will transform our country.
Why should the youth join ANT, and where is the space to serve the party and the nation?
The party to work with is the Alliance for National Transformation. The spirit of the organization is to inspire and mentor young leaders. We are a receptive party to young leaders. Hon Alice Alaso, our national coordinator as well as other leaders in the party are open to youth. We are an open-minded party, and we believe people must be engaged at different levels. I want the young people to join ANT because we are building something good.
How is ANT connecting to like-minded parties?
We believe in relating because it gets our ideas involved and we share approaches with each other. To this end, we connect with other organizations nationally, continentally, and worldwide. We still believe that as we continue to build, people will appreciate what we stand for and take Uganda to the next level. We are also focused on building the organization internally.
The possibilities of getting involved with the Pan African and Non-Aligned movement.
We have a country that is still going through challenges, yet we must relate with our brothers and sisters in the rest of the world. Ubuntu means I am because you are, and it’s more about us, not just me. In this way, we believe there is an importance to participating in pan Africanism. The greater engagement beyond pan Africanism is more in relation to what our people are as opposed to wanting to focus on labelling ourselves now. If we label ourselves and choose to just belong right now, I think we might lose time and waste efforts. We think it is good to focus on the aspirations of our people and a thorough engagement with the party members. We think that the priority is building the party.
How do you intend to deal with voter apathy?
One reason Ugandans are apathetical is a lack of trust and confidence in our leadership as a country. We are telling Ugandans that we are a team of individuals that highly love to see a country run in a transparent manner. We offer an alternative in the sense of real change. The change will happen, and our role is to convince you guys of the importance of participating in elections. We must build this team of credible leaders at the local level too. We want Ugandans to feel they can finally go back and vote, because this is a credible team that can handle Uganda. While many may think it will take long, I think it will take a short time because good has a way of finding its place and it happens all the time. We are pushing to see Ugandans regain confidence and hope, and work to transform our country.
What makes you feel so close to the people and confident that change will come with ANT?
Over a long time period of time, I have engaged with people and have heard they share the things that matter to them. People also say that if this party – ANT – persuades like-minded people, there is hope that we can bring about change. Our hope and trust are we the people. I am a student of politics by choice and engagement. People have been hopeful for a peaceful transition. I believe Ugandans are looking out for that team of leaders to work with. I believe ANT offers this opportunity.