The wrangles in Uganda’s biggest opposition political party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) are far from over after Kampala woman Member of Parliament Nabilah Naggayi Ssempala nearly walked out of a TV talkshow that featured the party’s Secretary General Nathan Nandala Mafabi.
In a heated debate on NTV on Thursday evening, Mafabi asked why Nabilah didn’t vote against the age limit that extended the presidential age cap from 75 years.
In her response, Nabilah explained she was on a sick leave.
Mafabi’s angrily responded: “Why didn’t you die if you were sick?”
Mafabi’s strong remarks enraged Nabilah who in retaliation stood up, packed her belongings (FDC party card and Constitution) in her bag and attempted to make her way out of the studio.
“Why didn’t I die? Kamara (show host), I am moving out,” said a visibly irritated Nabilah.
This prompted Patrick Kamara, the talkshow host to plead with Nabilah not to leave the studio.
After a few seconds of pleading with Nabilah, the show producer then switched off the cameras.
After the break, Kamara appealed to both Mafabi and Nabilah to respect one another since they are both “honorable Members of Parliament.”
“Honorable Nathan Nandala Mafabi in my view was out of order to say the word he said before we took a break. That kind of language is not going to be accepted neither from Nandala Mafabi or honorable Nabilah. The two of them are honorable Members of Parliament. We expect them to behave in a manner that is honorable,” said Kamara after the break.
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Nabilah, whose nomination forms for the position of Kampala Mayor were recently rejected by FDC, then used Mafabi’s strong statement to expose the “dirt” within the opposition party.
“Mr Kamara, I know, if you see something like this happen on a public talkshow where the honourable leadership of a party can publicly state on TV that by the way you should have died, what do you think goes on outside the lenses of these cameras? The party (FDC) is toxic, there is harassment, there is abuse,” said a charged Nabilah.
She said a number of drug abusers are camped behind FDC party headquarters. These individuals, according to Nabilah, are used by the party to attack FDC members of divergent views.
Mafabi told off Nabilah that FDC will not “die” when “you leave because it (FDC) was built on sweat and blood.”
This past Wednesday, Nabilah went to FDC party headquarters to submit her nomination forms for the Kampala Lord Mayoral race only to be rejected by FDC Electoral Commission Chairman Toterebuka Bamwenda.
Bamwenda told Nabilah that her forms were never picked at the party headquarters or any FDC district office adding that the post of Lord Mayor was not announced by FDC.
He further told her that she submitted the forms past the deadline.
The tension that was building up quickly escalated into a fist fight between the supporters of Nabilah and FDC supporters who were camped at the party’s main office.
The current Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago is serving as Deputy President in People’s Government which was formed by opposition politician Dr Kiiza Besigye and a founding father of the FDC.
The unfolding developments has raised concerns about the future of FDC especially as the country prepares for the 2021 elections.
Several FDC founding members such as Mugisha Muntu, Augustine Ruzindana, Beti Kamya, Amanya Mushega and prominent lawmakers including Paul Mwiru, Alice Alaso and Beatrice Anywar have since left FDC.
They accuse the party’s leadership of intolerance.
Announcing his decision to quit FDC in 2018, Muntu said the party was not focusing on best strategies of causing regime change.
“In our view, the logical thing to have done after we had been cheated in the 2016 general elections would have been to do an assessment of our situation and plug our weak points. Instead, we slid back into our internal fights as had been happening in the last five years,” said Muntu.
“During the party presidential campaigns, it became very clear that there was even less tolerance for alternative views. Not towing the ‘correct line’ meant being branded a mole,” he added.
“After the elections, many of us sincerely wondered whether there was still a place in the party for our views or if we were simply expected to keep quiet and follow whatever others believe.”
The former Leader of Opposition in Parliament and FDC iron lady Winnie Kiiza this week announced she would not be seeking reelection as Kasese woman Member of Parliament.
Similarly, two Members of Parliament from FDC stronghold in Kasese standing on the party ticket had their forms rejected by the party on the pretext that they didn’t beat the deadline.
Recently, FDC nominated former Makerere University lecturer and activist Dr Stella Nyanzi to stand as Kampala woman Member of Parliament in the 2021 general elections.