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COVER STORY: FDC faces break-up

(L-R) Nandala Mafabi, Mugisha Muntu and Kizza Besigye

Whatsapp war as Nandala quits Besigye camp against Muntu

A feud in FDC which has been raging on the various Whatsapp groups of the party members shows the party could be headed for major fallout.

In one of the most revealing exchanges, former party Secretary General Alice Alaso who is in the camp that supports party President Mugisha Muntu told the members that now that it was clear that their camp is stronger, they should tell Muntu to leave them alone and they force the defiance camp members of party strongman Kizza Besigye out of FDC.

“We should decide from this moment not to defend defiance for the sake,” Alaso said in one of the Whatsapp chats, “We cannot accept to be used by a strategy that is killing our party…I learnt a serious lesson from NEC yesterday, if we fight these guys, they will flee. We have the numbers in NEC we shall apply pressure on MM (MugishaMuntu) to leave us alone and those guys will flee like they fled yesterday.”

Alaso is a member of the so-called Project 525 group, which is for Muntu supporters. There is also FDC at heart, which is for the defiance camp of Besigye supporters and the FDC Leap Forward  whatsapp platform which has members from both camps.

Alaso was referring to events of March 01 in the FDC National Executive Committee (NEC) where Muntu stamped his authority on the party during appointment of party deputy secretaries.

According to sources, Muntu had postponed the issue since September last year when the substantive secretaries were elected.

The issue was first on the agenda of the NEC meeting of march 01. When it caused a lot of disagreements, a decision was taken to have the positions filled by voting and not by appointment as has been the norm. Muntu’s camp took more than 80% of the positions and this infuriated his opponents.

Party Mobiliser Ingrid Turinawe who is firmly in the Besigye camp wrote on r # FDC @ heart: “We tried so hard to have Hon Mwijukye as mobiliser Western, Hon Munyagwa as mobiliser Buganda, Hon Amuriat as Mobiliser Eastern. All of them were rejected! Hon Ariko is already a member of NEC by being in Parliament. He now occupies two positions of NEC. Senior influential members from the Eastern region like Hon Amuriat, Hon Wafula, Hon Kevina etc will remain redundant as Ariko serves two positions of NEC.”

“Even Mr. Bihande has been added as deputy mobiliser Western! All efforts to have Hon Mwijukye as deputy mobiliser Western fell on deaf ears. Even my protest by walking out of the meeting did not help. I pleaded. Kasese already has 7 members of NEC, Hon Mwijukye is the only MP from Ankole, he is popular and a good mobiliser. But party President ruled me out of order. He said he understands matters of Ankole more than me. So he appointed Bihande. But it became clear to all of us that he is interested in dividing our party by appointing only his campaign managers and not minding about senior members of the party who have influence over the public. That is how bad it has become.”

Some members of the Muntu faction are calling for disciplinary action against Ingrid Turinawe for promoting confusion in the party. Yokasi Bihande, the new deputy mobilization Western Uganda, is the husband of the current LOP Winnie Kiiza. Muntu’s opponents said it is unfair to appoint both husband and wife to NEC.

From the exchanges, it is clear that Muntu’s Project 525s are determined to push Besigye’s group out of FDC. It is also clear, however, that Besigye’s FDC at Heart members are also determined to push the Muntu group out.

While these tensions have haunted FDC for years, they appear to have got out of hand again as the party recently struggled to get a slot in the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).

The party had managed to hold a seemingly peaceful election to select representatives but trouble started emerging when Ingrid Turinawe, the party’s outspoken mobiliser and ardent supporter of Kizza Besigye, the party’s perennial presidential flag bearer, came second to Florence Ibi Ekwau who supports the current party President Gen. Mugisha Muntu.

The Besigye group, which is referred to as the “Defiance camp” owing to their defiance campaign against the government, felt that Turinawe was best suited for the slot and once she lost, forced the party to forward two names to parliament.

When Muntu attempted to recall her name in an attempt to improve the party’s chances after reaching a deal with other party leaders, which wanted FDC to field one candidate, he was publicly challenged by both Turinawe and the party Secretary General, Nathan Nandala Mafabi.

Yet while public debate has focused on how these internal fights cost the party an opportunity to get a slot in the EALA for the second term, insiders say the situation is much worse with different camps within the party threatening to push out the other or secede from it and form another.

To get to the bottom of what is going on The Independent has spoken to supporters from the different camps, and accessed party meetings’ minutes and WhatsApp exchanges between party leaders and supporters. All three camps are engaged in vitriolic attacks and threats to push out the opposing camp.


  1. Is the FDC disintegrating? Some have made the fore conclusion, that Yes, it is. It will be very unfortunate if that were to be true. Unfortunate in the sense that the said “break-up” is based on a brawl from a “Whatsapp” account but more important, that the FDC is the only credible alternative to the NRM. The FDC is the largest political party in the opposition, both in terms of Parliamentary representation and popular vote. The FDC poses an image of an all inclusive Uganda which focuses away from tribe or religious affiliations. The FDC does not suffer from historical nostalgia of “we fought” so, “we own this thing.” In recent history, the FDC eclipses any other political party, as the only party that has managed to have representation in Parliament from the five regions (North, East, Central and West) even when it is in opposition. In all modesty, the FDC has registered a stellar performance, given the prevailing political temptations. What then should we be reading in the struggles that seem to be tearing up the FDC? Fear. Unfounded fear (emphasis mine.)
    The glue that formed the FDC was that, NRM is a one man party or that it was owned by a “clique.” There have been growing concerns over the years that by Besigye not leaving the grandstand in FDC, he’s no less evil than NRM’s Museveni. Some have gone on to say that the reason why the FDC does not grow its voter base and go on to win Presidential elections, is due to the limitations of Dr. Besigye. They say that Dr. Besigye has radicalised the party, failed to set up structural systems and simply adapted to electioneering tactics. They accuse Besigye of being aggressive, intolerant and sometimes they accuse him of his fierce and scary face. They accuse him of so many things including having a hoarse voice. (Politics is an unforgiving field.) These are the issues (accusations) that seem to be rocking the FDC. But let me impugn and give “alternative facts” to these accusations. The FDC was formerly established in 2004. Dr. Kiiza Besigye was elected as its first President while in exile. On his return, in 2006, he contested for President garnering 38% of the total vote. In 2009, he contested for the Party President where he trounced General Muntu. Despite his overwhelming support within the party, he resigned in 2012, paving way for Mugisha Muntu. It should be noted, that Muntu’s converging issues during the 2009 party presidential campaigns were; to build the party from the grassroots and his ability to fundraise for the party on a grand scale. The 2012 party elections provided him the opportunity to showcase these abilities. But as fate would have it, at the 2015, delegates conference, Muntu’s actions were put to a litmus test. He contested as the party’s presidential nominee against Besigye. He lost. For three years of “fundraising and building party structures at the grassroots”, Mugisha Muntu couldn’t beat Kiiza Besigye.

    Fast forward into the 2016, general elections. Dr. Besigye was nominated on 4th November, 2015. The voting was slated to take place on 18th February, 2016. He had, at most, four months to campaign. Irrespective of the fact that voters in Dr. Besigye’s stronghold (Kampala and Wakiso) were disenfranchised, he garnered close to 3million votes- eating into Museveni’s supposed vote of close to 500,000 votes. The implicit meaning in this is that, if Gen. Muntu’s tactics couldn’t translate into victory even within the party, how then, will he be able to overturn things at the national level? If Besigye can obtain 3million votes within four months, how then, do we account FDC’s failures on his persona?

    My impression is that, some members within the FDC suffer from a “historical baggage” and “cowardice.” Some members are remnants of the old parties, particularly UPC and NRM and so they want to impress a connexion from UPC and NRM to FDC. They see Obote and Museveni’s political evolution in Besigye. But it should be clear to them, that as Obote and Museveni evolved so did their respective political parties. Besigye could be evolving but he is not evolving with the FDC. Besigye is not tempering with the party constitution, he’s not “ring fencing” any office. There is a shared view across the political divide, that FDC carries out fairly free, open and transparent elections. If the problem is with Besigye, why don’t these members redress their frustrations through the party structural mechanisms? The FDC members who are frustrated with Besigye need not more than 751 of the delegates vote to dash out any of Besigye’s hopes from the party. They can either choose to cap the number of times a candidate can run for a particular office, or, declare Besigye’s actions, deeds and intentions “anti-party.” If they feel they can’t contend with this prospect of convincing 751 people, then they are the problem and not Besigye. The problem
    facing the FDC is more psychological than real.

  2. Francis Kiggundu


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