Seryazi says if Muntu remains in FDC and contests to lead the party again, there will be no chance to mobilise support against Besigye during the party’s primary elections to elect a flag bearer in 2020.
“This is the likely scenario; MM wins the Presidency for the next five years and he is fiercely fought by NM and KB loyalists. This will certainly take a toll on him. Come 2020 KB picks nomination forms, campaigns and is elected flag bearer. Muntu will most likely retire and is phased out of politics. Where does this leave our interests?”
Wabyona also disagrees with Wadri. He says the FDC is too divided to work together and that Muntu is being deliberately undermined to stop him from being the party’s presidential candidate in 2021.
“Besigye’s preoccupation is to destablise FDC but most importantly to portray Muntu as a failure so that he is looked at as the only capable opposition leader,” he says, “Our preoccupation now is to ensure Muntu is on the ballot come 2021 irrespective of the party he represents.”
Muntu’s supporters are also alive to the possibility of Muntu losing the Party Presidency in November and that creates more worries about his political future.
“Second scenario; Muntu is beaten in November (which by the way is possible) and that will weaken his political standing. It will also be wrongly perceived if we try to pull out and form another force after being beaten democratically in an internal election,” says Seryazi.
If that happens, Wabyona says, Muntu’s political career will have ended.
“The result will be for cool-headed members to watch from the sides like Mushega, Ruzindana, Garuga and others because, let me ask you, since PAFO-Reform Agenda merger, which other credible leaders have we attracted apart from Munyagwa, Segirinya and the like?”
But party elder WanderaOgalo says the best bet for Muntu supporters would be if the Besigye camp leaves FDC instead because “Muntu will never agree to defect and form another party”.
“Muntu believes in organisation and he fought hard for PAFO to merge with Reform Agenda because he believes that if there are many groups fighting for something, they would be more effective if they came together and fought as a united front,” Ogalo says.
He explains that the Parliamentary Advocacy Forum (PAFO), which was formed by MPs opposed to Museveni’s handling of the so-called no-party Movement system, became the foundation of FDC because most of those that belonged to Reform Agenda founded by Besigye have since gone back to NRM.
“The few left are the ones giving Muntu trouble,” he said.
Despite the plots and counterplots, there are many within FDC who appear determined to keep a lid on the fiery divisions. Respected member Patrick Wakida, who is the executive director of the polling firm Research World International, dismisses any talk of a looming split within FDC. He insists the conflicts within the party are being blown out of proportion and do not threaten the party’s existence.
“FDC is now stronger than it was in 2011,” he said. “It is you people blowing what is going on out of proportion but what is happening is normal. What is happening is just an issue of individual interests and those are normal in any group.”
He acknowledges that the party has two camps but says that both camps are united by one goal of taking power with the difference being only on approach, one wanting to use pressure on the regime and the other preferring building party structures.
He adds, “The election will come and go and the FDC will not split. You people said the same thing in 2012 but did it break?”
“And split and go where?” he asks. Wakida says there have been enough lessons for anyone who might want to defect and form another party as those that have, like Uganda Federal Alliance and National Farmers party haven’t survived.
Former FDC stalwart Beti Kamya, who is now a minister in Museveni’s government, formed the Uganda Federal Alliance when she left FDC in 2008. Meanwhile the National Farmers Party was formed by current FDC Secretary General NandalaMafabi and his supporters after he lost in the Party Presidency race to Muntu in 2012.
This time round, Mafabi who remains Muntu’s main challenger for the PP position is not giving away any hints regarding whether he will contest against him or not. A source in the defiance camp says Mafabi might also tactically decide to stay as Secretary General and free himself to mobilise support for 2021 national presidency.
Under this scenario, the defiance camp led by Besigye will front former Kumi legislator, Patrick OboiAmuriat and will support him to defeat Muntu because, the source says, they find it hard to work with Muntu.
“Muntu is derailing us,” the source said, “he doesn’t support our activities and we want a PP with whom we can have a good working relationship in order not just to move forward but to move faster.”
The source cites the example of the People’s government that was launched after the 2016 general elections. He says it was endorsed by the party’s National Executive Committee but Muntu has refused to take part in it.
The people’s government is led by Besigye and has a cabinet and has been holding activities like offering food relief to hunger stricken areas and holding a campaign to sensitize citizens about land grabbing.
The defiance camp, according to the source will unanimously support one candidate against Muntu and are sure to defeat him especially since they expect Besigye to also openly support that candidate.
But party insiders say there is no one in the party who is popular enough to defeat Muntu other than Besigye. But Muntu’s supporters do not want to take chances. In any case their biggest concern is Muntu’s Presidential candidature in 2021 and not the party elections of November.