Museveni Used Military Tactics To Bring Mao On The Nrm Table

By Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba, UK

I can understand the pain of the DP supporters when they learnt that their president, Norbert Mao, had signed a Memorandum of understanding with Museveni a few days ago. it's pretty galling as a voter to have no direct recourse when something happens politically that undermines your support. It comes down to the particulars of a scenario as to whether working with NRM represents the supporters’ intentions better than working alone as a party. Personally, I think Mao did this for his own selfish interests because his political career was literally dead.

Museveni, on the other hand, has been using military tactics to subdue an enemy he has been pursuing ever since he took over power in 1986. Just like he has done with other political parties, he tried to divide DP within, which led to several factions: Francis Bwengye Vs Ssemogerere (2000-2002), Michael Mabike’s Social Democratic Party(2010 -2013), and Ssebagala’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)(2010-2016).

Mao missed out on the DP presidency in 2005 when Ssebana Kizito took the mantle from Paul Ssemogerere. Ssebaana would later name him (Mao) his campaign manager for the 2006 election. DP organised a delegates Conference in Mbale after the 2006 elections,where Mao stood again and won against Al Hajji Nasser Sebagala. More internal divisions ensued but Museveni didn’t benefit so much from them as he wanted. Therefore, he had to find a way to attack DP and other political parties from outside.

So, guess what? In 2020, he gets out his hidden stick that had been on the shelves for a long time since 2004 and presented it to Bobi Wine via Kibalama as, like, a father telling his son, ‘go and give them hell. I will protect you’.

Sun Szu said that surrounding an enemy is a tactical mistake. If the enemy knows there is no escape, they fight with the courage of despair to either break out or die where they stand. Whereas if the attacker gives the defender an avenue of escape their morale will break and they will retreat, saving their lives but losing the battle.

Museveni knew that the likes of Beti Nambooze, Erias Lukwago, Segona and a few others, would never quit DP for anything. So, he had to create an attraction for them outside DP – he, indirectly, gave them an escape route in NUP. I’m sure by now, most of them(minus Lukwago who joined FDC), have known that the man they hate most is now actually controlling them from where they run to. It wouldn’t surprise me if they cross back to DP at some point in the future.

Well, when you split an army, you’ve physically destroyed its centre, they rout, and now you are flanking the back and sides of two flanks.

By August 2020, Mao knew what he was in for, and had to make a choice. He chose to work with Museveni, because all other choices meant the end of him as an influential politician. DP had only been left with only 9 MPs in parliament, and one of them, Paulson Lutamaguzi, wasn’t even loyal to the party anymore.

I understand that the Museveni-Mao negotiations started immediately after the 2021 elections. Mao understandably thought that Museveni will help save DP, somehow, by supporting his argument that NUP was involved in illegality while changing leadership from Kibalama to Bobi, and that they have a fake constitution at the Electoral Commission(EC), but it’s a debate Museveni has completely avoided up to now.

Museveni never offered Mao a better choice. If he had, we would not be having this conversation. He simply wanted him to join his government. Museveni could have used courts of law and EC to deregister NUP, or stop Kyagulanyi from standing for presidency, but he didn’t.

Ever seen a cornered animal that thinks you're about to kill it? Put ‘’Omunanansi’’ in one hand and a gun in its other, and there you have a cabinet position for Mao as minister of Justice and constitutional affairs.

Quite frankly, we've seen it play out in UPC, too. Museveni literally killed UPC over the years and Obote’s son, James Akena, had no choice but to give in to the most powerful man in the country. His wife is now serving as a minster in the government.

It’s considered cowardly in war to play dead, then shoot the enemy as they walk by. Depending on your enemy, they will either search you, poke you a bit with their bayonets, or even put a bullet in your head to make sure you really are what you pretend to be (i.e. dead). By the way, playing dead is also a war crime. It constitutes “perfidy” and is expressly banned under the Geneva Conventions

Mao’s DP career died as soon as Kyagulanyi and later Some DP MPs quit the DP block and joined NUP. He had to find a way to resurrect himself. Mao has got to that age where friends are dying almost every few months; so, he had to think carefully about his future.

Museveni doesn’t need to care about Mao. He just has to use him for something. Museveni doesn’t allow the weaknesses of others to drag him down.

As for the opposition at the moment, it needs an awakening. The only thing worse than living under a brutal dictatorship which kills and imprisons some of your people, is having an opposition group with dictatorial tendencies, or being used to kill other opposition parties.

No other party is a threat to the opposition in the way that NUP leadership currently is a threat to itself, to Ugandans that want change of leadership in Uganda, and to the people whose lives it controls.

And that's not casting aspersions from afar per se, I feel that the endless fights it has exhibited against other opposition leaders since 2018, has offered Museveni a room to offer these leaders an escape route.

Some leaders are just genuinely bad for a country’s politics, as can be ascertained by the effects NUP has on the domains and people over which they control.