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In a wide ranging interview, Golden Band singer cum DP Politician Ronald Mayinja has broken silence on the row sparked by his conscipicuous attendance of the last Sunday fete in Kiboga where President Museveni congratulated the 317 NRM MPs who voted to scrap the age limit in the Constitution. Mayinja says that his being at the NRM celebration was involuntary and explains the circumstances under which he unknowingly found himself there. The Tulikubunkenke singer says: “First of all this was a contract between my employers the Golden Band and the organizers. I only knew we were going to perform in Kiboga but I quite frankly didn’t know what the function was all about. I think it was a trick by Ruth Nankabirwa to use my presence to score political points for her NRM party while demonizing me politically.” Mayinja says on reaching the venue, he regrettably realized it was the NRM event at which the President would preside over. “It was now a clear dilemma for me. If I left this would give rise to breach of contract claims against the company [Golden Band] and we would legally be in very big problems. It has happened before. We were contracted to perform at Radio Simba’s annual concert the Ekiggunda in Nakivubo but we pulled out because we were uncomfortable sharing a stage with Fred Sebata.

We shunned the concert and we came under a lot of pressure. Radio Simba demonized us and they almost took us to court. Now if we could be subdued by a mere Radio Simba how about the whole of the ruling party coming hard against us as Golden Band? It was a big dilemma but being the well behaved child I’m, I decided to play it cool. I stayed despite being a strong opponent to NRM because I’m DP. It was very painful. I didn’t like what was going on but I stayed there because of the legal consequences Golden Band would face,” Mayinja remorsefully says. On why he didn’t perform famous opposition-oriented songs like Tuli kubunkenke, Africa teri ayamba, Tulwanyisa nguzi and others, Mayinja with whom we caught up at Makerere Faculty of Social Sciences as he prepared to hand over his course work says: “That’s the choice of the organizers who have hired you. They are the ones who chose the songs they wanted me to perform. It wasn’t my decision and you can’t blame me for not performing those other songs you are talking about.” On what exactly was the message President Museveni was whispering in his ear in the photos that went viral, Mayinja says: “The President asked me that my son Mayinja why are you defiant? And I said no sir I’m okay. I’m for DP. I’m not defiant. Then Balaam came in defending me to tell the President ‘sir he doesn’t support your NRM but he isn’t defiant.

He is liberal-minded.” Then Balaam, famous for brokering curious deals between Museveni and popular musicians, promised Museveni “I will deliver him to State House for one on one talks with you.” Mayinja, who says he can’t attend such meetings at State House, says it was hard to walk out of the event because besides the breach of contract fears “I was brought up well. I respect people. He [M7] is an elder and most importantly the president of Uganda. It would look bad if I walked out on him.” Mayinja, who has been pleading with colleagues in especially the Bad DP faction and FDC to understand and forgive him, also says “It’s very hard not to shake the President’s hand when you find yourself on the same function with him because even Dr. Besigye, who I consider his fiercest critic, had to shake hands with the President at Namugongo during the Pope’s visit. It’s something I didn’t know how to avoid and by the way it’s because the media cameras over focused on me but the President didn’t greet me specifically. It was an opportunity for him to greet all musicians. I wasn’t alone.” Mayinja says, as he will be illustrating in the coming months and years, it’s possible to shake the President’s hand and remain a committed opposition activist just like the Namugongo handshake didn’t diminish KB’s opposition to Museveni’s NRM politics. Mayinja also refers to MPs Bobi Wine and Allan Sewanyana plus other DP leaders who inevitably smiled and shook the President’s hand when he drove to Kansanga to mourn the passing of ex-DP president Sebaana Kizito.

The singer also says strategically it was right for him to behave courteously towards the NRM leader because Gomba County where he intends to stand for MP in 2021 (as an opposition-leaning independent) has many voters who are NRM diehards and he needs votes from them the way he needs the same from fellow DPs. He says he has since spoken to his mentor Betty Nambooze and his personal friend Paul Mwiru of FDC begging them to plead his case amongst opposition diehards who remain very bitter with him. Watch out for the full interview!
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