Disagreements in the Democratic Party (DP) have reached worrying levels after at least 17 of the 32 members of its national executive committee (NEC) choosing to abandon the party have chosen to abandon the party.
This comes days after the party president, Norbert Mao announced at a press conference in Kampala, the suspension of the acting organizing secretary, Shafiq Ddembe and the Ankole region representative, Didas Lukaymuzi whom he accused of forging party cards.
Ddembe and Lukyamuzi are part of the departing group that also has Godwin Angalia (Bunyoro), Alex Chesang (Sebei), Elitia Elia (Vice president for Northern Uganda), Henry Kubal (Karamoja) and Robert Mugambwa (Mubende).
Others are, Samuel Muyizzi (Legal Advisor), Kenneth Paul Kakande (Publicity secretary), Florence Namanyanja (Women leader), Paul Ssembajjwe (deputy Youths leader), Deogratius Kijjambu (Mukono), Ali Kasirye Mulyannyama (Kampala) and Waiswa Mufumbiro (deputy Publicity secretary).
These are joining Sulaiman Kidandala the party’s former organizing secretary who was booted in February, and Mukono Municipality MP, Betty Nambooze who is also the party’s vice president for Buganda region.
The majority of these announced on Friday that they were joining the DP bloc coalition for talks with presidential aspirant also Kyadondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi’s National Unity Platform (NUP) for purposes of forming the People Power Alliance.
This leaves Mao with 11 NEC members namely, Fred Mukasa Mbidde (vice president), Gerald Siranda (acting Secretary General), Mayambala Ssempala (acting National Chairman), Sam Mali (Elgon), Christopher Okidi (Youths Leader), Ritah Nakyanzi (secretary for Youths), Immam Makumbi (vice president for Western Uganda), Grace Pascal Ogwang (Lango), Gilbert Samy (Bukedi), Simon Opoka (Acholi) and Dick Lukyamuzi Ssenyondo (Masaka).
It is still unclear on which side is the party’s acting treasurer who is also Masaka Woman MP Mary Babirye Kabanda and the Secretary for Women, Francesca Amona who has kept away from the party for nearly four years.
Kabanda on the other hand is understood to be on the same footing with at least 13 of the 15 DP Members of Parliament who resolved to work with Kyagulanyi.
In an earlier interview, Mao told The Witness that the current storm is not new to DP but hoped that their disagreements can be resolved.
“It started in the time of Basil Bataringaya [who served as Secretary-General in the 1960s]. Most of these MPs tend to look at their party leaders as political failures who can’t win an election. So, this is not new, it happened during the time of Ssebaana Kizito when they formed the Ssuubi pressure group, it happened again in 2015 with the formation of the TJ [Truth and Justice] pressure group. But we don’t fear building DP afresh,” Mao said.
For nearly five years, the party has failed to fill positions that fell vacant due to deaths or defections. The party suffered deaths of three NEC members namely, Mathias Nsubuga Birekeraawo (Secretary-General), Issa Kikungwe (Treasurer) and Susan Namaganda (deputy Women leader) while its national chairman, Muhammad Baswali Kezaala jumped ship and joined the ruling NRM following his appointment as Uganda’s deputy ambassador to India.
Attempts to fill the positions collapsed allegedly because Mao feared the process would bring in people he doesn’t agree with.
“He can’t convene meetings of the NEC and the National Council because he is sure that he doesn’t command the majority. The management committee itself hasn’t sat since March 12 and you wonder who is running the party,” Angalia said.