Former DP Spokesman Mwaka Emmanuel Lutukumoi: Why I Defected to NRM
It is absurd that some people can say that I was lured to the ruling party because of money. Such a comment is demeaning and shallow.
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First published: July 28, 2011
Among the reasons the Uganda opposition gave for their ‘miserable’ performance in the 2011 Presidential elections was the several defections to the National Resistance Movement which the opposition alleged were orchestrated by ruling party mercenaries who were dishing out money and promises of jobs to some opposition leaders and contestants.
The elections ended but the defections have continued, the latest, being flamboyant Democratic Party Spokesperson, Mwaka Emanuel Lutukumoi who officially crossed over to NRM this week. So is the NRM, after winning the elections, still buying off or enticing opposition party leaders to join the ruling party, or are there really good reasons for a politician to cross over to NRM?
What would force a young articulate man like Mwaka who had invested a lot of his political career in Uganda Young Democrats, finally joining the top brass of DP as the party’s spokesperson, now decide to join a party he previously decampaigned ?
Tiberindwa Zakaria caught up with the young politician and had a chat with him concerning his defection to the ruling party and his political career. Here are the excerpts of the conversation.
(Before the interview kicks off Mwaka excuses himself for a while to receive calls, gets back to settle in his seat a few minutes later to face the interview.)
Former DP Spokesman Mwaka Emmanuel Lutukumoi
Tiberindwa: I am sure you are receiving endless calls after you made that decision to join the NRM.
Mwaka: (Nods head in approval) Yes... I receive over 10 calls every two or so hours from people asking me about my defection to the NRM.
Tiberindwa: So tell us how your life has been since the time you declared that you had joined the NRM.
Mwaka: (Lets down a heavy sigh) Quite a long story but I was glad that I was welcomed in the party. I am rebranding and I have found a new home. It was a very hard and painful decision for me to take but it had a lot to do with my image, philosophies and principles that I built from childhood.
Tiberindwa: Aren’t you afraid of what the people you left in DP will think about you?
Mwaka: I knew people will not understand me... People will be disappointed but I am also aware that I will make them proud when the dust settles.
Tiberindwa: What exactly forced your move from the DP to the ruling NRM party?
Mwaka: I followed Norbert Mao from the time I was a child and was part of the Democratic Party right from the days when I was still a child. We thought the government had no political will in ending the Northern Insurgency and we thought as Northern Uganda we were politically subjugated.
Nonetheless over the years, the government has shown resilience in curbing the northern war through peace talks and other means that the government thought to be prudent in a bid to end that war.
The government has also proved that it still cares for the Northern people through the various programs that it has in the North. Some of these admirable programs include NUSAF and PRDP.
Therefore by doing this, the government exonerated itself from the widely-held view that it was not mindful of the plight of the people of Northern Uganda. And that is why in the recent presidential polls over 50% of people in Northern Uganda voted for the ruling government. In fact if we are to talk about defecting then the people from Northern Uganda defected to the NRM before I did and I am sure that the reason that forced them to give the NRM a bigger vote in the 2011 elections as opposed to the elections prior to that are not very different from reasons that I can give as to why I defected.
Besides... the opposition has failed to set the required standards of what an ultimate opposition in a country like Uganda should be. The opposition in Uganda has failed to provide viable alternative policy measures to those of the NRM which aspect they should be doing.
The opposition does not also have the strong grass root structures. Opposition parties spend most of the time bickering and in protests and only remember about the structures of their parties when it is one year to elections or even a few months to the election period. I am no longer proud to be part of such a kind of opposition.
Tiberindwa: There are claims that your defection to the ruling party could have been influenced by the financial and political benefits that come with defecting to the ruling party?
Mwaka: Everybody is entitled to their opinion. I am financially stable and a largely successful man given that I am a founder of a very successful NGO that deals in youth issues in Northern Uganda. I am not broke. I am paid for my consultancies. I am a scholar and intelligentsia.
DP has resources and it had the capacity to give me satisfactory financial support. Therefore it is absurd that some people can say that I was lured to the ruling party because of money. Such a comment is demeaning and shallow.
Tiberindwa: So you are not like some of the people that are said to have joined the NRM to become RDCs?
Former DP Spokesman Mwaka Emmanuel Lutukumoi
Mwaka: It would show the greatest level of political bankruptcy if I had joined the NRM to become RDC. Nonetheless I will accept any assignment that I am given to serve in the party. I came to the NRM not because of what I want to get from NRM but because of what I want to give to the NRM.
Tiberindwa: could your departure be attributed to a few dissatisfactions that you had with DP as a party?
Mwaka: I had personal problems with the politics of DP as party. Politics in DP was characterized by intrigue and conflicts that have hurt me personally and DP as a party. During the race for the Gulu Municipality seat, I lost to an FDC candidate because I did not have support from other DP members like Komakech Lyanda whom I had beaten in the primaries. I beat him despite that he had stood as the “official candidate of the senior members of the party”. Such petty conflicts have always bedeviled every little progress that the party tries to make. Unfortunately I brought this issue forward during the National Executive Committee delegate’s conference for the party in Mbale but it was ignored by the party. And such an attitude shows that there were no efforts on the side of the party to solve some of these conflicts.
The party failed to do enough in reconciling the various conflicting parties in the party which has forced people like me to leave the party. We designed strategies to bring all warring factions in the party together but this always remained on paper.
We organized a get together for this purpose but even then people like Betty Nambooze and Erias Lukwago who were targeted in this regard failed to turn up for that event.
Tiberindwa: So we should say you had lost faith in the party’s ability to resolve issues within the party?
Mwaka: I lost faith in the ability of DP to solve some of these issues or even to put blatantly its ability to capture power.
Tiberindwa: The DP of today and DP of five years back. What is your take? is the party growing stronger or weakening?
Mwaka: Unfortunately I am no longer spokesperson of the Democratic Party and so I am no longer concerned whether it is getting stronger or weaker but what I can say is this. The DP is blessed with a very vibrant president in Nobert Mao but his biggest challenge is whether he will ever be able to unite the party at the end of the day and make it stronger.
Tiberindwa: But then your defection looks like it is a point of no confidence in the President of the Democratic Party?
Mwaka: No. I still respect Nobert Mao. I think he is a very intelligent man though he also has weaknesses as a person.
Tiberindwa: What do you hope to add to the NRM party?
Mwaka: In NRM I am coming with those ideals needed by Ugandans, I will never be a puppet despite that I have defected to the NRM. I will always uphold the values that I cherish in life.
Tiberindwa: Where do you see yourself heading to politically after joining the NRM?
Mwaka: Many critics have written me off because I have joined the NRM party but they will be shocked when I make it big in the NRM party. I am sure that come 2016 I will be able to join the August house as a Member of Parliament on the NRM ticket.
Tiberindwa: What is your take on the idea of defecting from one party to another? Do you think it favors huge political ambitions? Are there people that have defected and turned out to be huge political successes?
Mwaka: To be a pope you have to be a bishop and to be a bishop you have to be a priest. To be a priest you have to be catechist but at the heart of that all is the fact that you have to be a catholic first and foremost. Museveni was in the Obote government before he became president. In Kenya Mwai Kibaki was part of Moi’s government before he became president.
Tiberindwa: Who are the people that you look up to in politics?
Mwaka: Nobert Mao is my mentor and role model though after some time he forgot that he was my role model. Betty Bigombe who braved the bushes to have peace talks with the Lord’s Resistance Army and outside Uganda it is Nelson Mandela. I have always cherished to be the kind of leader that Nelson Mandela is.
Tiberindwa: What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses in life?
Mwaka: (lightens up) That is a very good question. I am not scared of making bold decisions and I make sober decisions in most of the cases.
But then speaking about my weaknesses, sometimes I am so passionate about what I do that it does not go down well with those with whom I do not share beliefs. When I decide to do something I always do it with all my heart no matter what others think about it.
Tiberindwa: Tell us about the first time you got involved in leadership?
Mwaka: Heading a family as a child since I lost my parents at a tender age was the first time I got involved in leadership. I also at one time led a group of street kids when I was still a street kid. But as a leader in school my first shot at it was in Senior Five at Bombo Senior Secondary School where I ran as the Head Prefect and failed. Later the one that was elected as the Head Prefect was indefinitely suspended from school which then gave me another chance to run as the head prefect of the school. That time I managed to sail through as the head prefect of the school.
Tiberindwa: What are your beliefs in life?
Mwaka: I have an independent mind. I believe in collective responsibility.
Tiberindwa: In a few words, please tell us, who is Mwaka Emmanuel Lutkomoi?
Mwaka: I am a believer in social justice, collective responsibility, resilience and principle.
Tiberindwa: ...and anything you would like us to know about your family?
Mwaka: Well... I am married to one wife and I have two daughters.
Tiberindwa: Thank you very much for the time.
Mwaka: Thank you too.
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First published: July 28, 2011
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