Norbert Mao is a very weak DP leader

By Timothy Mwaka

28th May 2012: From the outset, one is likely to think that this is an attack on Norbert Mao, the Democratic Party (DP) leader.  However, this is far from it. As any concerned member of DP, I would like to express my worries over what I see as a weak leader in Norbert Mao. The party has no official complaints route for anyone like me in China to comment or express myself – hence my decision to use the mainstream media.

The Initial Euphoria

Many Ugandan democrats were excited by the election of Norbert Mao on 20th February 2010.  He represented the new generation of young leaders who were born after independence who were now taking on Museveni. To their advantage, young leaders like Mao don’t have the political baggage and scandals of the post colonial era which people like Museveni have – and this was very appealing to many voters/supporters.

In essence, Mao’s presidency was supposed to make Museveni look like a very old man – one who needs to retire because he is being challenged by his grandchildren.  Many Ugandans were therefore excited, and could not wait for the new DP to emerge.  The new DP I refer to is one which would be cohesive, consultative, one that communicates and articulates its aims and objectives, and is in touch with the locals on the ground.

The Dashed Hopes

But to my surprise, Norbert Mao has already been a disappointment to the party, including all the neutral potential supporters who would have joined DP.  It is two years since Mao was elected, and there’s nothing that one can show – that this is what Mao, as a leader, has archived so far.

For one to understand my concerns, one has to look at the measures used to determine whether a political party is growing or declining. I will not delve into figures or statistics as my ability to access credible data is limited. Therefore, I will base my arguments on my understanding of politics, as well as what we see in the media or hear from those around Mao and his rivals.

Failure to Build Support

Firstly, progressive political parties build and hold on to their grassroots support. One would expect that DP under Mao would be re-building strong bases at the grassroots level.  But this is not happening. I have not seen or heard Mao and his executive in villages consulting and building the party, or empowering supporters, except during the elections. Yet DP would probably find it a lot easier to mobilise people since its values are very close to people’s hearts, and it has no history of engaging in killings.

DP has always fought for people’s rights.  Its motto ‘Truth and Justice’ speaks for itself. In addition, the majority of its members and supporters are young people who are energetic.  So what reasons can Mao put forward for failing to mobilise and organise the grassroots supporters against this tired regime?

If Mao was already combing the villages, surely the media in Uganda would have reported this and many of us who are now concerned would be either quiet or applauding him.

Failure to Bring Unity

Secondly, progressive political parties unite under agreed values, and yet Mao has failed to unite DP. For the two years he has been in office, he has failed to reconcile the DP young leaders who connect very well with the voters. These are Ms Betty Nambooze, Mathius Mpuuga, Medard Ssegona and Erias Lukwago, among others.

Why has Mao failed to bring these people on board yet they seem to have a lot in common – such as attending the same university, not to mention being in the same age group with him.  The above mentioned politicians do not have to be in Mao’s executive to rally behind him.  But he has failed to co-opt them, and yet they are very popular.

Has this got to do with his personality? Is he very egoistic and unable to come down to earth? Or does he think those politicians have to go looking for him?  Well, great leaders recruit and seek support from everywhere, and from everyone who can be useful in advancing their vision for the party. I am sure the above mentioned leaders can help Mao and the DP entrench its support.

But Mao has failed to engage and make them useful to the party. A good leader would identify and articulate the values that unite the different factions, and he would concentrate on these as a way forward. Because of that, it is more likely than not that the different factions would work together, even if they do not like the leadership or the personalities.

Failure to Communicate

Thirdly, progressive political parties and their leaders effectively communicate the vision of their parties, but Mao has miserably failed to do this. To this day, many are not sure of what Mao stands for, or what his party is trying to achieve?  What are his party’s short term and long term aims and objectives? How are we going to measure his success or failure?

The DP that Mao leads has not even got an official website.  Ironically, Mao has a personal website where he regularly communicates to his followers, but not to the entire DP membership. Mao needs to understand that there is a clear difference between Mao the man and Mao the DP president. One might support the DP and not support Mao.

By only communicating through his personal website, is Mao telling us that he is DP, and DP is him?  A good leader is a good communicator, and this goes beyond being able to speak four different languages.

Even John Ssebaana Kizito seems to have been better than Mao in communicating. Ssebaana used to hold press conferences every Monday from DP offices where he would comment on issues and articulated DP’s position. At least I know journalists who used to go there and cover these conferences.

Failure to Raise Funds

Fourthly, progressive parties need funds to grow and recruit more members. But Mao has failed to fund raise and equip the party with the minimal financial muscle to run a party like the DP. To this day, DP still has its offices at City House, one of the oldest and dirtiest buildings in Kampala. The building is also popular with prostitutes at night!

Surely the DP party leadership can afford to build four rooms somewhere in outer Kampala to house our offices in a clean and respected area. I am not expecting Mao to use his personal wealth, and that’s why I am talking about fundraising not bankrolling the party.

If Mao was indeed interested and capable of building the DP, he should have embarked on improving the party finances long time ago. The only time his team tried to do this was during the election, and yet this needs to be an ongoing campaign.

No Big Vision

Fifth, progressive parties and successful party leaders look at the bigger picture, and avoid the trivial things. Mao should stop playing the tribal card and concentrate on working to build the party. The few times I have heard him on radio stations when his leadership is under attack, he has always claimed that those criticising him are tribalists.

This is wrong.  He should be open to constructive criticism so that he can improve as a leader.  If most Baganda did not want him to be DP president, they wouldn’t have voted for him.  He therefore has the mandate to lead – unless he is not confident enough.

END.  Please login to every Monday to read our top stories and anytime mid-week for our news updates.

Visited 230 times, 1 visits today


I will throw a hot stone behind CJ Odoki’s back
By John Baptist Oloka 25th March 2013:

The media broke news of More... (0)


The late Mzee Kaguta was a naughty boy
By Lawrence Kasozi

25th February 2013: This is totally out of More... (0)


Museveni is pathological hypocrite
By Norman Miwambo

25th February 2013: I don’t believe Museveni was More... (0)


Obote is crying for his beloved country
By M. Suleman

18th February 2013: Uganda’s late president Dr Apollo More... (0)


Wake up fools: Army took over long ago
By Bernard Ddumba

4th Feb 2013: Over the last two weeks, I seriously More... (0)


NRM revolution is eating its own children
By Charles Businge

4th February 2013: In 1986, the new leadership promised More... (0)


It’s lawful to resist coup plotters – let’s do it
By Elijah M. Tumwebaze

28th January 2013: In a powerful opinion article that More... (0)


Our parliament only exists on paper
By M. Suleman

28th January 2013: Uganda is a country endowed with More... (0)


Museveni is right to call NRM MPs idiots
By M. Suleman

21st Jan 2013: In the drama that followed More... (0)


Isn’t Museveni a deranged psychopath?
By M. Suleman

17th Dec 2012: An emotional, grief-stricken, and More... (0)


World News




Follow us