Senior members of the Opposition Democratic Party (DP) have alleged that their party’s leader, Norbert Mao, obtained undisclosed cash from questionable sources to fund his 2021 presidential campaign.
Mao dismissed the claims made by three DP-elected legislators and the party’s national treasurer as baseless and malicious. He challenged them to provide evidence to support their accusations.
Dr. Lulume Bayiga, a Buikwe South Member of Parliament and a DP National Council member, stated that he believed Mao and his close associates received around Shs3 billion. He noted that it was challenging to investigate the source of the money as most members were occupied with campaign activities at the time.
Bayiga pointed out that Mao never disclosed the origin of his campaign funds to party members or the National Executive Committee. Mao received 57,682 votes and finished fifth in the 2021 presidential race won by Yoweri Museveni.
Mao signed a cooperation agreement with President Museveni in July 2022, leading to internal discord within DP. Critics accused Mao of being a political sell-out, especially after he was appointed as the Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister by Museveni.
Party officials such as Lulume, Lumu, Sebamala, and treasurer Kabanda questioned how Mao managed to purchase new vehicles for his campaign when the party struggled to provide nomination fees for other candidates. Kabanda mentioned that the party had limited funds during the 2021 elections and didn’t have enough to support its candidates.
Kabanda, despite being a signatory to the party’s account, claimed she didn’t know the sources of the campaign cash. Mao allegedly told her that an overseas friend provided the finances. Kabanda also raised concerns about money not being deposited into the party account.
Mao refuted the allegations, stating that they were not new and lacked truth. He emphasized that the accusations aimed to tarnish his reputation and lacked evidence.
Mao defended his ability to gather campaign resources due to his experience in politics, dating back to his days as Makerere University guild president. He highlighted the common practice of borrowing money for campaigns and asserted that the allegations were baseless.
Mao declined to disclose specific campaign expenditure details but stated that the party budgeted Shs5 billion, with most of the funds being borrowed. He mentioned that no party member had requested accountability from him.
The allegations against Mao and the internal strife within DP echo similar issues within the FDC party. The controversies highlight mistrust and the role of money in politics.
Political parties in Uganda acquire funding from various sources, including allocations from the Consolidated Fund and contributions from individuals, businesses, and organizations. The sources often remain undisclosed to protect contributors.
DP Secretary General Siranda dismissed the accusations as malicious and demanded evidence from the accusers, expressing frustration with routine detractor claims.