The Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) hosts virtual monthly conversations (tagged In Conversation With) with Party leaders to inform, educate, and inspire Ugandans throughout the country and in the diaspora. This month, the conversation was with Hon. Winnie Kiiza and moderated by Mordecai Muriisa.
The following section summarizes some of the key points from the discussions, and recordings of the conversation can be found on the Party’s Official YouTube and Facebook platforms.
On the issue of nepotism and future leaders.
I would have told my daughter to run or groom her for office, but I didn’t. I want my daughter to find her place and I am willing to help her do so. However, I have worked with young people in ANT, and I look for capable leaders driven by disciple and who are ready to serve. Leaders need not be motivated by money and this is where the greed for money comes in. One reason I blend well with ANT is because of its values. It is surprising that Museveni wants his son to lead. It is an unfair practice. We want values that believe in Uganda.
On the Constitution of Uganda
There is a Ugandan constitution that has been amended. All institutions have been merged into the hands of one man in Uganda and this is a problem. Museveni has become the institution himself, to the extent that someone close to him has a reason to do whatever they want to do because they have his backing. I am sure that if there was another member in uniform who made the statement like Muhoozi is making, he would not survive the next day; they would be court-martialed. The constitution is there but it only applies when it is convenient. If the constitution was applied, Muhoozi would not be in the army right now. We want him to use this constitution to follow the law, which means resigning from the army, and then he will be praised to keep any office in Uganda.
What should citizens do when institutions are captured by a person in power?
Article 1 of the constitution gives all power to the people to decide on who governs them and how they want to be governed. The same leaders choose to take the constitution into their hands and leave the citizens with no choice. In other countries the citizens riot, in Uganda, the citizens have been made powerless, with every election turning into a battlefield. In November 2021, over 54 people were killed according to government statistics; people were killed by the military in broad daylight. The same constitution gives them the right to demonstrate, but the situation is so bad that at the end of it all people fold their hands and allow them to lead. This is very dangerous. All resources are being used to protect Muhoozi and make sure his desires are met.
What is ANT doing to boost the morale of the masses’ interest in political affairs again?
Many Ugandans think political parties are a waste of time. We are not going to run away from the fact that most political parties in this country are conducting their activities on the un-levelled ground, especially the opposition parties. They are not allowed to recruit members or move up. Many actors think it is not wise to venture into politics as a result. ANT is out to restore hope among the young people including those in the NRM. We do this by preaching the gospel of transformation to the letter, Ugandans know the matter and at the same time transform the mindset of the people. They need to know that institutions can be reconstructed again if the right leader is in office. Gen Mugisha Muntu is an institution builder, a value-based man and many other leaders in ANT are the same. We are looking out for members who respect institutions and have a passion to fight corruption from the root, members who are God-fearing. As ANT we have made it our agenda that everyone we recruit goes through our values and with time the trends will follow; people will believe in the leaders. That is why pledges will be honoured. We are working out a code of conduct as ANT and in the end, we shall have a very good team of transparent, accountable leaders, who value service above self.
How does ANT convince people that we can have peaceful transfer of power through Museveni’s administration?
It requires a lot of organization, talking to the people so they understand that it is possible. Museveni tries to create some fear among the people, and those who want to use violence can throw the country into chaos if they are not serious. In ANT, we want to prepare our leaders for anything to the extent that there will always be a team of dedicated leaders who will put the country back on track and pick up the pace. Therefore we are dedicating all our energies to putting up party structures. If Ugandans are ready and organized, it is very easy to defeat Museveni. As ANT we have the advantage that we have a leader who commanded the army for 9 years; he can still defend the country. He is dedicating himself to other leaders to hold the country together. Museveni can be overwhelmed without necessarily using force.
How do you restore hope to the people?
Many Ugandans are out there who love their country and want to see the best come out of it; they want to also participate in the development and progress of their country. They all want to see a better country; they have not seen a leader different from the leaders they know. This is why ANT is trying to brand themselves as the alternative leaders they know. We are reaching out to people as ANT so it becomes a people’s process; telling them not to leave politics for those who are bad. They need to get out of their comfort zone and we need to attract like-minded Ugandans so we come together to begin to have politicians who put the country above self. With time many Ugandans will appreciate those serving according to principles and sanitising politics.
Your honest assessment on where ANT is at concerning building the party and dreams for the future? (Omoro by-election)?
We are in the 3rd year of ANT's birth, the first 2 years we had ups and downs we moved around the country marketing and popularizing ourselves. We could not move as we would have wanted because of COVID, the president froze political activities in relation to the opposition and not the NRM. ANT has not been able to build structures as much as we wanted. Ugandans need to love their political parties because there is no party that can function without resources. ANT has limitations related to resources and we have not been able to expand; however, there are a few Ugandans doing the best they can. Omoro is one area where we are not established. As ANT we want to thank candidates for showing up. Oscar is a good candidate who has run on values; we are proud of him. We are asking Ugandans to support the parties they believe in so that they can hold leaders accountable, and leaders will not take the political parties as personal institutions. ANT believes that building the institution is the only way to go.
The size of our parliament and issues discussed
To us as the opposition, we have condemned in the strongest terms the administration and the abuse that goes around the institution of parliament. A parliament is an independent arm of government functioning in its own way, but President Museveni has no regard for this. The parliament has 529 members of parliament and out of this, NRM has over 70% of the representation. Even if Omoro was taken by the opposition NRM will still control the parliament; they went ahead using the military to coerce the population. The only way we can have a constructive parliament is by reviewing the constitution. Since the districts are now many, let every district have 2 members of parliament, and let us also remove the army from the parliament affairs. Then we can talk about the calibre of the parliament members, who should be people of good standing in the society. This position is not a job-creating position, it is a people’s parliament. Members of parliament are under capture because they have not recognized the power given to them, and instead, they have accepted blackmail and intimidation from President Museveni. They go to parliament to make themselves happy and not represent the people. The level of helplessness in our population is an issue to be discussed, but as ANT, we are working to restore hope to the people.
The progress of Uganda in gender equality
Uganda is making strides to ensure that there is the participation of women and men in the management of its affairs. We have these issues on paper, we have nice policies that talk about gender equity. When it comes to representation at the parliamentary level, we have 35%. I can say it was arrived at after creating many more districts. Are these numbers tallying with the quality? We need to be bothered with the quality too. The women coming on board are those who do not meet the task and issues concerning women. The same leadership talking about women empowerment locks up empowered women. They have not consistently reserved the groomed women who have experience and do not have offices to show their potential. A lot needs to be done to empower the girl child and women. Schools do not have enablers to help our girls stay in school; sanitary towels prices are too high; poverty levels are too high many parents cannot afford to keep their girls in school. They always make a choice for the girl child to drop out and let the male child go to school, this affects the participation of women at different levels. As ANT, we believe in nurturing young leaders, especially women. Our values are gender and equity; we ensure that all interest groups are taken care of including persons with disability because we all deserve a place in society. The ministry supposed to take charge of women is always the least funded ministry; little has been given to cater for the growth of girls in school, and the hospitals are of low quality to ensure mothers deliver safely. The roles are socially constructed to women, we still have a long way to go to ensure a woman’s place is safe and secure in society. We are in a patriarchal setting and so it is not easy to change this, but we have women who came out of this and they are role models to the young girls.
What is your message to people who live in the presumption that all is well because they can access the national cake?
There are those who benefit from the status, and they will want it to continue. However, their relatives will go to the hospitals that don’t have electricity and will die there, they will go to courts of law and not get justice. Their time, too, will come. We need to come together to create a society that is fair for everyone and one that believes in human beings.
What made you choose ANT and was it easy considering where you come from?
I am one of the people that founded the FDC and started from the reform agenda base and merged with other political groupings and formed the forum for democratic change party and change. We had guiding principles and values we believe in. Joining ANT was a choice I made based on my values. I am happy to be in ANT and I know more Ugandans will understand us.
The economic crisis in Uganda, what is the best policy at this moment?
The president while addressing the nation said we need to tighten our belts and realign our priorities according to our earnings. It is a mockery of the poor of Uganda. He still moves in a convoy of over 30 cars every day. The budget passed by parliament for Uganda state house alone is seven hundred and seventy-seven billion shillings, the president's office has 217 billion. This is the president telling us to reduce expenditure. If I were the president in this situation, we would cut the expenditure of the state house. Why does the state house alone receive more money that the whole country that depends on agriculture as the contributor to the GDP? The realignment of the budget to our priorities is not showing a President that wants to get the country from the economic crisis we are in. A lot of money is wasted on corruption, and even the money being appropriated for Congo when we still have Ugandans sleeping in poverty. The roads in Congo have been assigned 80 billion when we still have our own roads needing support, which are supposed to assist in production boosting. I know President Museveni wants Uganda to remain poor, he does not want Ugandans to be financially and economically empowered.
Comment on Agriculture in your manifesto
This was a manifesto that we were making for Ugandans to let them trust us (social contract). The agriculture bank will get Ugandans out of poverty, they will be able to access loans with low credit. We are aware that our country is an agricultural country, we need to reduce the cost of administration, and then we can get some money to boost the agriculture sub-sector by providing water for production, and nurturing those who are interested in engaging in agriculture. We will not die of hunger because the nature of our soil and weather is favourable. We need to be united to create an Uganda that will work for us by putting the right people in the right places with the right capabilities.