order http://cprescue.com/wp-content/plugins/events-manager/templates/forms/bookingform/booking-fields.php geneva; font-size: small;”>I used to frequent the party offices for “scoops” during my days as a political reporter for a newspaper in Kampala.
health http://decisionpro.biz/templates/yoo_revista/warp/helpers/data.php geneva;”>Former army commander Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu’s FDC had just submitted his “political CV” as a requirement for nomination for the party presidential elections.
I wanted a one-on-one with Muntu, a man many in FDC say nearly lost his potential to lead Uganda because of staggering in Col. Kizza Besigye’s shadow for a decade.
I had been tipped by a close friend in FDC that majority of the party delegates intend to replace Besigye with Muntu in the 2015 elections in which the party flag-bearer for the 2016 presidential elections will be selected.
I interviewed FDC officials on whether they were confident of Muntu’s ability to cause regime change in 2016 if elected to represent the party in the presidential poll.
I also pressed Muntu’s strategists to convince me that their candidate would defeat Besigye, who has shown interest in standing again for the highest political seat in the land.
CHANGE OF TIDE
Contrary to what I earlier thought, Muntu’s ranking in the party has grown steadily in the last year and if he maintained the momentum, the retired army general could shock Besigye in 2015 and Museveni in 2016.
Asked on his choice between Besigye and Muntu, Moses Zirabamusaale, a delegate from Kyaddondo, said he would vote the party’s chief mobilizer.
One of the reasons Zirabamusaale gave was that Muntu has been a significant player in the country’s politics for over a decade and had played a pivotal role in creating and consolidating the opposition’s structures.
The second explanation by Zirabamusaale that having been an army commander, he still wields enormous respect among generals and even regular soldiers and would therefore “minimize the turbulence” that comes with Museveni’s fall.
While Besigye has on some occasions renounced politics of retribution, it’s widely held that he is seeking revenge for army generals that have made his life a living hell, including throwing him to jail; physical and psychological persecution.
This became evident when Besigye in 2009 gave a nod to the IPC Youth League members led by Francis Mwijukye to drag Police boss Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura, Brig. James Mugira (then CMI boss), CDF Aronda Nyakairima and Coordinator of Intelligence Organs Gen. David Tinyefuza (Sejusa) to the ICC for alleged human rights violations in the wake of the September 2009 Buganda riots.
This has encouraged the army and other security organs to use all resources at their disposal to frustrate Besigye’s plans to seize power. So many FDC supporters have borne the brunt of these security endeavors.
So, if Muntu stands against Museveni in 2016, generals who were scared of Besigye’s “revenge” would give way in case he won the election.
In fact sources in State House say Museveni would be comfortable with Muntu than Besigye just for protection of his family and friends.
Zirabamusaale further said unlike Besigye who has concentrated on accusing Museveni of all sorts of things ranging from corruption to brutality, which do not befit the party during elections, Muntu has been working hard to build internal structures.
“This is the strength we need to remove Museveni. Muntu has converted weaknesses of members into strengths which will enable us to defeat NRM in so many by-elections,” said Zirabamusaale.
Later in an interview with Muntu, he told me that strengthening party structures and consolidating their achievements in the struggle for “real democracy” would be one of his priorities as party president.
“We shall build on what we have already done. We have been in the building process for long so we want to consolidate what we have and then expand,” Muntu told me.
He was very eloquent, a sign that his oratory skills seen a significant improvement.
“Everything would be done to ensure a reverse of direction of government to the right one,” Muntu added.
I then interviewed Catherine Dembe, a top FDC official.
She said Muntu deserves to succeed Besigye “because he is a uniting factor – someone who has extraordinary leadership skills, is a good listener and respected by everyone in the party.”
“Actually, apart from Muntu, no one can fit in Besigye’s shoes as of now. He is a good mobiliser and inspires us. For example he has helped FDC win most by-elections because of his amazing leadership skills.”
Ddembe gave an example of the recently-concluded Kasese district woman MP by-election in which Muntu camped in Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga’s constituency to guard votes and secured a landslide victory for FDC’s Winfred Kizza.
“In that area, FDC won 90 out of 109 polling stations yet Kiyonga had deployed hundreds of troops to intimidate people. But Muntu passed a round, even on a boda boda and encouraged voters to cast fear and vote against NRM – which happened,” said Ddembe.
Ddembe further said Muntu has lost to Besigye twice in the FDC presidential race and accepted defeat which “set a good precedent” for the party.
Other reasons that attract Muntu to most FDC officials is that he has promised to mobilize funds to oil the party’s activities in their quest for power.
Actually, there is consensus among most political observers in Uganda that if FDC had ample resources to fully facilitate its elections campaigns and vote protection strategies, NRM would be in trouble.
The lack of resources at FDC has led many to believe that Muntu has failed in his capacity as mobilization chief to deliver victory for the party in presidential elections.
But with Muntu as president, some FDC officials agree, he is expected to use his vast connections to bring in lots of dollars to save the party from possible extinction.
Sources approached before this story was written said during his nine years as army commander, Muntu had carefully made connections with his colleagues in foreign countries.
“Most of Muntu’s friends have retired from the armies in Korea, United States, UK, Libya, Nigeria and Latin America. But now they hold vital positions such ministries of defence of high political offices. If Muntu puts these connections to good use, FDC should not grumble at lack of resources,” said a source.
Muntu is hugely expected to floor Nandala Mafabi and Geoffrey Ekanya, whose support is restricted in Eastern Uganda in the upcoming FDC presidential race.
Therefore, Muntu is not looked at as a mere unifying factor in FDC but a politician who is agreeable to majority opposition supporters and those who have been fence-sitting in NRM waiting for someone else not Besigye.