I felt sad seeing goons beat up journalists at the FDC headquarters as the Party Chairman Waswa Birigwa was held captive prompting him to jump over a wall fence to escape, an incident which Nandala Mafabi said was stage-managed! It was unfortunate seeing a political party use physical fists to resolve differences that would be solved through dialogue.
Of course these events are an epitome of a political culture that was built in the party for a couple of years. Unfortunately, Gen Muntu prophesied this situation but because some leaders chose noise over logic, he was never listened to.
The unfortunate fact is that many both in government & opposition seem to learn nothing & forget nothing from Mugisha Muntu. Perhaps like it’s the case today, Uganda will learn from him many decades later!
Am sure everyone in FDC who undermined or ridiculed Muntu because of his gentle and humble character must now be feeling embarrassed. Leadership is indeed about character and intellect not popularity or noise!
FDC initially had two ideological stands;
The Muntu ideology was about organization and Party building. Muntu believed that a party should build structures which can be used as a foundation for elections as well as activism, he believed in training leaders to prepare them to run the Party and the state, he believed in having short term plans (activism) and medium-long term plans (preparing for elections), he believed in building institutions & systems for party management and finally in building a value based party with tolerance, accountability, respect & discipline.
The Besigye ideology was defiance. He believes building party structures is a waste of time, he believes preparing for elections is a waste of time and building parties can’t be done under a dictatorship. Again whereas Muntu believes in institutional building arguing that no matter how big a tree is, it can’t be bigger than a forest, Besigye’s supporters believe in cultism, they see Besigye as the alfa & Omega of the struggle. Sadly I see NUP building the same politics!
As Besigye ideology became dominant, to disagree with him became treasonable. To win an internal election in FDC one had to show scars and the number of times he has been arrested. Leadership credentials were measured by how much noise one could make, not how much sense he could talk.
However, as time went on, reality came out! In his recent address Besigye accused FDC leadership for not preparing for 2021 elections and therefore fronting Amuriat as a last minute candidate. This are double standards because since he resigned in 2012, Besigye ran an anti-election campaign and any efforts to talk about elections were seen as “massaging a dictator”! Indeed, Amuriat was brought in to remove Muntu on the same basis claiming that he would reclaim Besigye’s 2016 victory in three years (noise over logic). How then can Besigye blame Amuriat for not preparing for elections yet he had coached him that elections were a waste of time?
Besigye accused FDC Leadership for getting stuck on him to become a flag bearer in 2021 yet he had made up his mind that he would never again appear on a ballot with Museveni. Besigye knew that Muntu was ready to hold the FDC flag in 2021 because they had contested together twice in the FDC primaries. He knew that Muntu was going to serve his last term as FDC President, why did he smuggle Amuriat to fight him yet he (Amuriat) was not interested and not ready to contest in 2021? So in the heart of hearts did Besigye want FDC not to front a candidate in 2021 or did he think there would be no election? Take note that by early 2017 when Amuriat was being prepared to defeat Gen Muntu, Hon Kyagulanyi and people power had not been formed. So qjat was Besigye’s plan for 2021? Why fight Muntu who was ready and bring in Amuriat who was not ready? So people blindly fought Muntu and supported Amuriat knowing that they were creating a path for Besigye yet he had other motives! Failing to prepare is preparing to fail!
Of course Amuriat and Mafabi are dishonest. They blame this crisis on having two centers of power within the FDC. Katonga faction brought Nandala in 2015 as Secretary General to undermine Muntu. They even refused to use his structures to guard votes in the 2016 elections and created a Power Ten structure. Amuriat was brought by the same Katonga group to remove Muntu from the FDC leadership, how can they blame Katonga yet they are its products? When they were based at the Katonga office plotting the downfall of Muntu, did they think they were doing good?
How can they block a Party Chairman from accessing the Party headquarters? Even If Birigwa, Ssemuju, Lukwago, Besigye etc were undermining their leadership, can’t they tolerate them? How comes Muntu as a President tolerated them for five years even when they were figiting him? Can’t Amuriat and Mafabi learn from Mugisha Muntu values of tolerance?
I saw Amuriat blaming Besigye for not fundraising for the Party, did that justify fundraising from President Museveni? How can Amuriat blame Besigye for not fundraising for him? When he was contesting for President did he expect Besigye to do his work? In 2017 I referred to Amuriat as a “half-baked” leader and he got angry with me, this is exactly what I meant!
Lastly the manner in which FDC has handled the controversy reflects a lack of basic values that Muntu always preached; respect, tolerance, discipline, accountability etc. Muntu used to say that his achievements could not be touched, but were crucial for the Party growth, and FDC leaders never understood him. When he left the Party, the values evaporated from the leadership hence the mess we see today.
Muhimbise George is a political analyst!