President Museveni has hailed the late Democratic Party leader, Dr Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere, for his contribution to the stability of Uganda.
According to Museveni, even when DP leaders like Paulo Ssemogerere, Ponsiano Mulema, Ssebaana Kizito etc., joined the Unity Government, they never became disruptive or subversive.
“I salute them for their contribution to the stability of the country on account of that responsible behaviour. Recently, we reached an agreement with DP and with UPC earlier to work together in a broad-based Government. I salute the two Parties for that responsible behaviour,” he said in a Tuesday statement.
The president further noted that although Mzee Ssemogerere was 90 years old, he still had a lot he could have contributed.
This is his full statement:
Starting in 1960, I became a very active DP Youth winger. Apart from looking after our cattle in areas of Ruhuunga and Keigoshoora (Kashaari County), I spent part of the 1960 end-of-year holidays with Mzee Byanyima at Ruti.
In 1961, I was an active DP sympathizer at Ntare until 1965 when, with some UPC Youth such as Eriya Kategaya etc, we started forming the new line of what, eventually, became the NRM with its principles of Patriotism, Pan-Africanism, Social-economic transformation & Democracy.
In spite of the evolution of our thinking, by 1966, we still appreciated the straightforwardness of DP vis-à-vis, for instance, the positions of Mengo. DP, under Kiwanuka, was firmly for the unity of Uganda. Hence, we were critical of the conduct of UPC who would say one thing (even when it was risky) and end up doing something quite different – conduct that caused both the coalition of UPC-KY and the crisis of 1966.
Therefore, in spite of our evolving thinking, in 1966, working with Hon. John Kawanga who was our roommate and classmate at Ntare, I came to the DP Headquarters and invited the Rt. Hon. Paulo Ssemogerere to come to the school and talk to us.
Mzee Ssemogerere, Humphrey Luande (MP and Trade Unionist) and myself travelled together in one of the mini-bus combis that had been given to DP, reportedly, by the West German Government of Chancellor Adenauer, to Mbarara, where the two leaders addressed the students.
I linked up, again, with Paulo in 1980, during the post-Amin period, when he delegated Tiberio Okeny and others to negotiate with us the possible merger of DP with Fronasa. I even attended the inaugural meeting of DP at the Grand Imperial Hotel.
Unfortunately, we could not agree on some crucial points. During the bush war of 1981-86, we remained on good terms with DP. In 1986, after our victory, we invited the DP, CP and even UPC, to join a Government of National Unity. Paulo Muwanga nominated Stanislaus Okurut to join the Cabinet. Many DP leaders joined the Unity Government: Paulo Ssemogerere, Ponsiano Mulema, Ssebaana Kizito etc., etc. I salute their contribution.
Paulo became Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs etc. Even when the DP chose not to remain in the Unity Cabinet as the 1996 General Elections were approaching, a move that much saddened us, they never became disruptive or subversive.
I salute them for their contribution to the stability of the country on account of that responsible behaviour. Recently, we reached an agreement with DP and with UPC earlier to work together in a broad-based Government. I salute the two Parties for that responsible behaviour.
It is, therefore, a pity that our Compatriot, Mzee Ssemogerere left us at this time. Although 90 years old, he still had a lot he could have contributed.
The NRM is always ready to dialogue with other political forces on the whole spectrum of philosophy, ideology and strategy of politics in Africa, Uganda and the World. May his soul Rest in Eternal Peace.