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Day May 25, 2012

Where is Norbert Mao of the DP?


Where is Norbert Mao

From the outset, one is likely to think that this is an attack on Norbert Mao who is the Democratic Party (DP) leader of Uganda. However, this is far from it. But as any concerned member of the Democratic Party, I would like to express my worries over what I see as a weak leader in Norbert Mao. The party has no official complaints route for anyone like me in China to comment or express myself. Hence I have used the mainstream media.

Many Ugandans especially democrats were very excited at the election of Norbert Mao on 20/2/2010 as the president of the oldest political party in Uganda – the Democratic Party. He represented the new generation of young leaders in Uganda who were born after independence and now taking on Museveni. This added advantage meant that people like Mao do not have the political baggage and scandals of the post colonial era such as the Museveni’s of today and therefore would appeal to lots of voters/supporters. In essence, Mao’s presidency was expected to make Museveni look like a very old man that needs to retire after all he is being opposed by his grand children. Many Ugandans were excited and could not wait for the new DP to emerge. The new DP I refer to is one which is very hardworking, cohesive, consulting, communicating and articulating its aims and objectives, as well as one that is in touch with the locals on the ground. But to my surprise, Norbert has so far been a disappointment to the party already and to all the neutrals that would have probably joined the DP. Its 2 years since he was elected and there’s nothing one can show that this what Mao as a leader has archived so far.

For one to understand my concerns, one has to look at the measures used to determine whether a political party is growing or declining. I will point out that I will not divulge into figures or statistics as my ability to access credible data is limited. Therefore, I will base my arguments on my understanding of politics, assumptions as well as what we see in the media or hear from those around Mao and his rivals.

Firstly, progressive political parties build and hold onto their grassroots support. One would expect the DP under Mao to be re-building strong bases at the grass roots level but this is not happening. I have not seen or heard Mao and his executive in villages consulting and building or empowering these people but only during the elections. Yet the DP would probably find it the easiest to mobilise people since its values are very close to people’s hearts and it has no history of engaging in killings. The DP has always been fighting for people’s rights and its motto ‘Truth and Justice’ speaks for itself. In addition, the majority of its members or supporters are young people who are energetic and very disappointed by this regime yet they have many aspirations. So what reasons can Mao put forward for failing to mobilise and organise the grass roots supporters against this tired regime? If Mao was already combing the villages, surely the media in Uganda would have reported this and many of us who are now concerned would be either quiet and/or applauding him.

Secondly, progressive political parties unite under agreed values but Mao has failed to unite the DP. For the two years he has been in office, he has failed to reconcile the DP young leaders who connect very well with the voters. These are Ms Betty Nambooze, Mathius Mpuuga, Medard Ssegona and Erias Lukwago, among others. Why has Mao failed to bring these people on board yet they seem to have a lot in common such as attending the same university – not to mention being in the same age group with him? The mentioned above politicians do not have to be in Mao’s executive to rally behind him but surely he has failed to co-opt them yet they are very popular. Has this got to do with his personality? Is he very egoist and not down to earth? Or does he think those politicians have to go looking for him? Well, great leaders recruit and seek support from every where and from everyone who can be useful in advancing their vision for the party. I am sure the above mentioned leaders can help Mao and the DP entrench its support. But Mao has failed to engage and make them useful to the party. A good leader would identify and articulate the values that unite the different factions and concentrate on these as a way forward. It’s likely that the different factions will work together even if when they do not want the leadership or the personalities.

Thirdly, progressive political parties and their leaders effectively communicate the vision of their party but Mao has failed miserably to do this. To this day, many are not sure of what Mao stands for or what his party is trying to achieve? What are his party’s short term and long term aims and objectives? How are we going to measure his success or failure? The DP Mao leads has not even got an official website. Ironically, Mao has a personal website where he regularly communicates to his followers but not the entire DP membership. Mao needs to understand that there is a clear difference between Mao as a person and Mao as a DP president. One might support the DP and not support Mao. By only communicating from his website, Mao is telling us that he is DP and DP is Mao? A good leader is a good communicator and this goes beyond being able to speak 4 different languages. Even John Ssebaana Kizito seems to have been better than Mao in communicating. Ssebaana used to hold press conferences on every Monday from the DP offices where he commented on issues and articulated the DP’s position. At least I know journalists who used to go there and cover these conferences.

Fourthly, progressive parties always need funds to grow and recruit more members. But Mao has failed to fund raise and equip the party with the minimal financial muscle to run a party like the DP. To this day, the DP still has its offices at City House one of the oldest and dirtiest buildings in Kampala. The building is also popular with prostitutes at night! Surely the DP party leadership can afford to build 4 rooms somewhere in outer Kampala to house our offices in a clean and respected area. I am not expecting Mao to use his personal wealth and that’s why I am talking about fundraising not bankrolling the party. If Mao was indeed interested and capable of building the DP, he should have embarked on improving the party finances along time ago. The only time his team tried to do this was during the election yet this needs to be an ongoing campaign.

Fifth, progressive parties and successful party leaders look at the bigger picture and avoid the trivial things. Mao should stop playing the tribal card and concentrate on working to build the party. The few times I have heard him on radio stations, every time his leadership is under attack, he claims that those criticising him are tribalists. This is wrong as he should be open to constructive criticism so that he can improve as a leader. In fact, he makes it an issue by saying the same thing all time. If most of the Baganda did not want him to be the president, they would not have voted for him. Therefore he has the mandate to lead unless he is not confident enough. The Baganda are very tolerant tribe in Uganda.

Timothy Mwaka
timothy_mwaka@yahoo.com

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