By Agnes E. Nantaba & Ronald Musoke
Will Besigye soldiers deliver in his ‘war’ aimed at ‘giving power back to the people?’
Ahead of the official kickoff of the presidential campaign on Nov.09, Dr. Kizza Besigye, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential aspirant in the 2016 general election wasted no time in unveiling his campaign taskforce at the party headquarters in Najjanankumbi.
Maintaining his tough rhetoric, Besigye likened the campaign season, which officially kicked off on Nov. 09 and is expected to run until Feb. 16 to war.
The FDC party flag bearer whose three key messages to the electorate are liberation, the restructuring of state institutions and inclusive development rallied his team reminding them that they have had a difficult journey via all kinds of corners, adding that real work has just begun. He said FDC is on the brink of what it has fought for, for years.
The campaign task force has been split into two units [mobilisation and organization] while the technical team will deal with communicating the FDC’s message.
Leading the campaign taskforce team is Amb. Wasswa Birigwa, the national party chairman and he will be deputized by Salaam Musumba, the LC V Chairperson for Kamuli District.
However, rtd Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu, the FDC president is the head of Besigye’s campaign team which includes other members like Wafula Oguttu, the leader of opposition in Parliament, Maj. John Kazoora, Kevina Taaka, Cecilia Ogwal, Hon. Nabilah Naggayi and Ingrid Turinawe.
Chaapa Karuhanga who stood as a presidential candidate in the 2001 general election has been named as the chief campaign monitor.
Besigye’s special mobilization team is headed by Kampala city mayor, Erias Lukwago. It includes other non-party members David Sejusa, Ken Lukyamuzi, Moses Kasibante, and Shifrah Lukwago.
Tororo County MP Geoffrey Ekanya who led Besigye’s campaign team in the race for party flag bearer in August will head the field team and will be deputized by Patrick Amuriat. Other members on the team are Yusuf Nsibambi (city lawyer), Patrick Baguma, Joyce Ssebugwawo, Nandala Mafabi and Chaapa Karuhanga. Augustine Ruzindana and Amanya Mushega will act as campaign advisors.
Besigye also come up with regional teams which will be headed by Reagan Okumu (north), Okello-Okello JP (Lango), Kaps Fungaroo (West Nile) Nandala Mafabi (eastern), Paul Mwiru (Busoga), Jack Wamanga Wamai (Bugisu), Jack Sabiiti (western) and Joyce Ssebugwawo (Buganda).
Mugisha Muntu, the FDC party president told The Independent on Nov. 09 that the taskforce composition suits the demands ahead of the Feb.18 general election.
“The team is strong enough to ensure that no obstacle stands to block the struggle,” he said.
Birigwa, the director general of the campaign taskforce and the party’s chairman also told The Independent that Besigye has a strong team of committed individuals effect change.
“Some of the members have worked with the NRM government before and can therefore hit through the weaknesses of the regime to sail to victory come February 2016,” he said.
Dan Mugarura, the party’s EC Chairman has also been given special duties within the taskforce.
He has been asked to plan and budget for all candidates in the party, organize all nomination requirements and train vote protectors at all levels.
Commenting on Besigye’s campaign team which has been sourced from all regions of Uganda, Mugarura referred to the recently launched taskforce team as a ‘balanced diet.’
“We hope the team will deliver victory for the candidate and for all people who believe in change for transformation of the country.”
Besigye has attributed his loss in the last three presidential elections to massive rigging and intimidation of the electorate by the ruling party, NRM, which he says is fused with the state.
In 2001, when he stood for the first time, Besigye polled 27% of the vote and finished behind President Museveni who polled 69% of the vote.
In 2006, when he probably gave the incumbent his biggest headache, Besigye won 38% to Museveni’s 59% while in 2011; Besigye declined and polled 26% of the vote to Museveni’s 68%.
What seems to be new this time is the change in strategy in FDC’s quest for votes. Whereas in the past, Besigye’s campaigns have tended to concentrate in both urban and peri-urban centres, perhaps due to a lack of organizational capability that Mugisha Muntu has talked about previously, a new plan seems to be the formation of what is being referred to as the ‘P10’—a group of ten mobilizers at every parish.
These mobilizers are expected to comb the villages and drum up support for Dr. Besigye who is attempting to wrest power from Museveni at the fourth attempt.
At Najjanankumbi, Besigye said all campaigns are won at all the grassroots. Each of the P10 members is obliged to raise another 10 people to multiply the force of grassroots mobilizers, said Besigye.
Ingrid Turinawe told The Independent that the P10 strategy is not only intended to boost the party’s mobilization exercise during the campaign period but also build a critical mass to protect the party’s votes.
“We want to make sure that whoever is going to vote for Dr. Kizza Besigye is registered,” she said, “This data set will then be used to compare with the results from the Electoral Commission.”