National dialogue postponed again, say organisers

The proposed National Dialogue involving all stakeholders of Uganda to discuss various issues of national concern has been postponed again.

The event, which was supposed to bring together various stakeholders, such as religious leaders, political leaders, civil society groups, the business community, and other citizens, was initially scheduled to take place last month but was later pushed to this month.

The latest information from the organizers indicates that the dialogue has been postponed again to a later date yet to be confirmed.

The organizers of the event are a group of six entities, which include the Interreligious Council of Uganda, the Elders Forum of Uganda, Women Situation Room, Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy, National Consultative Forum and InterParty Organisation for the dialogue.

The preparations for the National Dialogue were launched by President Yoweri Museveni at State House, Entebbe on December 18, 2018. During the launch, Museveni highlighted patriotism, pan-Africanism, socio-economic development, and democracy, as the key issues he needs to be emphasized during the National Dialogue.

Kitakule, who is part of the organizing secretariat, said: “It is unlikely that the National Dialogue will happen in July. We want a solid National Dialogue with all stakeholders on board. We don’t want to rush it.” Kitakule revealed that from the previous discussions they have had, they resolved to first carry out regional discourses on issues of concern before they could eventually have the National Dialogue.

According to the organizers’ plans, the regional engagements with the citizens are scheduled to take place in the first week of August. Talking about the significance of the National Dialogue, Kitakule said: “It is meant to help in the generating of a national consensus between the citizens of Uganda and their various categories of leaders on how we can craft a future that belongs to all of us.”

Buliisa County MP Stephen Mukitale, who frequently pushes for the National Dialogue, urged all the key stakeholders to be committed to dialoguing so as to resolve pertinent issues that have the potential to take Uganda backward.

“So many things are not okay in our country. The country is greatly polarised. There are so many injustices, which if not resolved, can destabilize the country. The National Dialogue gives us an opportunity to honestly discuss these issues,” Mukitale stated.

Political analyst and researcher Dr. Frederick Golooba-Mutebi argued that the contradictions between what the Opposition wants to be discussed and what the ruling NRM party wants are the reason the dialogue is not likely to happen.

“The kind of national dialogue they are talking about can only take place as a matter of urgency if all parties think it is necessary. Currently, the priorities of the NRM party are completely different from those of the Opposition. The Opposition is talking about a political transition and an independent electoral commission, which the NRM doesn’t want to talk about. The NRM government treats the concerns of the opposition as non-issues,” Golooba argued.