By Julius Odeke
Former army commander (1989-1998), Gen. Gregory Mugisha Muntuyera, spoke to The Independent’s Julius Odeke about his campaign for the presidency of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) in election slated for November.
These are the finals days of the campaign. How is the progress?
We are now remaining with 35 days out of the 120 days. I am happy that we moved round the country in the first phase now I am left with Masaka, Mubende and other districts mostly in Central region.
Campaigns and the analysis are reasonably good as well as the poll surveys that were conducted by Research World International (RWI). Yes, it’s true that the research put me at a commanding lead over my rivals; Nandala Mafabi and Ekanya. I got 46.9%; Nandala Mafabi got 25.7%, while Ekanya got 0.6% while the undecided lie on 26.9%. So, you can see the task that I have now of convincing those who are undecided and possibly even those in other camps to vote for me. That is why at the moment we are on the second round of our campaigns to try to cement and bolster support in all corners of the country. I have to work harder till the last day. When the last delegate has cast their last vote is when I will rest.
Your opponents say Research World International (RWI) conducted the survey is being headed by Patrick Wakida who is your friend and that he is in your camp. How credible was that poll survey?
I don’t want to dwell so much on the source of those who conducted the poll survey that put me on the lead, but when I look at the methodology that they used, it makes me content regardless of who carried the poll surveys. I don’t have to look at who carried those polls, but even then, if they are disputing those results, some national newspaper in the city also did a similar survey. Why didn’t they refute their findings because they were very close? Why didn’t they question that newspaper as well? To me, looking at the people who conducted the survey is missing a point.
What makes you tick in this campaigns that you rivals have not learnt?
When I ran twice against Dr Kizza Besigye in the previous party elections, it taught me good lessons and I learnt a lot from Dr Besigye. Dr Besigye is a type of person who has clean politics that I like. His methods of campaigns at that time when I contested against him were purely clean and it’s out of his clean campaigns that I have now learnt to play clean politics and it’s like my opponents in this race have not learnt that. If my rivals could interpret the philosophy that Dr Besigye used in the last two elections it could help both them and I. What I have learnt in politics, is that when you run a clean campaigns, it’s obvious that you have to win. Clean campaigns teach us so many things such as cohesion, and good democratic principles that electorates down there yearn to hear from the contenders. And that is why Dr Besigye beat me twice in those elections hands down, I never grumbled but I had to concede defeat. My rivals have to do that, so that we can grow our party into a strong political party with a base on the ground. I am very careful when I am handling cases of mudslinging by other camps, I and my camp did agree on principle that we should not engage on those counter attacks against them.
If you win the race, how will you unite both your rivals and the delegates that voted them so as to build a strong political party that will wrest power from the sitting NRM party?
My nature and method of doing things is very unique. I will bring together all those camps into building FDC as the most vibrant party in this country. The credibility is born out of the support of the people, and I have the support of the people and their trust as well. Even those delegates who never supported me during my contests against Dr Besigye have come to support me. Even those who are attacking me; I have not even at any single moment thought of retaliating because I know it’s wrong to do that.
There issues being raised by some of your opponents that you have been a Secretary for mobilization and you have failed to mobilise support for the party in western Uganda. How will you mobilise now when you are a party president?
These are the attacks that I have been telling you about. But what is important to me is that the delegates know what I have done to this party in terms of making it grow, so I don’t have to worry about that. I have seen many old parties in the country that have been there for long but have no numbers, but what I intend to do is to ensure that FDC party will be a party for everybody in this country. Those who undermine my efforts in relation to building my party are simply misguided. As I speak, our country has 112 districts and I am working hard to ensure that we shall have a branch network in all of them. Its challenging but I know we shall achieve that one day.
When you talk of mobilization, what rings into people’s minds are funds? Where are you going to derive funds for the party activities and possibly funds that will help you run for presidency come 2016?
This is another topical issue in the party. Source of funding for the party is a crucial matter that one has to put at the forefront, but it’s also important that when you have the trust of your party supporters then that will become an easier thing. But for the record purposes, I am not contesting in order to be a party flag-bearer who will stand for presidency come 2016; I am campaigning to be the party president. Then after this, we shall again have the same elections in 2015, whereby those who will be interested in being flag bearers for 2016 presidential elections shall come up. Delegates will again have to choose whoever will be the flag bearer. If the delegates deem it necessary that I, Muntu, become their flag bearer then I will be humbled to serve them. FDC has been having a significant progress in terms of funds mobilization. When Dr Besigye contested in 2006, FDC managed to source out Shs 800million, now in 2011 elections, the party used Shs 4 billion that was four times than what we used in 2006. I want to be clear; organisations that support parties fund leaders but not parties. I am optimistic that people like me and I will be in position to attract funding from them. Each of the three of us is very much eligible to attract funds from our party supporters. There are people and organisations out there that want and are very much interested in the values that I have exhibited; they know the leadership values I exhibited when I was an army commander.
Which policies do you premise your campaigns?
In FDC, my important target is to build values in the party. So that when people talk about democracy they should really be in position to see it being exercised and practiced in FDC. I want to make people put their weight behind the flag bearer come 2016. I want to see that the recruitment of candidates at all levels is based on FDC party ideologies and that those candidates shall be trained to exercise the party ideologies. When we do this, we shall have those in LC, MP elections win their seats. This will be very important in our party’s scorecard. And we shall ensure that our party policies are successfully implemented in the Local Government, even if we don’t win the presidency. I am also planning on how to rebrand the party through embarking on the process that will ensure FDC has understood the party policies rather than to associate with it with any tangible outcome to the party.
Your last word is?
I am begging my delegates to give me an opportunity to lead the party and to continue building it to become the fastest growing party in the country and to capture power in 2016. When we do this, we can then put this country on track so that all people can benefit from the revenues that government collects from them. There are problems in the current leadership which has been there for the last 26 years. Today we cannot compare Uganda with countries like Malaysia and Singapore and yet at one time they were at the same level of economic growth; why? It’s because of poor leadership in our government that has failed to curb corruption. Today when you look at the per capita income of those two countries, it is ten times that of Uganda. That is because the leadership in those countries is more effective than ours which I don’t want Uganda to face again.