On Monday Derrick Wandera interviewed the National Unity Platform presidential flag bearer Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, about his 2021 presidential bid and his plan if he is elected president. Below are excerpts.
Since you declared your intentions to stand, a lot has changed. How would you describe these changes?
The last time we met, I said I had resolved that I will run for presidency. At that time, there was not so much clarity on the details of how we shall make it. For instance, we were operating under the robust People Power and it had been my hope that we would have a collaboration with other political players such as the Democratic Party (DP), Justice Forum (Jeema), Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) and generally other change seeking forces.
That explains why we had not formed a political party.
That propelled us to take a decision to become part of the little known political party, changed the name, acquired leadership and got a political vehicle called the National Unity Platform.
You say you started thinking about having a political party two years ago?
I always look ahead and I can envision where we are going to be five years from now. How to get there, that is a different thing and it takes sharing the vision with your comrades, making them see the things the way you do. No one would guarantee that we would be here because of what we thought.
We are partly here because of what happened. Nelson Mandela once said freedom fighters often find out the hard way but it is the oppressor that determines the course of action. Many times we do things in response.
Many of the things we do are a direct response to our detractors both in the NRM regime and in the Opposition.
For example, if it was not for the dismissal of our colleagues in the struggle, maybe we would not be a political party, but because we were dismissed by all political parties, we had to organise into a political formation. Maybe if DP or FDC had embraced us, we would be carrying their flag but here we are carrying the umbrella.
You have always said you want to change this country from dictatorial rule and give power back to the people. You have less than six months to convince Ugandans with this narrative?
We are at it, more serious than we have ever been. Ugandans are already aware. During my presidency, some changes will be immediate while others will be gradual. Some things such as oppressive laws will be changed with executive pronouncements and others through legislation. For example, you will not expect us to have that whole huge crowd of ministers, RDCs, GISOs and DISOs, etc. We shall not have that.
But the DISOs, GISOs and those other operatives provide intelligence to the country. How will you operate without them?
The police have an investigative department. There used to be a department in police called the Special Branch and Criminal Investigation Deparrtment (CID). These departments were so lethal with their work in terms of intelligence. We did not have to have all these GISOs, DISOs and so on… . When police and the whole security institution is empowered, they are subordinate to the people and respect the rule of law. There will be tranquility and security will be [start] from the lowest person.
I have always talked about my “Five Point Programme.” We have the rule of law and democracy, respect of human rights, revolutionising the healthcare system, education system, amending our land tenure system and agriculture as well as creating lasting peace, unity and reconciliation. Those are the major things we want to look at first but details of how we shall be doing this will come in our manifesto. Quite so much will change, I must say.
When you talk about empowering the education system, where will your focus be?
I want an education system that creates a positive mind-set about ourselves, skills and results-oriented. Many times our education system has demanded that the ability to speak good English is the mark for one’s intelligence, I don’t agree with that.
I have talked about the three “As”. Among us, there are academic giants, we should help them study and achieve their dreams. We shall support them and create an enabling environment for it, that is our first A. Second A, we have athletic giants in our education system. Just the other day, Joshua Cheptegei gave us the fame all over the world that no single doctor or engineer has given us in the past years. What about creating millions of Cheptegeis in schools? We shall be giving focus and attention to football, boxing, athletics, badminton, among others.
There are people who are able to earn from this and contribute to this country immensely and also create jobs for themselves. The other A is the arts. We give equal focus, so that we identify the talented artistes, purify them and help them with management skills. You would have more Bobi Wines taught in schools to reason as stars and acknowledge the fact that they are important.
Looking at what one Bobi Wine has done to the government and the disruption you cause in most of the places you visit, how safe will your government be with a million Bobi Wines like you say?
It is not my government that has to be safe, it is the future of Uganda that must be safe. If my government must fall for Uganda to be safe then so be it. I want to ensure that Mr Museveni is the last gold-like president. There will not be any other that is super powerful.
I am going to dismantle that presidency, put the word president below the feet of Ugandans. Never again will the people be answerable to the president, the president will be answerable to the people.
How different will your government handle the crisis within the health system?
You cannot reinvent the wheel. This has been discussed and assented to in the Abuja Declaration in Nigeria. The governments that implemented it have good healthcare system. Those that did not implement it like Ugandans, so many things have gone to a mess. We paid a lot of money and sent there delegates and we are signatories to the Abuja declaration that : “Every country with an affected healthcare system should at least invest 15 per cent of their budget into healthcare.”
Our people are suffering because all the doctors are seeking to leave the country. Most of these countries with booming healthcare systems have Ugandans working there as senior doctors. We must entice these doctors to come back home. They would love to work at home but they are not paid the way they should. Even during this Covid-19 [period], we were not able to improve our healthcare system with all the donations we received from well-wishers. That should be a sign that there is no intention whatsoever to help the situation.
We shall invest in it because we have that money. I want people to begin respecting doctors the way we respect generals because these are the people that save lives, not take lives.
We have a small economy with more than 70 per cent of the population in subsistence life, our GDP growing is at 3.6 per cent and a big part of the population live on less than a dollar a day. Where will you get the money to pay all these professionals well?
We also know that people have houses stashed with cash, we also know that the President moves with cash handing out to people… So we know that money is there and we shall have to work on priorities, which are the biggest problems. We have a whole lot of wastage as per the Auditor General’s report. Why do we have so many MPs, ministers and people on government payroll just to widen administration and increase patronage? We will prioritise. We will have fewer ministers, MPs, and remove RDCs. That money will go to education, health and security.
What would be a sizable number of ministers and MPs in your government?
I don’t think we need more than 30 ministers and I don’t think Parliament needs more than 150 MPs. I sit in Parliament and I can tell you that there are many MPs who have never said a word because we have only three minutes to submit what you have gathered from your constituency. You don’t have to split districts to get things done, you are just creating salary outlets.
The more MPs you have the bigger the load on the taxpayer. Each MP takes more than a billion shillings a year.
If Kyadondo East had not been carved out of Kyadondo constituency to get Kiira Municipality, you probably wouldn’t be in Parliament today. These are the very positions now that you criticise, are you contradicting yourself here?
The same way, if there was no injustice, vote rigging, I probably wouldn’t have cut off my dreadlocks and gone out of the entertainment industry to join politics. Are you then trying to say it was justifiable to oppress our people, rig votes and overstay in power? Certainly not, we are just trying to beat the dictator at his own game. Recently when they created two constituencies out of one, we still went ahead to have two candidates in the two of them. Not because we like it but it is because we want to beat the dictator at his own game.
You and Ms Evelyn Anite [State minister of State for Privatisation and Investment] have been summoned to CID to explain why you have been gathering people in mass rallies in the face of Covid-19?
That is nonsense and I will not show up. I repeat, I will not show up. There is absolutely no way they are trying to justify their impunity. Before they summon me, they should summon the Minister of Health, Vice President, minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs. They should keep that nonsense to themselves. They know as well as I do that I didn’t have any congregation and I didn’t invite anyone. They are trying to use me to sanitise Anite’s deeds. I will not be mixed with that nonsense. If they want to arrest me, they can come, I live in Magere.
Some people like former Research fellow at Makerere University have criticised the formation of NUP, saying they do not recognise what the party stands for and you are dragging them into something that is not yet articulated properly?
I didn’t intend to okubavuga speed (driving fast) and that is deliberate. The leadership of People Power takes decisions. The problem is that some people wanted to use us. They did not believe in our ideology but many of them thought they would use that huge support we have to develop their political careers. Many of them have disowned us and many will disown us when they fail to use this wave to their benefit. We are prepared for that.
The acquisition of your party has been challenged, some people claim it has been done fraudulently?
If I had done anything fraudulently, I would be in jail right now. The Electoral Commission came out to contest our use of the red colour, trying to hide under UPC until UPC came out to disown that claim.
The very people that paraded themselves in the media saying they were defecting from People Power way before NUP was formed are the very faces that came out to claim ownership of NUP.
Shamelessly, they are using our new logo on the cards they printed to claim the party which has an old logo. They are not smart enough to notice that contradiction and this is a party that was started 16 years ago but you are seeing people in their 30s and 20s. This means they founded the party while they were 15 or 16 years. That is not possible, they need to be smarter than that.
Has the new logo which has red, white and navy blue been gazetted by EC?
Our new logo has not been gazetted even when we wrote to EC. The people of Uganda and the international community are looking at the EC and judging their independence to see whether they can deliver a free and fair election.
Political Party and Other Organisations Act stipulates that a party shall present three colours which are not used by any other organisation. Your party has been attacked for using red which is the dominant colour for UPC?
The law requires us to submit three colours which we did and there is nothing like a dominant colour. It is not written anywhere in the law. All these are inventions of Mr [Simon] Byabakama [EC chairman] but we are using and we shall continue using the colour.
You have always been talking about coming up with a single candidate for the Opposition but looking at what has happened before, when you combine all votes of the Opposition candidates, you get about 40 per cent. This means that President Museveni will still be ahead of all of you with 60 per cent or so. Will it help the Opposition?
You are talking about the past. I am talking about what is coming. There was no Kyagulanyi in those elections, now he is here. People were not as sensitised then as they are now and you didn’t have as much involvement in the elections as they are now. When we set out in 2018 to tell the youth to get National IDs, it wasn’t a joke. Everything is different. We know we can beat Mr Museveni and we shall because this is a youth revolution. But we need to go into this election as one united force of change.
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Your supporters are making sectarian statements against people of a particular tribe or region. Isn’t that going to affect your national political outlook?
It is very sad that people who practise tribalism are calling out to intimidate people who are trying to talk about it, shame on them. Many people have raised voices against tribalism. People who are trying to tag me as being tribalistic should be ashamed of themselves. Look at me and my wife, we are from completely different tribes but we love ourselves and we are the true representation of the future generation.
MPs that joined you are from around Buganda and Baganda, how do you defend yourself?
Hon John Patrick Nambeshe is not a Muganda, Patrick Nsamba Oshabe is not a Muganda, and Patrick Kalwanga is not. Mr Ssewungu is not, Dr Lina Zedriga is from the north. You are looking at MPs, I am looking at all eminent leaders. Not that the Baganda should not work with me, no.
Your supporters have been accused of being violent and intolerant?
My supporters use sharp words, they don’t use sharp knives and guns like Museveni and his people. What is wrong with talking? There has been every effort to project us as violent so that they can respond to us with violence. Mr Museveni himself prides in violence, read his university thesis, he was praising violence and he keeps talking of crushing, as if they put me there, he can’t.
The people around you are being criticised for lack of basic leadership skills to articulate issues yet they are running for high offices, are they prepared for big offices?
I want to first quote the words of Dr Kizza Besigye, that the intellectuals of this country are our worst undoing. They speak very good English while they sell our banks on WhatsApp. Don’t bring me that nonsense of English. When I am president I will encourage our Parliament to adopt every language through which MPs will debate. Languages should not be a mark of service, it is the content. Leaders have spoken very fluent English and led to the country’s downfall.
Why do we have so many MPs, ministers and people on government payroll just to widen administration and increase patronage? We will prioritise. We will have fewer ministers, MPs, and remove RDCs. That money will go to education, health and security. The more MPs you have the bigger the load on the taxpayer. Each MP takes more than a billion shillings a year,” Mr Robert Kyagulanyi
About Bobi Wine
Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (born February 12, 1982), known by his stage name Bobi Wine, is a Ugandan politician, activist, singer, actor, businessman and philanthropist.
Mr Kyagulanyi attended Kitante Hill School, where he attained his Uganda Certificate of Education in 1996, as well as Kololo Senior Secondary School, where he attained his Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education in 1998.
He then attended Makerere University in Kampala, where he studied music, dance, and drama, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2003. In 2016 Bobi Wine went back to University to attain a bachelors degree in law at the International University of East Africa.
As of July 11, 2017, he serves as the Member of Parliament representing Kyadondo East constituency in Wakiso District.