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COMMENT: The Democratic Party shall never die

Ben Kiwanuka 

The current politics, where Museveni appoints somebody from the opposition, answers the old question; what is politics?

 By: Kavuma Kaggwa

There has been  a lot  of   loose  and senseless talk  in the  Country, especially  in Kampala , that  because of  what  happened  in the  Democratic  Party  (DP) recently  , therefore it is  going  to  collapse.

This  kind  of  talk  came  about  as a  result of  President Yoweri Museveni  recently  appointing   Mohamed  Baswale  Kezaala to be an Ambassador  in the Office  of the  President.

Mohamed Baswale  Kesaala was, until recently, the  National  Chairman of  the  DP. He has now resigned from the post of Chairman.

President Museveni  also  appointed  Nakiwala  Kiyingi the  Minister  for  Youth  and   Children  Affairs,  and Beti Kamya, Leader of Uganda Federal  Alliance, was  also  appointed  Minister  for  Kampala.  All this came after DP lost Matiya Nsubuga Birekerawo who  was  the  Secretary  General  of the  Party,  He  died  suddenly  during in December 2016.

I  have  been  a member of  Democratic Party  from  January  9,1960 until  today.  I have been very instrumental in very many activities and   achievements of the Party, both in Uganda  and Kenya, especially when  we were fighting  to  wipe  out  tyrannical  rule  and consolidate real democracy and  the  multi-party   system  as  well as  to  restore  the  Buganda  Kingdom.

I joined DP after the Uganda National Congress had split and collapsed at the end of 1959.  As  a journalist  I  moved  very closely with then DP leader, Ben Kiwanuka, between 1959 and  1961 to mobilise  Ugandans  to  registered as voters in preparations  for the  first  General  Elections in  March 1961 .

 Ben Kiwanuka’s leadership

In 1958, a young, visionary, and charismatic British-trained lawyer who had acquired external exposure, Benedict Kagimu  Mugumba Kiwanuka, took over the  leadership of the party.  He was unanimously elected at a Delegate’s Conference which was held in Tororo in Eastern Uganda.

Ben Kiwanuka transformed the Democratic Party into a party of all tribes and all regions.  That is why the DP leader now is an Acholi, protestant Norbert Mao.

The Democratic  Party , since  its inception  is  a party  with  top leadership  which cuts across all the four region of  Uganda.  For example, if the President General is from the North, then the chairman comes from the East and the Secretary General comes from Buganda and the Treasurer comes from the west.

Ben Kiwanuka straight away launched plans for the Democratic Party to take power at the time of Independence.  In March 1961, the  Democratic  Party won the General Elections and Ben Kiwanuka  became the  First Prime  Minister  of  Uganda and led  Uganda into Internal Self Government which was  followed by full Independence on October 9,1962.

Ben Kiwanuka  should have  continued as Prime  Minster at full Independence in October 1962, but because of religious rivalry which was orchestrated by a group of  “Mengo Baganda” backed up  by  Canterbury  and the  British  Government, Ben Kiwanuka,  a Catholic and DP, was blocked. That opened the way for Milton Obote, a Protestant and UPC, to take power at the time of full Independence.

DP is a party which has survived many political challenges as well as religious intrigue.   It was banned by  Prime  Minister   Obote in  1966 but  it was revived in April  1980 at  Rubaga  Social Centre when the  then-President Godfrey Binaisa ordered  the resumption  of  political parties all over the country.

At this meeting which was convened by Paul Semwogerere, Michael Kaggwa and Evaristo Nyanzi to revive the Democratic Party, Paul Kavuma; a former Katikiro of Buganda ordered all the Baganda to join DP.  That order made the Party so popular everywhere in Uganda and it won the December 1980 general elections.  Unfortunately, Paul Muwanga  who  was Head of  State at that time, awarded victory  to  UPC/Obote and that led the  people of  Uganda to  launch a Liberation War under NRA from  February 1981 to  1986.  The Democratic Party secretly recruited more than 10,000 fighters in the war. Again DP won the 1996 general elections but there was rigging and victory went to President Museveni.

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