The divisions in Uganda’s main opposition party deepened this weekend, with former party President Rtd Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu clashing with MP Roland Kaginda at a political rally in Isingiro District.
FDC honchos had gathered in the area to celebrate the victory of Aaron Turahi in the recent mayoral elections for Endinzi Town Council in Bukanga constituency.
Rukungiri lawmaker Kaginda fired the first shot during the rally at Endinzi play ground, saying Dr Kizza Besigye should “not to dare give space to anyone in FDC who attempts to undermine the decisions” of party President Patrick Amuriat.
“We should not give them a chance because this will leave us behind,” charged Kaginda, a loyal supporter of Besigye and Amuriat.
Kaginda told FDC supporters that the political party “believes in change” and warned those holding positions in the party to “accept changes when they come.”
He emphasised: “I want to tell you that whoever is allergic to change; please don’t come to FDC.”
Kaginda’s comments came against the backdrop of reports that a group of FDC MPs would in future quit the party which they said was embracing politics of radicalism to form an organisation that can accommodate independent liberal moderates.
Kaginda’s fiery rhetoric appeared to target Muntu who was seated near Dr Besigye at the venue.
He said FDC supporter must be wary of people being paid by the ruling party to disorganize other parties via social media platforms.
“For us MPs are united and continue working with others without any hindrance. I also respect the former Leader of Opposition in Parliament (Winnie Kizza) for her tremendous work done,” said Kaginda.
He, however, attacked Kiiza, saying she should not “expect to become everything in the party”, adding, she should not undermine the decision of the party president when replaced.
“When time comes and they say ‘go aside and we do something else’ and you say ‘no’ is not correct. FDC has strong people who have supported FDC since 2001 but have never got any position in the party,’” he charged
“She (Kiiza) is the leader of opposition; wants to be everything…this is what we are fighting in FDC,” added Kaginda.
Kiiza was recently removed from the LOP position, a decision criticized by many political pundits as targeting her for being a supporter of Muntu.
Kaginda’s comments rubbed Muntu the wrong way.
Muntu breaks silence
When his chance to speak to the audience came, he did not mince his words.
Muntu told Kaginda that he is a “straightforward man” who does what he “thinks is right” instead of “beating about the bush.”
The former army commander, who co-founded Reform Agenda that birthed FDC, emphasised: “Kaginda, there are things you have talked about here. As Muntu, I am not corrupt. I am not short tempered. God blessed me with wisdom; in my life there is nothing I can do without understanding I do what I see is correct,” he cautioned.
He added that what is killing opposition is the contestation of strategies.
While Muntu represents Independent moderates, Dr Besigye and the current president Amuriat support radical politics of defiance.
The radicalization of the party has led to the sidelining of moderates whom officials say could end up forming their own party.
Muntu said FDC was living in a state of uncertainty on how opposition would take power.
“This country is going to change. Some people have started seeing signs but what we don’t know is the way it will be changed,” he warned.
“You see, Museveni changed the Constitution twice; removed term limits and presidential age limits. So the country is in the state of uncertainty,” added Muntu
He warned that unless the divisions in FDC are resolved, the culture of fighting that has undermined Uganda’s development for decades would never be resolved.
“For us in FDC and opposition; this is our challenge to chart a path for a peaceful transition which will lead to the country’s development and transformation,” said Muntu.
He, however, expressed hope that the divisions in FDC would be resolved by its experienced leaders.
Nevertheless, Muntu tactfully warned of the possibility of taking a decision that might discomfort FDC.
“We are all old people in opposition. I have experience. My brother Besigye is an experienced leader. We shall use the experience to decide which things must be done like the way we see them rightly. Whether people understand them or not they will later understand them when their time comes,” he cautioned.
Muntu said he would reveal his next steps as soon as he completes his countrywide consultations, a move observers say could be intended to psychologically prepare the country for the formation of a new political party.
Upon losing the position of presidency to Amuriat, Muntu came under pressure from moderates in the party who urged him to form a splinter organisation from FDC which they said was captive to radical politics.
Muntu responded by holding tours across the country.
“We will soon announce our final decision on how Uganda can be reclaimed from bad politics,” he told the people of Isingiro.
Officials told ChimpReports on Sunday that once Muntu’s consultations are over, “he will meet with a team selected by Amuriat to brief them about the consultations and announce way forward.”
Asked if they see light at the end of the tunnel, an FDC official added: “Well, I can’t tell but I know Amuriat is a clean and honest politician. But the forces surrounding him can’t let anything positive to happen.”
Another official told us: “The debate about the two strategies (defiance vs grassroots mobilisation) in FDC is not a new phenomenon. Whenever a discussion on these two approaches happens, there seem to be a consensus that the two are not in conflict but hardly after a day, conflicts over the same emerge. So a consensus can be reached verbally but not in practical terms. I doubt the leaders who have been involved in similar discussions will settle for such outcome.”
Muntu urged the youth not to fear anything if they are to take any decision in life.
“Let me tell you young children you will never reach anywhere whether you’re in politics, business or a farmer when you see what is right and fear to do it”