Besigye, new shadow ministers causing trouble
Will Kizza Besigye walk out of prison on July 6? That is the day the former presidential candidate and de facto leader of the opposition will reappear in the High Court in Kampala for his application of bail to be decided.
His lawyer, Laudislaus Rwakafuzi, told The Independent that Besigye will be granted bail because “according to the law, no court can deny him bail”.
Ingrid Turinawe, who is also the party’s head of Mobilisation has already started rallying the troops to receive Besigye.
“This will be a day we expect him to walk out of Luzira prison gate,” Turinawe posted on her Facebook wall, “Kindly note the above schedule, attend court/s to give our president support.”
But what if the improbable happens and Besigye is not granted bail and does not walk free?
That is a prospect the leadership of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) is considering with apprehension.
The Independent has learnt that the continued detention of Besigye could inspire a revolt within his party targeting its official leader, retired Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu. Some in the party accuse him of failing to make Besigye’s release a party priority.
Some observers, however, say although Besigye’s fate is being fronted by some as the sticking issue at the heart of FDC current troubles, it is a red-herring. The real cause of trouble for Muntu is, once again, a squabble over his choices of party leaders in parliament. Some who were not appointed feel aggrieved. They accuse Muntu of rewarding those loyal to him and punishing perceived opponents within the party.
If this view holds, it exposes the extent to which divisions created in 2012 as a result of a nasty campaign for the party presidency in which Muntu beat current party Secretary General, Nandala Mafabi, still run deep.
Otto attacks Muntu
Aruu County legislator, Odonga Otto, is no Muntu loyalist and he is among those accusing Muntu of not doing enough to free Besigye.
But even by Otto’s previous standards, his June 22 lambasting of Muntu on his Facebook page was unprecedented.
Otto wrote: “I Know (now) believe Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu was sent to destroy FDC and has partially started to succeed.
Where was he when Besigye was being sworn in? Now it is an offence both to Muntu andMuseveni to be close to Besigye.”
He added: “We told them not to institute an opposition cabinet until Besigye was released no one could heed now Besigye is fighting a lone battle for his life and health. We have betrayed him.”
“This is the first stepMuntu has taken to dig his own political grave,” Otto added.
Otto’s post has been shared extensively on social networks and has become a talking point amongst political pundits.
But the legislator could have been incensed by Muntu’s choice of the shadow cabinet, which he said excluded Nathan Nandala-Mafabi, Nabila Nagayi, Elijah Okupa and himself, a fact he attributed to nothing but direct vengeance on the key Besigye loyalists.
Muntu denies the allegation against him. On his official Facebook page, the party president posted: “If I was vindictive or vengeful I would have used my position to field candidates against all MP candidates who had not supported me during our presidential and flag bearer primaries like was done against most MP candidates who supported me. I campaigned for all party candidates regardless of whether they had ever supported me or not. If I was vengeful or vindictive I would not have comfortably and successfully worked with a NEC that is composed 8o% of colleagues who did not support me in the primaries for now one year.”
The timing of this criticism is critical as Muntu faces an election early next year and he has to be plotting his reelection at a time his critics are raising dust over his failure to “champion the struggle against President Yoweri Museveni’s dictatorship”.
By failing to champion the struggle, Muntu’s critics mean he has not pushed enough for the “defiance campaign” articulated by Besigye that refuses to recognise Museveni as the rightfully elected president in the February elections.
Besigye is in jail in Luzira Maximum Security Prison partly as a result of his refusal to renounce the defiance campaign which the party launched after President Museveni was announced the winner of the February 2016 elections with 60% and Besigye second with 35%.
Now Muntu is accused of not ensuring that the party intensifies activities to ensure that Besigye is released from prison. It is, however, not clear what action the critics expect Muntu and the party leadership to take that can translate into enough pressure to force government to release Besigye.
Some party officials are castigating Muntu for betraying Besigye because he is carrying on with party business as usual. But many disagree.
“I do not subscribe to that view,” city lawyer, Laudislaus Rwakafuzi told The Independent, “In the circumstances, I do not see what the FDC leadership can do to have Besigye released,” says lawyer Rwakafuzi, who is representing Besigye in court in one of the many cases the opposition leader faces. Former Leader of Opposition (LoP), Ogenga Latigo told The Independent that the mistake that too many people make is to tie the fate of Kizza Besigye to that of FDC.