Two weeks into the campaign the two sub-ideologies, defiance and mobilisation, appear to be shaping the Forum for Democratic Change presidential race.
Party members believing in the defiance campaign seem to be getting a louder voice than their counterparts, led by Maj. Gen. (rtd) Mugisha Muntu, who has made mobilising the party’s support from the grass root his mantra.
The defiance group members, loyal to Dr Kizza Besigye, the founding president of the party, are fronting Patrick Amuriat, the former Kumi MP and Mubarak Muyangwa, Kawempe South legislator.
The group wants to capture the party presidency from Muntu and return FDC to its activist roots. Defiance campaigns were launched last year by Dr Besigye as one of the ways of protesting the 2016 presidential polls results.
“The only way to pressurise this government to respond to people’s demands is through defiance campaigns. Building party structures alone will not help our party,” Amuriat has said.
The group never wanted to cooperate with NRM government. Party members like Muyangwa are saying that forming a shadow cabinet in Parliament was one of the grave mistakes Muntu committed last year.
He argues that it was a wrong move to legitimise the NRM government this way and yet Dr Besigye had won the elections.
“After winning the November polls, I am going to withdraw the shadow cabinet. Shadow cabinets are for DP and UPC,” Muyangwa stated.
With such thinking, many party members who seem to be disgruntled with the status quo in the country are determined that Muntu does not get to serve his last term.
Joyce Sebugwawo, the chairperson of Amuriat’a campaigns, says the party needs an action oriented person, adding that Muntu has failed to fulfil his promises.
In 2012, Sebugwawo managed Muntu’s campaigns. Defending why she is now pushing Muntu out of power, Sebugwawo said Muntu failed to recruit more members into the party.
This is the same argument Walid Mulindwa, a concerned member, is holding. He said Muntu when campaigning in 2012, promised to bring in more NRM members and also pledged to inject Shs 50 million into FDC.
“He never fished any member from NRM party but we have seen many FDC members crossing to NRM party during his tenure,” Mulindwa remarked.
At the rallies so far organised by the Amuriat camp, this is the same message being delivered.
Last week, feeling the pressure, Muntu responded to those who criticising him for forming a shadow cabinet, saying the matter was endorsed by the party’s National Executive Committee members.
Ibrahim Kasozi, the Muntu camp spokesman, also attacked those agitating for defiance campaigns, to appreciate every body’s contribution.
“Defiance is one of the strategies some members are using to put pressure on Museveni. But building structures is also very important. And Muntu has done it well,” he explained.
After realising that it might be hard for them to defeat Muntu on their own, the Amuriat camp is in talks with other two candidates to rally behind Amuriat.
Sources close to the talks revealed that they are negotiating with Muyangwa and Moses Byamugisha, to pull out of the race.
“Since Amuriat is more experienced than others, let’s better they rally behind him,” a source revealed.
Muyangwa confirmed of the negotiations, though he complained that it’s being done in an arrogant way. He added that Amuriat is not popular than him.
For now, Dr Besigye has kept some distance away from the public sparring – as he has always done during internal elections. His silence would seem to hurt Muntu more than any of the other four candidate running for arty president, mainly because it speaks a failure to endorse and acknowledge him.
Nonetheless, Kasozi said they are ready to take on any body, adding that fronting one candidate only works if the incumbent is weak.
“We are sure of victory; that’s why we are not panicking,” he added.
Panic has not set in yet, but that emotion will no doubt make itself known in November as delegates gather for the meeting where they will choose FDC’s leaders for the next five years.