Uganda Elections 2006: DPs Ssebaana Kizito Holding Tough Flag
DP's Ssebaana (left) at a rally.

Uganda Elections 2006: DPs Ssebaana Kizito Holding Tough Flag

Ssebaana who is the present Mayor of Kampala City is the 3rd Democratic Party President to contest for the national leadership.

By Gerald Rulekere
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First published: January 12, 2006

Being elected the flag bearer for the Democratic Party in the 2006 Presidential elections may have been a big victory for John Ssebaana Kizito, but the challenge that came with it is no doubt very daunting. The Democratic Party is Ugandas oldest Political party, started way back in the 1950s.

DP was known to be a mass political party in Uganda, being a party that had supporters allover Uganda in all age brackets. To many people, including President Yoweri Museveni, DP overwhelmingly won the 1980 elections but the then ruling Uganda People Congress cheated DP of a clear chance to lead the country.

It is the result of this election that prompted Museveni to start a guerilla war in 1981 that eventually overthrew the government of President Milton Obote (RIP) in 1986.

Now Ssebaana is expected by many DP enthusiasts to take the party to statehouse, there by bringing to life the stillbirth victory the party believes belongs to them because of their diverse number of supporters over the years.

The Democratic Party presidential candidate, John Ssebaana Kizito knows this very well and being 71 years, he also knows he has no other chance to lead the party to state power should he flank this election. The age limit for becoming president of Uganda is 75years.

Ssebaana who is the present Mayor of Kampala City is the 3rd Democratic Party President to contest for the national leadership, following Dr. Paul Ssemwogerere who has been party President since 1980 elections until two months ago. Ssemwogerere having filled the void left by the partys founding President, Bendicto Kiwanuka who was murdered in 1972.

If this election was being contested on public service experience, national and international exposure, maturity, academic excellence, managing finances or even having money, one would easily say Ssebaana will win the February 28 Presidential election.

Ssebana went to Ndejje Junior School for Primary Education, Kings College Buddo for Secondary from where he joined Makerere University to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics.

Ssebaana then proceeded to the University of Oregon where he attained a Masters degree in Business Economics in 1963. He later joined the Switzerland Institute of Insurance where he trained in Insurance, his most practiced profession.

You may understand why Ssebaana became a career man, businessman, politician and family man at an early age. Ssebaana is married to Christine Kizito with whom they have six Children, four daughters and two sons.

Ssebaana joined active politics at the age of 29 and by the time he was 30, he was an East African Assembly MP (then parliament of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania under the east Africa Federation).

He served as an Executive Officer of the Uganda Development Corporation and General manger of Crusader Insurance Company (1964), before becoming a Managing Director of the National Insurance Corporation (1965-1980) and a Director in the Central Bank of Uganda (1966-1970). In 1980, Ssebaana established his own Statewide Group of Companies including Statewide Insurance Company.

When Musevenis National Resistance Army took power in 1986, Ssebaana was one of its first ministers in its broad base government, having joined the coalition that was based on the so-called gentlemans agreement. He served as the Minister of Housing in the first Museveni administration.

In 1989, Ssebaana was Member of Parliament in the National Resistance Council (NRC), the legislature at the time. He later became the Constituency Assembly Delegate in 1994-95 representing Makindye East Constituency.

Ssebaana has also been the national Treasurer of the Democratic Party for the last more than 20 years until November 2005 when he was elected Democratic Party President General.

No doubt he has an illustrious career and experience, is heading a popular party which no Ugandan has bad memories of, yet Ssebaana is not even among the three leading candidates according to recent opinion polls.

The Daily Monitor Poll put incumbent Yoweri Museveni of the National Resistance Movement in the lead (47.1%), Dr. Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change (31.9%), Miria Obote of the Uganda Peoples Congress (4.8%) and Ssebaana (4.6%). Even an earlier poll by the government owned The New Vision put Ssebana in 4th place after Dr. Besigye, Museveni and Miria.

Those may be opinion polls, and the final results may indicate otherwise especially after Ssebaanas re-electrifying campaign that reminded many Ugandans of their dear Party and made many of them to proudly raise the clenched fist-the partys symbol once again.

Ssebaana will be hoping this is the case so that he avoids another Democratic Party stillbirth when opulent hope turned into tears or misery for that matter in 1980.

But the elderly statesman will be hoping against hope, given the fact that he is in a campaign that is clearly a run between two former comrades, president Museveni and Dr. Besigye. It may unlikely count that someone belongs to this or that party.

For the last 20 years, it has been a known secret that many people hold Democratic Party Cards and love the party, but vote for President Museveni or Dr. Besigye (in 2001).

The likelihood that this will happen again is almost a certainty. The Democratic Party may have members but they have been dodged by the failure to have a Presidential candidate of National appeal.

Many of the members of the party often keep accusing its leadership of always being too soft and giving in to defeat even when they have won, preferring to vote other presidential candidates in which they can seek the lion to fight for the Democratic Party virtues of Truth and Justice.

But Ssebaana is a committed man who seems to be determined to bring state power to the party. After all, many Ugandans in other parties first belonged to the Democratic Party, or their parents did, and if a mechanical change in voice from a hoarse to a clearer one is one intention to woo all party members, then Ssebaana is serious on this mission.

Despite the Presidential Polls and public rally support enjoyed by FDCs Dr. Besigye, Ssebaana who supports an opposition coalition is still insisting the Democratic Party (meaning himself) leads the coalition to oust the long serving Museveni.

Certainly Ssebaana is taking his chances when he has them and that might be the best he can do to keep hope alive for all Democratic party supporters. That is if on 23 February, all of them remember to vote on party basis and not on individual basis between the leading two candidates, Museveni and Besigye as is expected. But only time can tell.

Highlights of the Democratic Party Manifesto

  • Restructure government ministries to meet the core functions of the Central Government
  • Develop a comprehensive code of conduct for civil servants and ensure neutrality in their service.
  • Make the media free and liberated from intimidating legislation such as the crime of sedition
  • Undertake study for Universal Pension scheme and life insurance to cover individuals in the informal sector/ those in self employment
  • Provide better health care for the rural and urban poor through access to health care for all
  • Adopt sound and stable macro economic policy, which includes cutting budget deficits, reducing interests rates across the board and maintain an appropriate exchange rate valuation level.
  • Assist farmers with better methods and markets for the poor
  • Strategically exploit Uganda’s resources through industries to counter poverty and guarantee prosperity.
  • Develop a good transport network that promotes prosperity by building dual carriage four lane highways, and to expand the capacity of Entebbe International Airport by commissioning construction of another highway.
  • Create a just land tenure to realize the potential of the country through land reforms that enhance property rights.
  • Review the whole education system with a view of rationalizing it and pay a living wage to all teachers.
  • Fight poverty as the only justified war to better defend and secure the country. Also, rationalize the system of military justice so that only military personnel are subjected to the jurisdiction of military courts.
  • The party shall restore Presidential Term limits
  • The party will repeal articles of the constitution and laws that provide for a movement system
  • Retain Attorney General as a non-cabinet principal legal advisor of government

  • By Gerald Rulekere
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    First published: January 12, 2006
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    Gerald Rulekere is a Journalist and member of Ultimate Media Consult. He has written and published extensively on business and gender issues and been writing for Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd for the last two years. A professional and graduate journalist, Rulekere is always looking for an opportunity to better his writing especially for international media.