KAMPALA — A document circulating via several platforms on Wednesday July 21 has made damning allegations against Forum for Democratic Change’s (FDC) top leadership— including intrigue and backstabbing amongst top officials.
In the document, Dr. Kizza Besigye is accused of undermining the party’s top leadership and ignoring party structures that Gen. Mugisha Muntu had built after he allegedly launched a pressure group Power Ten with in FDC.
“Money was put in creating Power Ten instead of using the already existing structures created by Gen. Muntu”, says the document being anonymously circulated by an alleged member of FDC National Executive Committee.
Dr. Besigye has repeatedly dismissed allegations that he undermines top FDC leaders by remotely controlling the party.
His associates say such an assertion is well calculated state sponsored propaganda.
WHAT IS KILLING FDC?, An insider’s view on state of affairs.
FDC has faced the heaviest storm since it’s formation in 2005.
This storm has resulted in losing over 15 MPs & other former MPs & leaders. The MPs who have abandoned FDC include, Hon Kiiza Winnie, Hon Robert Centenary, Hon Abdu Katuntu, Hon Jack Wamai Wamanga, Hon Ogenga Latigo, Hon Odongo Otto, Hon Regan Okum, Hon Elijah Okupah, Hon Angeline Osege, Hon Simom Oyet, Hon Edmond Ariko, Hon Paul Mwiru, Hon Kasiano Wadri & Hon Gerard Karuhanga, Hon Nabilah Sempala
Of the 15, three have been independent but FDC alligned like Wadri, Karuhanga & Hon Reagan Okum.
Former FDC MPs who were expected to bounce back include Hon Alaso, Hon Ochola, Hon Florence Ibbi & Hon Christine Abia Bako have all joined the Alliance for National For Transformation party led by Gen Mugisha Muntu.
The 15 MPs are also working closely with Mugisha Muntu except Hon Odong Otto who hasn’t decided yet.
Having worked on the party secretariat, having been a Party Candidate, member of National Council, NEC & people’s government, i know of many facts of what has been happening to the extent of finding ourselves in this controversy.
The problems of FDC didn’t begin today, all that we see today is a pile up of issues that haven’t been handled earlier alone.
*MUGISHA MUNTU VS BESIGYE FUED*
initially FDC got divided among two groups, one which believed in defiance & another by party building. The one of party building was championed by Mugisha Muntu while the former was by Dr Besigye.The two tendencies have shaped all the political contests that FDC had.
Besigye’s approach became appealing because it attracted vocal party actvists like Ingrid Turinawe, Francis Mwijukye, Nandala Mafabi, Wafula Ogutu and others who now control the party yet the party building strategy appealed to moderates, eldely and the middle class.
INTRIGUE IN THE PARTY
when Mugisha Muntu started contesting with Besigye he was looked at as a spoiler who had been sent to undermine Besigye. Because Muntu was not aggressive, many looked at him as someone who was compromising or compromised & thus started fighting him internally. However because he immediately backed Besigye whenever he lost, made Muntu acceptable in the Party but also made him appeal to the NRM people & middle class. So Muntu projected himself as someone who would bring in new faces in the party, which FDC people questioned thinking that he would sell the party to Museveni. So it appeared some FDC Members were comfortable to maintain a few people they could trust than a leader who would bring in new faces that they wouldn’t certainly trust.
MUNTU VS MAFABI
In 2012, Mugisha Muntu defeated Nandala Mafabi in a tight race, an election that Mafabi challenged. Mafabi who lost by 32 votes accused Hon Alaso of voting twice after she voted for Dr Munini Mulera who was then FDC envoy in Canada & also a supporter of Muntu. Mulera as well later joined ANT.
Following this crisis, Gen Muntu being a Military officer & political scientist, tried to manage the crisis in following ways.
1. He constituted a commitee chaired by elders & senior citizens to look into the issues. The committee later found that the election was free & fair but made some reccomendations that were later implemented.
When Mafabi lost that case, he did the following;
1. Started a process of registering a Farmers Party which later was dropped.
2. He mobilised his MPs to stop contributing monthly contributions.
3. Hon Jack Sabiti who was the treasurer & his Deputy Nandala Mafabi resigned making the parties finance department dyfunctional.
4. some MPs withdrew participation in party activities.
5. Dr Besigye opened an office at Katonga road where parallel activities would be held. All those that were not comfortable operating in Najanankumbi shifted to Katonga road.
6.Mafabi refused to submit reports to Muntu yet he was a leader of Opposition in Parliament for one year. Some scholars who included Dr Mwambutsya Nsebesa, Dr Khisa Moses & others tried to reach out to Mafabi who refused to meet Muntu.
7. Whereas Muntu ran a campaign of building structures, Dr Besigye who is the partys God father started running campaigns that building a party under a disctator is useless.. He re-echoed this in the campaign accross the county with Dr Bishop Zac Niringiye duped No reforms No elections.
Besigye even mobilised Ugandans not to register for National IDs claiming that the army didn’t have a mandate to man National data bank from which the voter’s register would be developed. indeed many did not register including Hon Nobert Mao.
So Muntu found himself between a rock & a hard stone, as he preached party building, Besigye preached the opposite and so supporters became confused.
HOW MUNTU HANDLED THE CRISIS
1. Muntu took a tolerent approach even when he was undermined.
2. Muntu accomodated the Besigye faction of Katonga road.
3. In one National Council meeting held at Najanankumbi which i attended leaders demanded that the party shames those MPs who had refused to remit their funds & Muntu refused because he didn’t what to embarrass senior leaders.
4. Muntu dropped Mafabi as a Leader of Opposition & appointed his (Mafabi’s) close confident Hon Wafula Ogutu to the position. He also appointed other members like Hon Kaginda on a shadow Cabinet, & that brought some harmony in the party.
Muntu processed & build structures atleast to parish level together with the other leaders.
2015 DELEGATES CONFERENCE
In 2015, there was a delegates conference meant to choose other party leaders except the Party President because Muntu was leading a five year term. It was held at Lugogo UMA grounds & i was a delegate. Both Muntu faction & Mafabi/ Besigye faction prepared in advance.
Hon Mafabi contested with Hon Kasiano Wadril for secretary General, Ingrid Turinawe with Anita Amongi as National Mobiliser, Hon Wandela Ogalo from Muntu’s camp vs Waswa Birigwa from Besigye camp as a Party Chairman etc etc.
The team of Besigye & Nandala came with excitement, for example Birigwa was introduced as a founder of Celtel Uganda, he promised that he would build a storied building for FDC offices, among other things. Mafabi promised to buy a motorcycle for each District, a phone for each District & to pay rent for the campaign period for each District.
Because the Party had been suffocated financially because of failure by MPs to remit funds, many FDC delegates looked at Mafabi as a savior, besides as the beginning of unity in the Party.
Indeed it became clear that Muntu was losing grip on the FDC Party. Whereas he lost the physical grip, he seemed to possess the ideological grip on the party. Issues like management skills, ideological orientation, trainings, meetings, processes etc became his main contribution. Actual during his term FDC got 16 new MPs, hundreds of councillors & LC leaders. However he didn’t cause excitement in terms of noise making.
In 2016 elections, Muntu contested with Dr Besigye for the Party flag. Muntu campaigned on the platform that he would stand with or with no reforms while Dr Besigye contested on a platform of defiance, no reforms no elections.
FDC delegates who believed that Besigye had a plan B & who had already been convinced that elections were meaningless supported Besigye who comfortably defeated Muntu.
Muntu rallied behind Besigye as a party candidate which made him appear as a democrat.
HANDLING 2016 ELECTIONS
When Dr Besigye won the flag he formed his own campaign task force & not the one of the party. One of the seniors of this campaign team were Ingrid Turinawe, she was in charge of all the logistics.
One of the challenges was that Muntu was no longer in charge, Mafabi was in charge of secretariat as a secretary General, Ingrid was in charge of campaigns, so Muntu was kicked out.
Mafabi conflicted with the party administrator who was appointed by Muntu called Rose Nasanga, unfortunately she passed on of Cancer & was demanding salary arrears of 3 months which Mafabi had refused to sanction.
Besigye also ignored the structures that Muntu had built & launched Power Ten. Money was put in creating of power ten instead of using the already existing structures created by Muntu.
In some districts, leaders got divided because resources for mobilisation & guarding votes would be given to people who are not necessary party leaders. The Power Ten was chosen at headquarters & not at district. For example a Party Chairman would hear that money has been sent to Power Ten Cordinator which would undermine the main leadership.
Candidates were supposed to receive nomination fees, some candidates didn’t get any single coin. Mafabi being the sectary General was in charge of everything at secretariat.
Much of the campaign resources were put on Dr Besigye. For example 3bn was used to print posters for Dr Besigye. MPs were only given a half of nomination fees.
On Polling day only 30,000 was sent to each polling station to facilitate power ten members, this meant that 10 people were supposed to take each 3000= as lunch & facilitation for guarding votes. Imagine paying 3000 to an agent when NRM is distributing money in millions?
POST 2016 CRISIS
After 2016 elections, because the votes were guarded by Power Ten, of the 24000 declaration forms, 9000 were not collected. So it was hard to prove that we had won when 30% of the results were not retrieved.
Dr Besigye however Insisted that he had won & after voting, him, Gen Muntu & Ingrid were arrested at Najanankumbi, Besigye was later put under house arrest for months. When he sworn himself, he was charged of treason & its Mugisha Muntu, Nandala Mafabi & Hon Kaginda who stood for him at a bail of 50m each.
Following that, there was a discussion of whether the party should accept to form a shadow Cabinet yet it claimed to have won elections.
Forming a shadow Cabinet comes with some previlages & resources, but also gives a chance for a party to demonstrate its leadership capabilities.
Some party leaders especially from Besigye camp objected to that, however Muntu insisted that if FDC didn’t do that any other opposition party would take advantage of the situation, like it had previously happened with EALA when we lost two slots to UPC & DP.
When Muntu convinced them, he chose Hon Winnie Kizza as LOP & Hon Semujju as chief whip. still he balanced both extremists & moderates.
Now Besigye supporters argued on whether whoever goes there should be called Leader of Minority or Leader of Opposition…Hon Nandala wrote a letter saying that Hon Kizza was a leader of Minority which the speaker dismissed
Gen Muntu Swiftly wrote a letter indicating that it was leader of Opposition.
Besigye supporters cursed Muntu claiming that if he had not appointed shadow Cabinet, then Museveni would have either accepted an election audit or accepted defeat. They accused Muntu of selling the party.
Gen Muntu named a committee to handle all activities of defiance to reclaim the victory. A Budget was even allocated but even reports would not be submitted to the party. Meetings would take place at Hon Nandal Mafabi’s house in Kyambogo near the University where Besigye, Bakandonda, Ingrid, Mafabi & others would strategise. I attended some of the meetings & our phones would even be kept at the entrance. Muntu the party leader was not privay to the meetings.
FDC chose who would represent them in the EALA, an election was held by NEC & Hon Ibi Florence defeated Ingrid Turinawe.
Hon Mafabi who was Secretary General endorsed both Candidates instead of one. Whereas DP & UPC had one Candidate each, FDC sent two & Hon Florence lost because the votes were divided.
MUNTU VS AMURIAT
In 2017, FDC had another hot election. The campaign was full of hate, propaganda & throwing of words at each other. Besigye openly supported Amuriat who was not known anywhere. Besides being an MP for 3 terms, Amuriat had never held any position in the party or in Parliament. Besides other national politicians, Amuriat couldn’t speak even Luganda. Because of the backing of Besigye, Amuriat defeated Muntu hands down.
in the campaign Ingrid Turinawe & Hon Mwijukye Francis ran a campaign of hate saying that Muntu was a spy. They said that Muntu had delt with AIGP Andrew Felex Kaweesa to arrest Besigye at Najanankumbi & thus to confiscate the DR forms. They also claimed that Muntu had wanted to nominate himself as a candidate in 2005 when Besigye was in prison saying that the nomination forms of Muntu were confiscated by Winnie Byanyima.
So they succesfully potrayed Muntu as a traitor of the struggle & a mole.
Muntu however had the support of the elites like MPs, Party district Chairmen, & moderates while Amuriat got support of the Besigye enthusiasts.Prior to voting, delegates were transported to the home of Rubaga mayor Sebugwawo where videos of Besigye & Amuriat being arrested together were played. They looked at Muntu as somebody who had betrayed Besigye.
Actually a campaign was run that Muntu had chased Besigye from the headquarters of FDC & that actvists were not welcome there. Amuriat seemed like was campaigning for Besigye.
Amuriat actually promised that with him all party leaders would subscribe to defiance as one strategy.
MUNTU LOSES ELECTION
When Muntu lost elections, the situation was very tense. As we stood with Hon Amuriat during vote counting hours, he told me, “if i win this election, FDC will break, if i lose maybe it can remain united, i can’t believe some people dislike me like this”
As i sat with Hon Winnie Kizza, Hon Centenary & Gen Muntu after counting the votes, Hon Munyagwa came jubilating in front of Muntu saying, ” bye bye Museveni, Bye Bye Museveni,We have defeated Museveni” and many others chanting like that.. I went & saluted Muntu, consoled him, i went & congratulated Hon Amuriat, but i saw the beginning of FDC breakdown.
Many people especially MPs were so wouded that they would rather leave Parliament than stepping at Najanankumbi, this was because of the blackmail made against them.
What followed was to drop shadow Cabinet appointed by Muntu… He replaced Winnie Kizza with Beti Aol Ocan, He replaced Hon Katuntu with Hon Munyagwa? Hon Cecilia Ogwal with Hon Mwijukye etc.
So how many reports has Munyagwa made? Visit Hon Aol Ocan Facebook page & when you find ten comments & ten likes, its when you know that she was less qualified.. Basically the appointments were to reward those who supported Amuriat over those of Muntu.
WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE?.
A Party that had elections in 2017 would have reconciled with all its members who are now deserting the party.
If there are people who are killing FDC, they are;
1. Dr Besigye
2. Nandala Mafabi
3. Ingrid Turinawe
If there are things killing FDC they are;
2. Lack of situation Analysis
3. Lack of respect to other views
4. Focusing on external threats than Internal threats.
FDC focuses on fighting the enemy but doesn’t focus on retooling itself or doing self evaluation..
When a party loses a third of its MPs, yet most FDC MPs are the fulcrum on which the party stands especially in their districts, and you see the FDC leaders on TV, radios & on social media bashing them & calling them traitors etc then know that party has a problem..
If Museveni can talk to rebel MPs yet he has over 300 royal MPs, if USA can talk to China, if governments negotiate with rebels, how can a party lose its MPs & then you smile that all is okay, then know that there is a problem with that party or it’s unserious.
FDC has an opportunity to reinvent itself, it is too late to regain the lost members but can learn a few lessons.
The author is an anonymous member of the FDC NEC