But how does moderation fit between populism, defiance of Museveni, Besigye?
Kampala, Uganda | IAN KATUSIIME | In the middle of the excitement and activity leading to the launch of the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT); a new party which he leads, Maj. Gen. Gregory Mugisha Muntuyera aka Mugisha Muntu managed to appear calm and unhurried.
Currently operating out of a small office in Bukoto, a Kampala City suburb; Muntu spoke about 2021 elections, which already have other politicians running around in a mad rush, as if they were in a very distant future.
At 61 years old, Muntu appears almost debonair in designer suit, well matched tie, and well-trimmed jet black hair. But he retains an erect soldier carriage and focused gaze and toughness that his boyish good looks cannot hide.
He says the Alliance for National Transformation party (also called The Alliance) plans to field candidates in the 2021 elections but first it must recruit members, establish grassroots offices, elect an interim leadership, and hold a delegates conference.
What about you, Muntu; will you run for president in 2021?
Where most leaders of political organisations often put running for president first, Muntu reacts to the question as if it is at the bottom of a very long list of more important things he has to consider. Appearing to place his priority away from gunning for the presidency sets Muntu apart from most Ugandan politicians, including President Yoweri Museveni.
Since he has desperately clung to power for 30-years using a mixture of strong-man tactics and populist politics, Museveni has conditioned most Ugandans to expect opposition politicians to pursue power with equal fanaticism. Muntu’s self-control is unexpected.
And it excites long-term strategists like Zachary Olum, a retired professor of political science.
Olum told The Independent; that there is a misconception about starting a party and gunning for power immediately.
“People think that once you start a party then your immediate goal is to get power. Parties are about shaping public opinion, moderating people in government. They perform better at other things,” Olum said when asked about Muntu’s approach.
Olum agrees with Muntu about a political party being akin to a vehicle that is supposed to be properly prepared before hitting the road. In Muntu’s politics, that means first putting party systems in place before you think of running.
Muntu would agree with something else that Olum said; that “a party is a conscience of people who think alike and a moderating factor”.
Olum, a member of the Democratic Party (DP) says his party has not been in power for more than 50 years but it has played a key role in constitutional development and the rule of law.
“Muntu’s party can go on to be a model of democracy in Uganda.”
Frank Rusa, the Executive Secretary of the Inter Party Organisation on Dialogue, a forum funded by the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy that brings together parties in parliament also welcomed the entry of The Alliance of Muntu.
“I think it is an interesting scenario. It will bring a new flavor to our politics. He seems to be pushing for a moderating line,” Rusa told The Independent about Muntu.
“He comes in with a sobering tone which will improve the way politics is practiced,” he added.