Norbert Mao, the Democratic Party (DP) president general and the Ugandan Minister in charge of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, has fired back at haters, including some leaders of the political opposition, after President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni told a local television station that he had not discussed the issue of transition with him.
Mao is a member of the Ugandan opposition, leading one of the country’s oldest political parties. But in July 2022, he joined Museveni’s government as a cabinet minister. Mao did not necessarily cross over to the president’s ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). In fact he has maintained his position as the top most leader of the Democratic Party despite calls from some of his political organization’s leaders to resign from the party and go serve Museveni and his NRM government in peace.
Before Museveni appointed Mao, a former Gulu LCV Chairman and presidential candidate, as a minister, the two principals and the political parties they lead held talks (that reportedly spanned many months). The discussions between Mao and Museveni culminated in the signing of a cooperation agreement between the two leaders and their political organizations. But several opposition politicians criticized the the agreement Mao signed, with some like Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago calling it a sales agreement that would kill the DP.
Following the signing of the agreement, Norbert Mao waxed lyrical about how his new deal with Museveni would be a springboard for Uganda’s much-needed political transition, a change of leadership that would be the country’s first peaceful handover of power from one president to another. Since Britain handed her independence 60 years ago, Uganda has not known any peaceful transition. Mao has been telling the world that his accepting a ministerial job will help the country realize its dream of a peaceful succession from the Museveni regime that has ruled Uganda for nearly four decades.
Yet when Gen Museveni talked to KTN News and NBS TV this week, he told the two partner stations’ reporters that he had not discussed the transition question with Norbert Mao, making it appear like he was trashing the DP leader’s and his Justice Minister’s talk about a peaceful power handover, pointing to the likelihood that things could have already started falling apart, and that the deal between Museveni and Norbert Mao could already be going wrong and bad. (Read Details Here).
Norbert Mao has now responded in the manner he is known to respond during the times many think he has been pushed against the wall: with confidence that he is on the right track, that things will eventually work out, and that his critics are dishonest and incompetent. Mao did not spare NBS TV, suggesting that the Naguru-based station could have been just interested in boosting its ratings.
Norbert Mao suggested that he had already succeeded in ensuring that the issue of transition wins the attention of those who matter in Uganda and that no body will easily pull this item off the national agenda. “If the hype (making mountains out of molehills) about President Museveni’s interview aired by NBS TV was to push up viewership, then it was a great success. Transition is now out there on the national agenda. ‘Never will the pullers-down be able to cope with the builders-up,” Mao responded to critics.
He also insisted that the issue of a peaceful transition from Gen Museveni to a new leader was part of the cooperation agreement he signed with the 78-year-old president and that the next step will be agreeing on the details of the transition to a new Uganda. “Political transitions can be initiated either from within by incumbents or by outside groups. The means vary. DP’s goal of a ‘Peaceful Presidential Transition’ is in black and white in the Cooperation Agreement. What is left is to mutually discuss its modalities in detail,” said Norbert Mao.
You can read the full cooperation deal agreement between Gen Museveni and Norbert Mao, word by word HERE.
The DP leader also took a swipe at opposition leaders in Uganda, saying they were not competent enough to steer the nation ahead after Gen Museveni has handed over power, and accusing them of not being honest. “I have been in Ugandan politics long enough to judge who is honest and who is dishonest. I can state without any fear of contradiction that some of my fellow opposition party leaders are incurably dishonest and that is why they’re unfit to lead change. Ugandans know them!” claimed Norbert Mao.
Before he was appointed minister, Norbert Mao had bitterly been attacking Bobi Wine’s NUP party, claiming it was sponsored by the state and that its leaders work for Museveni and his NRM government. But Bobi Wine and his NUP party have vehemently rubbished Norbert Mao’s allegations, and his crossing to Museveni’s government seemed to reportedly provide them more fodder to criticize him. (Read Stories Here and There).