Uganda can only progress without Museveni, says H.E. Bobi Wine
Dailyt Monitor’s Derrick Wandera caught up with NUP’s Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, aka Bobi Wine, about the post-election period, the speakership race, and his stake on maybe another Museveni era.
Bobi wine You recently said you took part of the government in the elections. Does that mean you have finally conceded defeat?
No. We were not defeated, we won this election, but not everything we won was given to us. For example, I won the President seat. I am the president-elect of Uganda, but I was not declared courtesy of the military, the Electoral Commission and other machinations. And Gen Museveni is still holding my lawful position using guns.
But not only [was] the presidency [stolen]. Other positions like Member of Parliament (MP) … mayors like in Entebbe and others were not declared [winners]. But because of too much vigilance, the loopholes in the [ruling National Resistance Movement] NRM [were exposed and] some of our people were declared [victors].
Bobi wine, Are you happy with what you got?
Of course, I am not happy. I have said it in the beginning and still say it now that for as long as we still have Gen Museveni ruling over this country, everything else is in vain. We are not happy because I am supposed to be preparing to swear in [as President] and move to Entebbe [State House]. But look, I am stuck in Magere.
Bobi wine, What did you expect the outcome of the elections to be?
I expected two things. I was not blind to the fact that all institutions have been compromised, but I knew that we would be announced [winners] because we were winning with an overwhelming majority and everyone saw that.
Two, we also expected to be able to expose the reality that is on ground. We won but we were not announced. But we succeeded in exposing the truth about Mr Museveni. You have seen many nations in the international community castigating Mr Museveni’s regime.
The European Union and the United States have not recognised Mr Museveni and they have slapped sanctions on his officials … not just for human rights violation, but for the disrespect for the democracy. This means that they don’t recognise him as the President of Uganda and that is a win for the people of Uganda.
Bobi Wine, After elections, you called the country into mass peaceful demonstrations, what was your objective?
The objective was to constantly and continuously show the dissatisfaction of the people of Uganda to gun-rule and we largely succeeded. Of course, the Museveni regime has always responded to every peaceful statement with violence but I must tell you that peaceful protests in various ways continue up to now in Uganda and other parts of the world.
For example, those visa sanctions are because of the peaceful protests that have been put all over the world. Our ICC (International Criminal Court) petition is being supported by those protests and we know that there will soon be more fruits.
Bobi wine, And how does that help a Ugandan?
Everything that contributes to breaking down dictatorship in Uganda, everything that elevated people over guns is a success to the people of Uganda. I believe that the sanctions will certainly help. All dictators begin by sanction because one sanction comes after another and ultimately the dictators come down crumbling like a pack of cards.
Bobi wine, Shortly after the elections, you posted on your Facebook page that friends had gifted you an armoured car. As we speak, it has been slapped with fresh taxes of more than Shs300m. Had they/you evaded taxes?
The problem here in Uganda is persecution [by] Museveni and his hangers-on. That car was bought for me by friends and family and the taxes were fully paid in the names of the person who shipped it here.
But as soon as the car was transferred to my name, the regime came for it. The regime has come for everything that bears my name; my properties in [city suburbs of] Kamwokya and Busabala even recently here [in Magere], they are trying to use people to throw me out of my house.
That is persecution. The right prices were paid for that car, but because it is my car, they impounded it and slapped me with new taxes. These are some of the things that dictators do. If you read a book titled, Dictatorland, (The men who stole Africa, authored by Mr Paul Kenyon), you will discover that all dictators have the same tricks and same script from which they read.
Bobi wine, You say you are still fighting to reclaim your stolen ‘victory’. What are the timelines and how do you measure success (when Mr Museveni is due to be sworn in for the new term)?
In the fight for freedom, there can never be a time frame. When I got into the struggle three years ago, I didn’t know that I would be a president-elect in such a short time. [Electoral Commission results for the January 14, 2021 poll show that Mr Museveni was re-elected with 58 per cent while Bobi got 35 per cent of total valid votes – Editor]. When I went into the elections, I knew that I would win but I also knew that Gen Museveni would use his machinations to do what he did, but little did I know that he would go to these heights.
So, I will tell you that as always, dictators never know when they will fall but they always do. The fight for freedom is not a sprint, but it is a marathon and … I know [he will] fall sooner than later.
Bobi Wine, If this pushing out the dictator drags on until 2026, will you run for President again?
I am not looking at running for president. I was elected in 2021; so, that is what we are fighting for now. Before we even think of five years, we should think of now. Five years is way too much time to give to Gen Museveni. Because every day, month, or year that Mr Museveni rules us, more children die, more unrealistic taxes are slapped on people, more people are abducted, sectarianism [worsens] and so many other things happen.
Bobi Wine, We are a few days away from ushering in a new Parliament and by virtue of your victories in the parliamentary elections, your National Unity Platform (NUP) party is supposed to take Leader of Opposition in Parliament slot. Who is that potential LOP?
When I was elected to Parliament in 2017, I knew that I was going to a Parliament that is rotten and it is the same thing that I have been telling my colleagues in my party and in the wider Opposition that they are going to a Parliament, but [they] should not look at it as an alpha and omega. They should consider it as one of the fronts.
The common people who are the true freedom fighters must be involved as well as the Parliament. In the times of slavery, as the congressmen and women went to articulate issues, the slaves in the plantations confronted the vice head-on. The question of who will become LoP is not for me to answer now because my party has an executive board that sits and makes such decisions.
The Political Parties and Other Organisations Act and the NUP constitution vest the powers of appointing an LoP in the President of the party with a majority in Parliament. Are you running away from your obligations?
No, I am not running away. As President of NUP, I am the chief executive. Being a servant leader and believing in consensus, there is the executive board that makes important decisions and that being a sensitive matter, the board will soon make a decision on it.
Bobi wine, What qualities of LoP would you like to see in the next Parliament?
The values have to be in the same line with what we espouse. The values include discipline, reliability, integrity, fidelity, and service. Those are the values of NUP. That person must have a national mind and looks at people as equal before and under the law.
Bobi wine, As a govt in waiting, what is your agenda in Parliament?
Our number one agenda in Parliament is to elevate the will and voice of the people of Uganda. It is clear that the leadership and administration of this country have neglected the voice of the people. The people of Uganda just spoke loudly and [un] equivocally, but that was not respected. Instead, everything that is being done is in total contrast to what the people want.
Bobi wine, There have been rumours that you have directed your MPs to back Speaker Rebecca Kadaga. Why aren’t you supporting a candidate of the ruling NRM party?
Just treat that as a rumour. We formed a committee which is doing research and it will bring to us a report about the same. According to us, the problem and, therefore, the solution is not about who becomes Speaker [of Parliament]. Many members are in that Parliament illegitimately because they were forced on to the people of Uganda. We are not looking at Speakers per say, what we are looking for is changing the whole government. We didn’t endorse anybody for the position.
Bobi Wine, During the campaigns, you supported Speaker Kadaga and promised her a position in your cabinet if you were elected. Now she is seeking to become a Speaker where you have a big say on who takes the position. Will you back her candidature?
I know that there are people in the NRM who would not act as wicked as they do if they were not taking express orders from President Museveni. Many have been able to stand on the side of the people like Hon Patrick Nsamba, Hon John Baptist Nambeshe, who is my deputy president, and others.
So, my thoughts of electing Ms Kadaga in my government is not nepotistic or based on the fact that she is my ‘senga’ (vernacular reverence for aunt or marriage counsellor, depending on tribe and context – editor). She is one of the people who could play a role from eastern Uganda. But whether or not, she [retains her] Speaker [position], that is entirely for the parliamentarians to decide.
Bobi wine, You have been a parliamentarian in the 10th Parliament that is concluding business this week. Did you, during this time, see the Speaker as one who suits the position?
I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly about Ms Kadaga. It would be unfair for me to give my comment right now because if I talk about the good, I will be elevating her unfairly above others and if I spoke the bad about her, I would be undoing her efforts. But everybody knows that she presided over the abrogation of our Constitution.
Bobi wine, Uganda is on the brink of breaking the debt ceiling. What should be done to solve the debt crisis in the country?
Remove Museveni. If we still have a leader who is a thief, who does not care about whether he mortgages the entire State to remain in power, we shall have problems and we shall move from bad to worse.
We have people that don’t care about the future of Uganda, we have seen leaders that don’t care about their country’s assets. Some of them have had parts of their sovereignty taken over by some countries they owe and we are on the brink of that.
The government does not care about empowering the productivity of the country, we are not productive anymore. We are only exporting housemaids and security guards. We are not producing our own food and natives are being reduced to liability to the State. So, the first recovery to our nation is the removal of a government that does not work towards economic recovery. Gen Museveni and his government are doing everything to sink deep into the mud that we are stuck in.
Bobi wine, After he is removed, what next and how would you recover the economy?
I don’t want to brag about being such an astute economist, but I know that many proposals have been presented for our recovery by very knowledgeable and well-researched individuals. Unfortunately for us to recover, we must stop the thieving, corruption, misuse, and wastage.
Bobi wine, What is your say on the new taxes?
They are oppressive and they will just continue to be restrictive. They are a burden to the economy, development, and the country. But it is clear Museveni wants to impoverish Ugandans even more.
Bobi wine, One could argue that the new taxes are to plug the financial hole and improve the debt situation …
That is a joke. All the taxes that have been introduced are doing nothing, but impoverishing Ugandans more. The taxes that have been collected have not been put to proper use. They have ended in a few hands of the people in government. So, you cannot tell me that you are going to strangle businesses with huge taxes in a bid to elevate the economy while giving tax holidays and exempting foreigners. It doesn’t make sense.
Bobi wine, You have been invited to the swearing-in ceremony. Do we hope attend the inauguration on Wednesday?
What swearing-in? That is illegal and I don’t take part in illegalities. I am the president-elect, so who is going to be swearing-in? That whole function is fraudulent. Only that Museveni has guns around him, but he should be arrested. I am the right president who was elected by the people. That would be a betrayal for the people that elected me President.
Thank you H.E. Bobiwine for Your Time.
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