“He is the Chairperson of NEC which approves these activities,” she says, “It is the same NEC which approves the money that funds defiance activities.
“We shouldn’t think that the people who don’t go to the streets like we do are useless because their role in this struggle is also important. If you can’t appreciate people’s uniqueness you can’t be a good leader.”
But other leaders, like Amuriat, say even the two-way approach that Muntu espouses is wrong. Amuriat told The Independent that he wants only one way – defiance of the Museveni regime.
“We won the 2016 elections but the party leadership did not come out strongly to challenge Mr. Museveni. Dr. KizzaBesigye formed a government which has continued the activism but the party leadership has remained indifferent. The party leadership has sat back and left the struggle to individual well-wishers.
He says it is only Besigye, who he calls the leader of the “people’s government”, who is challenging Museveni while Muntu’s party leadership is either aloof or is “massaging Museveni out of power”.
“We need a different approach,” he says, “Having two strategies under one party is disaggregating efforts. If he prefers to refer to organization as a strategy he is missing the point. We are asking organize for what? You can’t organize for elections because we know what happens in elections. We think as a party we should have one strategy and the strategy that is effective is defiance. It is what has kept Museveni on the tenterhooks.”
Amuriat says Muntu has failed to bring new people, the so-called fence-sitters, into the party, has not raised any new money for the party, and has failed to put structures in newly created districts.
Amuriat says Muntu has spent three years fighting Nandala and there appears no end to the conflict.
“It seems he doesn’t have the formula to resolve this impasse and me I believe I have that formula. Our former MP Beatrice Anywar now works with Museveni. What did the party leadership do to bring her back? If the leadership was strong, it would have done whatever it takes to bring to bring these members back,” he says.
Muntu wins hearts
Muntu’s support is mainly from those who value his ability to tolerate and accommodate rivals. Hoima District Party Chairman Jackson Wabyona is in this group. He says Muntu’s accommodative nature has enabled party members to remain under one umbrella.
“Even when others ran away and formed other parties, they came back without feeling that they would be turned away or condemned. When others left for Katonga Road or Kasangati and things didn’t work out and they felt like coming back home, Muntu welcomed them,” he says, “Even when others said parties were useless and vowed never to contest under FDC again, when they came back for their convenience Muntu didn’t even remind them of their remarks.
“If it weren’t for Muntu as PP, FDC would be three parties now.”
The Party’s Deputy Spokesperson, Paul Mwiru, also backs Muntu for the same reason. The former MP for Jinja Municipality says Muntu’s opponents are peddling falsehoods to the delegates telling them that Muntu is weak and has killed the party when they know that is not true. He says “they are dishonest for blaming all the issues the party is grappling with on him.”
“Yesterday I met a delegate who wanted to know my position,” Mwiru told his colleagues on the party whatsapp group, “I informed him I support General Muntu for party stability and for his exceptional performance because he led the party to victory in the 2016 general elections with 52% of the vote.”
But Muntu is blamed for the divisions in the party, the dwindling support in previous FDC-stronghold of eastern and northern Uganda, and reduction of number of FDC MPs in parliament, and the defection of FDC top members to the ruling NRM party of President Yoweri Museveni.
He is being hammered over his strategy. Opponents say they see no progress. “The last time I heard Muntu speak, he was emphasizing grass root structures,” said one Aine, “My worry is what type of roots are these that don’t grow after five years!”
Others like Party Secretary for Mobilisation, Ingrid Turinawe, who is a staunch Besigyeist, are harsher.
“Muntu should stop being selfish,” she said on the Whatsapp group of defiance members `FDC @ heart’.
“Why does he want to remain the only one? We need new faces, new strategies, new ideas to build our party. He is a failure who has lost three times to KB.”
“Yes, he should withdraw,” says another defiance member, “He has failed to set up regional functioning offices to foster growth of grass root structures instead he blames Besigye as if Besigye is the President of the party.”
Another member of the defiance camp Joyce Adikini says Muntu “doesn’t connect with Ugandans and their challenges and members are always wondering what the party President is doing”.
“Muntu has a personality problem and it is that personality that I am convinced makes him unfit,” she says.
“Muntu will have to defend the current state of FDC; the defections, the reduced number of MPs etc,” says John Mugabi, who describes the Muntu-Amuriat competition as a contest between the “comfort zone” and “the need to make FDC greater”.
“It is about power is fought for vs power is freely handed over,” he writes.
But Wilber Seryazi, a Muntu die-hard, sees it differently. He says the contest is about “building an organization vs exciting the masses”. To him, the election is not about “building an individual political cult”.
“This election is about what can bring about change and not necessarily removing Museveni alone.”
He says change is not going to be effected by making the same noise the party has made since 2001. “We have seen that the noise of kigwaleero, agenda luno, tsunami etc,” he says, “It does not work.”