President Yoweri Museveni made it clear at the Inter-party Organization for Dialogue (IPOD) Summit that he has no interest in retiring from politics for as long as the key issues for which he joined the field are still unaddressed.
The summit was the first of its kind for the organization — which unites all political parties with representation in parliament — with President Museveni, who is also chairman of the ruling NRM party in attendance.
Museveni, 74, told the extraordinary meeting that two of the main five reasons for which he joined politics have not been addressed to this date.
These two issues, he said, are; prosperity and strategic security of Africa.
“I don’t have to be in politics, because I have my job,” Museveni stressed. “I am a cattle keeper. I am not a ruler. If you want to know, my father died at the age of 97. He hadn’t been a member of the LC1 (village council). My uncle that died recently had never been member of the LC1. I am the first member of my family to be in government.”
What forced him into politics, Museveni said, was first, to help African families, companies, businesses and people to become prosperous.
This, he said, could only be achieved through unity and regional integration, which at his young age was being championed by former Tanzanian leader Julius Nyerere.
“That’s why I became his follower. He had the right idea.”
The other reason he joined politics, he said, was to pursue strategic security of the continent, by ensuring that the mistakes that led to Africa’s colonization are not repeated.
“For me I am in politics because of these two; survival for Africa, and the destiny of Africa.”
The president went on to describe other issues, such as elections, power transition and asking him to retire, as “petty.”
One of the IPOD leaders, Hon Norbert Mao of the Democratic Party had expressed his wish to see Mr Museveni “in the audience attending the inauguration of another president.”
“I hear people like Mao talking about transition,” Museveni retorted. “That is not what is most important.”
“Political players instead of talking about the survival of Africa, they are talking about elections and who is coming next.”
“For me if I still have the strength, I will put across my point of view. I will not retire when the issues of Africa remain undressed as we talk of petty things like elections. These are my reasons for being in politics. I have no other interests.”
The IPOD Summit which took place at Speke Resort Munyonyo was not attended by the leading opposition party, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).
With empty seats in the audience and at the podium, the absence of the FDC was regretted by stakeholders including the current IPOD Chairman and UPC President Jimmy Akena, who said he wished the party would attend the next summit.
On his part, President Museveni said missing the summit was missing a great opportunity.
Without directly mentioning the FDC, Museveni wondered “why anyone that calls himself a democrat would fear dialogue.”
“Dialogue is the beginning of democracy,” he said. “When you miss dialogue, you miss the opportunity to be understood clearly. When I dialogue with you, I tell you what I feel and you understand me better.”
Museveni added, “Dialogue is a command from God. When I say I want to lead people and I say I don’t want to talk to some of them that means I betray my mandate. I am not part of those who don’t want to talk, I have never been.”
“You can’t say you are a leader and you don’t want to talk. It doesn’t mean that you have to agree with what is being discussed; you just need to put your point of view.
Earlier, the heads of the IPOD party members engaged in a closed door summit meeting, which according to Chairman Jimmy Akena, was filled with passionate discussions.
Museveni said a number of issues to be communicated later, were agreed upon by all members during the meeting, including the parameters of funding political parties in the country, as well as the issue of politicians abandoning their own parties in the middle of the term to join others.