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Behind Besigye’s campaign chiefs

By Agnes E Nantaba

On Sunday Nov. 8, Dr. Kiiza Besigye the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) flag bearer in the 2016 general elections officially announced his campaign team headed by party chairman Ambassador Wasswa Birigwa deputized by Kamuli District LC5 Chairperson Salaam Musumba. Besigye who has failed to trounce President Museveni on three accounts in 2001, 2006 and 2011 also chose Erias Lukwago the ousted Kampala City Lord Mayor to head the Candidate’s Special Mobilization team comprising other non-party members including Gen. David Sejusa, Ken Lukyamuzi, Moses Kasibante and Shifrah Lukwago.

During Dr Besigye’s inaugural rally at Nakivubo stadium in Kampala after his nomination on Wednesday, the Conservative Party leader and Lubaga South MP, Ken Lukyamuzi, Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and former coordinator of intelligence services, Gen David Sejusa, addressed the gathering at the venue and declared their support to the FDC flag bearer.

Also on the national campaign task force are Muntu and Oguttu who lead the candidate team.
Besides Oguttu and Muntu, the candidate team will also have Yusuf Nsibambi, Patrick Baguma, Joyce Ssebugwawo, Nandala Mafabi, John Kazoora, Kevina Taaka, Cecilia Ogwal, Nabilah Nagayi and Ingrid Turinawe.
Chaapa Karuhanga was named as the chief campaign monitor. The regional teams will be headed by Reagan Okumu (north), Okello-Okello JP (Lango), Kaps Fungaro (West Nile) Nandala Mafabi (eastern), Paul Mwiru (Busoga), Jack Wamanga Wamai (Bugisu), Jack Sabiiti (Western) and Joyce Sebugwawo (Buganda).

Besigye started his campaigns in Rukungiri which also doubles as his home district. Many party members including the chairman of the campaign task force, Wasswa Birigwa described the move as a completion of unfinished business after being stopped a month ago.

“About a month ago, we were stopped from crossing over to Rukungiri so the aim was to complete the unfinished business in the area where people have kept waiting for us,” said Birigwa.

Dan Mugarura, FDC’s EC chief described the party’s flag bearer campaign task force as a pure replica of a balanced diet which can sustain a health body for a healthy being.

“We hope the team will deliver the exact intended results of winning the 2016 presidential elections and strike a balance from all the regions in the country,” said Mugarura.

“It’s a team of experienced people some of whom have worked with the incumbent president before and can therefore bring on board an effective strategy and agenda.”

Wasswa Birigwa

Birigwa who is a former Uganda Ambassador to Japan, crossed over from the ruling NRM party to Opposition Forum for Democratic Change [FDC] at the beginning of this year.

A formerly unsuccessful contestant for the Kampala Mayoral seat, Birigwa had for years languished in the shadows of active politics, much to the dismay of his devotees.

On June 12th, a few months after he had crossed over to FDC, Birigwa in a tight contest for party chairman won Wandera Ogalo and Moses Kasule with 434 votes. Wandera and Kasule had 385 and 53 votes respectively.

Birigwa heading the campaign team according to Prof. Sabiiti Makara a political scientist at Makerere University means a lot more than just understanding the politics of Uganda.

“If the party members can trust him with the chairmanship position which is not a minor one in just a spell of six months or less after he joined the party, then many members actually believe in him and can therefore work with him to break down the manifesto at the grassroots which is the key element,” explained Makara.

Gen David Sejusa

Tinyefuza escaped from Uganda in 2013 after accusing the chief of police, kale Kayihura and Gen. Salim Saleh (President Yoweri Museveni’s younger brother) of trying to kill him because he opposed the “Muhoozi Project”

Although Gen. Sejusa had on several accounts vowed never to join the opposition, he was later seen dinning and winning with many opposition chiefs especially during the TDA meetings to choose a presidential flag bearer.

It still remains not clear to analysts like Prof. Makara on why Dr. Besigye may have included him on the special mobilization team although insists that Sejusa brings a lot to the table.

“Sejusa is in position to mobilize many other bush war fighters who may not openly declare their support but can be turned into votes to boost the support of Dr. Besigye,” explained Makara.

Erias Lukwago

Erias Lukwago, formed a pressure group within the Democratic Party that he named Truth and Justice Platform (TJP). At the launch of the platform, Lukwago said the group works within the established DP party structures.

The formation of the group followed a series of failed reconciliation meetings with top DP leadership especially Norbert Mao who is the party president.

Unlike Lukwago who is part of Besigye’s campaign task force, other DP members declared their support for the Go Forward Presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi. Mao voted in favour of Mbabazi carrying the flag for The Democratic Alliance (TDA) candidate.

DP is also said to have greatly contributed to the choice of starting point of Mbabazi’s campaigns in Masaka district where it has unwavering support.

But even with the divided support of the DP, Prof Makara describes Lukwago as an activist who can help bring on board other DP members and supporters who are not in agreement with the party’s position to support Amama Mbabazi.

Rtd Maj. Gen Mugisha Muntu

Unlike in other political parties where the party president automatically becomes the party’s flag bearer for the country presidential elections, the case in FDC is different. In the race to elect the party’s flag bearer, Besigye won Muntu a defeat that the latter conceded to. The party president honorably conceded defeat and pledged to support Besigye in his presidential bid.

And true to his word, Muntu was part of the team that escorted Besigye to Mandela National Stadium, Namboole for his nomination on Wednesday, and later to Nakivubo Stadium where he addressed his supporters at the nomination rally.

For all the rallies, Muntu has been part of the team which according to Prof. Makara indicates his support to the party’s position and candidate.

Nathan Nandala Mafabi for eastern region

Prof. Makara says Dr. Besigye’s choice of Nandala Mafabi to head the regional campaign team for Eastern Uganda is a good choice since the figure is a crowd puller in the area.“The best campaigners are the people are those who can influence decisions in society and Mafabi happens to be the best choice for the Eastern region,” said Makara.

He however cautioned that Mafabi cannot go at it alone urging that he can still use other community leaders at the ground level to drive the candidate manifesto.”

Kiiza Besigye recently posted on the FDC Face book page that he is ready to invest in education before excesses in government through raising teachers’ salary to Ush1 million, ending the scandal of state house scholarships at universities and turning schools from centers of pretence to centers of excellence.   This however according to Prof. Makara can best be achieved through using the big figures on the campaign team to form committee groups at the grass roots levels that can help break down the message to the common people.

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