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The meaning of Muntu’s defeat

Gen Mugisha Muntu campaigning on D-Day. 

How Besigye’s hold over FDC has undermined its pretence to be a vehicle for democracy

THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda | “Follow an idea from its birth to its triumph,” Bertrand de Jouvenel observed in his 1948 volume, On Power, “and it becomes clear that it came to power at the price of an astounding degradation of itself. The result is not reason which has found a guide but passion which has found a flag.”

The defeat of the noble Mugisha Muntu in the race for the presidency of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has put the last nail in the coffin of decent politics in that party. It marks the final triumph of Kizza Besigye’s brand of politics i.e. radical extremism as an organising philosophy.

Two ideas have been in contention inside FDC – one represented by the Muntu, the other by Besigye. Muntu believes that FDC should build the party as an institution based on a set of values, principles and policies around which members can be mobilised. These values must not only be practiced but be seen by seen to be practiced; and must distinguish FDC from NRM.

Besigye believes FDC should be a cult and build its politics around his messianic self-image. Rather than build organisational structures through which that party can function, Besigye believes FDC should stimulate passion around him as a hero. This governing philosophy seeks to use character instead of strategy and to build an individual instead of an institution.

Besigye’s governing philosophy won because it has the support of the most passionate base of the FDC. Muntu’s vision never had a chance even though it is supported by the most liberal and enlightened section of that party. The vast majority of the FDC supporters do not care about Muntu’s values and principles. All they care about is power. Muntu has been unable to appreciate the fact – that most people in FDC are tired of President Yoweri Museveni’s long rule and want him to go. Governance principles are for the naive.

This is where Besigye beats Muntu. Besigye understands that those opposed to Museveni are opposed to the president as a person, not his governing strategy of corruption and patronage. Given Uganda’s moral psychology, opposition activists want Besigye to give them goodies in the same way Museveni does for his supporters. They accuse those who speak anything positive about Museveni of having been paid precisely because that is how they understand power; that those who support it get paid.

Therefore, Muntu has always belonged to a wrong party. His ways have never been the ways of the FDC. There are many decent men and women in FDC. But for the most part they have been outwitted, out gunned and out maneuvered by the radical extremists around Besigye. In rejecting Muntu, the Besigye faction of radical extremists in FDC has rejected the idea that power should be pursued, not as an end in itself but as a means to an end – the end being the realisation of the virtues of tolerance of dissent, commitment to democratic principles, belief in institution building, and placing collective goals above personal ambition and greed.

We must not forget that like NRM, the FDC was born in a moment of great hope. Many of its founding leaders were holding influential and comfortable positions in government as ministers, ambassadors and other high offices. They sacrificed their comfort in pursuit of these high ideals. They thought they were leaving NRM because it had increasingly come to be based on the messianic role of Museveni whose authority could not be questioned.

11 comments

  1. Unfortunately, the moderates in African politics never see the light of the day. And they are the most affected by the mere change of”GUARDS” as the extremists vanish and replaced by their counterparts. BUT I also believe that a constant “mere change of guards” cools the the tempers.

  2. WE BLACKS ARE A PEOPLE WHO NEVER DEVELOPED INTELLECTUALLY AS FOR EXAMPLE THE WHITE RACE,TO PUT IT WELL WE ARE IN A SENSE SUBHUMAN,WHAT MATTERS THROUGH OUT FOR THE BLACK RACE IS HOW MUCH BRUTE FORCE YOU CAN EXERCISE TO DEFEAT YOUR OPPONENT,SO CONCEPTS LIKE DEMOCRACY,DEBATES ETC WHICH REQUIRES THE EXERCISE OF THE MIND TO GET YOUR POINT OF VIEW ACROSS IS QUITE ALIEN TO US,SHOW ME ANY DEMOCRACY IN SUB SAHARAN AFRICA OR GO TO THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE COUNTRIES WHERE BLACKS ARE DOMINATE Eg HAITI AND TELL ME IF DEMOCRACY HAS THRIVED THERE.SO IN SUMMARY WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT WE ARE GENETICALLY,THE MUNTUS AND MWENDAS OF AFRICA WILL FOREVER REMAIN PAPER OR LAP TOP TIGERS AND WILL FOREVER INFLUENCE NOTHING.

    • We blacks are not alone Jeremiah, there are other “sub humans”. Mention just one country in the Arab world where democracy has thrived……………………

    • Jerry, do you democracy means a choice of the mob? Do you know the mob? How about an uncivilised mob? Imagine having to live by a decision made by such people. And even where the ‘correct’ choice has accidentally been made, the choice has to abide by the wishes of the mob or risk being voted out by the mob. It is a tough world.A central ‘almighty’government chose by a larger mob is requested to make provision of services beyond its qualification. The only government that can truthfully have feeling towards its people is a federo. Because in a federo, the people have another more bonding relationship than fear of law….. which law isn’t even remotely related to justice at times. You think in a federo you can kill such as a Joan Kagezi and matters just keep quiet and forgotten? “As you made your bed so you must lie on it” Democracy is a failed project as a form of governance and should be done away with at earliest opportunity…. It is only good to those who feast on others’ sweat.

  3. Lessons from Muntu’s defeat;
    1.Unlike other nations were history is treasured;Ugandans are not loyal to their leaders they easily move on for example who ever talks about the Obote,Kiwanuka or Muteesa family?
    2. FDC is only visible when there are riots they have made alot of noise in that one one pays attention to what goes on in their party anymore.
    3.FDC is full of redundant,hungry and rejected people of society thats why its management is complex.
    4. FDC lacks sense of direction coz they have no manifesto and structures in place they fear too admit that M7 has set a good template for ug.
    5. They are so petty they accused their current president of not speaking and understanding Luganda its dangerous to speak a language one does not understand there is a time i wanted to buy maize i requested the lady selling the maize to give kasolo instead of kasoli.
    6.Back to the presidential age limit debate its good that M7 has defended the lifting of the age limit. old men have alot of experience and wisdom Chinua Achebe,late Prof.Ali Mazuluuli were old but still lectured in Universities in USA.
    7.Most senior UN jobs require people of integrity; How did Kuteesa get the UN job without the approval of Parliament?What was he dying for?did he buy his way there?The man is riddled with scandals even if he did not take the bribe its difficult for mankind to believe him.

  4. As usual Mwenada is constantly contradicting himself. On one hand he is as usual dismissive of good governance and political morality and yet later on he lauds Muntu and his fellow defectors from NRM for standing for the political ideals, which incidentally include political morality and good governance. You have to make up your mind about which side you stand on. Either you are for good governance and political morality or you are not. You cannot have it both ways. But for what is worth it is breakthrough for the East which has never led any natioal political party (small or big) since independence. Mafabi was not successful but thsi time around Amuriat has made history. The criticism against Muntu is that for five years nothing came of his theoretical structures. Politics is not political science. It is a practical art form.

  5. ejakait engoraton

    TO the best of my knowledge, the sun will rise from the EAST and set in the WEST.

    MUNTU is one character who is greatly overrated and who is not able to read the current political situation and apply the right solution, or he was intent of running the FDC party into the ground.
    I gave the example of JOSE and WENGER , the former being very tactical and tailors his team and style of play according to his opponent.JOSE has almost beaten WENGER all the time they have met, but last season, in a match that had no relevance , and knowing that his sights were set on the Champions league , and that his only route thereof was to WIN the EUROPA cup, he fielded a weaker team against ARSENAL in order to spare his players who were soon playing in the EUROPA finals which he eventually won.(I am an ARSENAL fan).

    IN today’s Uganda politics, against M 7 and the NRM, where the state is welded to the NRM , which is M 7, there is no way you can build OVERT structures. Every single turn and even breath of air you take is watched by a DISO, Village ISO, the covert boda boda, the RDC and 2 out of every 3 people who are directly or indirectly state operatives.

    Even on this forum you have the likes of WINNIE.

  6. ejakait engoraton

    PEOPLE have created this false narrative about MUNTU.

    First and foremost, MUNTU has no loyalty.

    HE was born into a UPC family, his father going on to be very close to OBOTE, and therefore in our own AFRICAN culture, just like M 7 qualifies to be a son to the late BYANYIMA, Muntu was a son to OBOTE.

    MUNTU had every opportunity to have audience with OBOTE and ask him what was going on, instead he went to the bush to join people he considered “his own”.

    M 7 believes in conquest and humiliation. HE hates the ANKOLE royal family, but he saw it as a conquest to have a child with BARIGYES sister, ROSE MARY, just like he had a child with GERTRUDE NJUBA. He sees it as a conquest to have BEN KIWANUKAS son as the founder of DP, to be in the NRM, just like he sees it as a conquest for his son to marry the daughter of the man who defeated him in the 1980 elections. MUNTU at the time was the biggest conquest of all the people who had gone to the bush.

    ALL the favors and the promotions were not because he was an exceptional soldier, it was just to spite OBOTE.

    ALL the so called track record of MUNTU at the head of the army are just talk. Some of the most horrible things done by the army were under his watch, like the MUKURA massacres.

    HAVING been treated the way he was by M 7, here he is again claiming to be fighting M 7, and while everybody else, including the man who probably saved M 7s life are being detained and beaten almost to death, no one ever touches MUNTU.

  7. You can never be “a nalongo” and a virgin at the same time, by the time Jeremiah and some other friends submit it that it’s genetical to be unruly, undirectioned and very undemocratic. Nooo…. it is not to do with colour or corridor of residence that determines the intelect of politicians. But many of them become nalongo(s) on their political journey and expect to tell us they are virgins after attaining offices. Please the FDC is politically pregnant but the results are very simple and known to us all its either an abortion or a miscarriage am certain. Please don’t make our colour and continent a crime” Being black and being white or red has got its impact on melanin but not politics, all the shenanigans chaining us are a results of; economic prostitution of our political virgins who end up deliverying (unwanted twins) at an introduction ceremony.

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