By Mugumya Amooti
The opposition party’s spirit, character and practices have set an extemporary precedent in Ugandan politics
Following the Nov. 22 successful and peaceful Delegates Conference, during which they elected a new party president, Uganda’s leading opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) deserves a warm hug.
Other than electing of Party President, the spirit, character and practices of FDC have so far set an extemporary precedent in Ugandan politics.
The pre-condition of a three months countrywide campaign for all those vying for party presidency and a Public Debate among presidential hopefuls are positive practices towards publicising the party and offering the nation an opportunity to comprehensively assess the candidates. With these two exercises, there is no doubt that whoever successfully sails through this gruesome screen is a tested person.
The spirit of conceding defeat by the electoral losers is also a wide stride in the right direction towards ideal democratic principles. The recent FDC show is a premier show, not only in Uganda but in East Africa. The party as a whole deserves a pat. All the three competitors in the recent party presidential race should be crowned with a garland of flowers. We congratulate them all.
More specifically, Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu should be lauded as the first Ugandan to honourably concede defeat and championing the spirit of party internal democracy. He lost to Dr Kizza Besigye twice, as a party President in 2009 and flag bearer in 2010 respectively. He, however, devotedly campaigned for him in the 2011 national presidential race. This political maturity and personal integrity is very rare on Ugandan political scene.
In the NRM, the idea of anyone else other than President Yoweri Museveni leading the party would be sacrilegious, whereas whoever loses his bid as a party flag-bearer in either UPC or DP defects from the party!
Therefore, Leader of Opposition, Nandala Mafabi and Shadow Minister of Finance Geoffrey Ekanya should be lauded for conceding defeat and congratulating Gen Muntu. They etched their names in the annals of credible politicians.
So far, FDC is treading a right path thereby heading for better times. The party should only focus on further unity with a goal of ultimate victory in the 2016 general elections. And there are glaring signals of a bloody-nose knockout to the NRM.
The pattern of scores in major by-elections this year clearly manifests an upward trend in favour of the opposition. The FDC has outwitted the NRM by over 75% in spite of the latter’s rigging mechanisms. The most recent glorious victory being that of Salaam Musumba in Kamuli district where has is now the LC V Chairperson. These are living testimonies that with internal democracy and determination, the FDC can water-down the NRM’s money, teargas and bullets.
As of today, the party ought to work towards assuring Ugandans of a better, corruption- free leadership, once in power. They should amplify their readiness to reinstate presidential term limits. Likewise they have to desist from the belief in an individual as the Alpha and Omega for political survival. Thus, whoever could be behind the whispers about returning Dr Besigye as our flag-bearer in 2016 is also pro-life-presidency.
Dr Besigye himself should not accept to embarrass himself and FDC again. Thrice rigged out, twice outmaneuvered in court, there is no miracle by which he can steer any political party to State Power. Ugandans perceive him as perennial loser now. On his third shot at Presidency, Dr Besigye declined from 37.8% in 2006 to 26% in 2011. He would be wiser backing Gen Muntu in 2016.
With Gen Muntu’s personality, steadfastness, appealing approaches and successive victories amidst intricate intrigues, there is a beam of hope if the opposition parties rallied behind in 2016. He has enough charisma and charm to lure majority of Ugandans across the political divide.
Mugumya Amooti is a research Fellow with Building Global Democracy, a CSO based in New Delhi, India.