By Edgar Tushabe Muhairwe
Leaders tell youth that party needs both activism and party building
What is the relationship between political party activism and party building? Should there be the perceived conflict between the two?
Those were some of the questions tackled on March 25 during the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Youth League workshop held at the party headquarters in Najjanankumbi, in Kampala. The workshop was held under the theme: “Party Building in Relation to Activism” and was party of the party’s search of a way forward ahead of 2016.
In FDC, the `party building’ school of thought is most espoused by the people that believe in the management style of the current president, Gen. Mugisha Muntu. The activism camp is seen to be followers of the style of the party former president, Col. Kizza Besigye.
The party youth organised the workshop because, they say, the fictionalisation; between party builders and activists, is costing the party.
“There was perceived conflict between the two groups and we thought this was not good for our progress. It had already frustrated us anyway,” says Zerida Kakayi, the General Secretary of the Youth League said.
The event was attended by; among others, Alice Alaso, the secretary general of the party and Prof.Ogenga Latigo, the former leader of opposition in parliament.
Latigo told the youth that FDC as a party was built on the foundation of activism.
“The reform agenda, the Parliamentary Advocacy Forum (PAFO) and the National Democracy Front (NDF) were all groups that were activist in nature,” Latigo said.
He said, therefore, to expect the FDC to live without activism was to send it to death. He however on the other hand said there is no party that can succeed without grassroots structures. Even after the electoral reforms are granted, the party would not win without structures.
Kizza Besigye, on his part reiterated the need for an activist party, saying that activism and opposition politics are mutually inclusive. To him, even buying party cards and speaking on talk shows is activism. He discouraged those that use a pejorative tongue when describing activism. However, he too was fast to recognise the purpose of organisation in activism, blaming the lack of it for the failure of Walk-to-Work campaign that he held in 2011.
“I would be walking from Kasangati, with mammoth crowds but nobody at Najjanankumbi would know that am walking to work. They would only find out after a while that your people have been arrested,” he said. He said that kind of uncoordinated organisation cannot sustain a struggle against any government.
“For any group to take power there must be coordinated effort to raise funds, medical officers, lawyers, sureties, and other necessities to facilitate its success,” Besigye said.
Muntu, who closed the workshop, reiterated the need to work together. He insisted that there is no conflict between activism and party building and urged the youths not to be disoriented with the factions that want to propagate confusion in the party.
He said those who accuse him of not supporting activism and bolstering the street efforts of his predecessor were misreading events. The retired Major General succinctly reminded them of his participation in Walk-to Work.
“How can one say Muntu does not support the activists in the party when I personally participated in Walk-to-Work?” he said.
All the senior leaders present including Alice Alaso urged the youth to abandon the pettiness and embark on fighting for change in whatever capacity they can. They cautioned them against loosing focus of their goals.
Youth League General Secretary Kakayi said he was very pleased with the “progress” the party was making. She said the gesture in Muntu and Besigye coming together on the relation between activism and party building was very positive and showed that FDC was not at all fractured along alliances to specific leaders as the public has been led to believe.
“There are people out there who want to portray FDC as a party of confusion and factions. They are going to be embarrassed since Dr. Besigye and Gen. Muntu have come out clearly on these issues themselves. At least there is some guidance now.”