By Joan Akello
Muntu: We have resolved internal conflicts, ready to roll-out
Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu, President Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) talked to The Independent’s Joan Akello about the party’s plan to build internal cohesion and its road map to the national elections in 2016.
What is happening in FDC following controversial reports from the recent National Council meeting in Luweero?
We had a successful National Council and this excites me because the last one we had immediately after Nambole (party presidential elections in 2012), there was quite a lot of anxiety within and outside the party. History in this country has shown that when there is competition at the top of a political party, and if conflict arises from that it has been very difficult for that party to recover from that.
I knew that and that is why we focused on internal party management and put in place transparent processes and managing the issues which were at the centre of the conflict. So for one and half years we spent a lot of time in doing that and by the time we went to Luweero, I had a feel that we had succeeded but I had not seen it myself. So NC in Luweero simply demonstrated that we had succeeded in resolving Namboole and left it behind.
How was the attendance?
We had 220 delegates, 95 chairpersons from 112 districts who showed up. Other who did not come delegated or gave reasons other than two chairpersons for Mbale and Sironko. Fortunately we have a process and sent a team to find out from them if they are still members or no longer members of FDC. If they are still members we would like to discuss with them and find out what their grievances are so that we resolve them. If they have chosen to form another party, we have no problem with that, we would still love to work with them if they are still interested in all of us following the common objective which is ousting of the dictatorship. We will work side by side to ensure that we oust the regime and then each party can build itself.
Two leaders have been in media over unresolved issues at NC, what are you doing since they also announced that they have left party leadership?
The only issue that came up was that the Treasurer General (TG) and Deputy Treasurer General (DTG) put it in writing that they were resigning, retiring from their jobs. The unfortunate thing is that it came in the NC. Ordinarily I would have hoped that the TG and DTG should have written to me as the party president and we would have put it before management, and also before NEC (National Executive Committee) and then we would have reported to NC. Nevertheless, I still have no problem. NC accepted their resignation/ retirement, gave the mandate to the party leader in consultation with the management and NEC to appoint acting TG and DTG till the new NEC is in place next year.
What is the NEC Agenda?
The NEC is sitting basically to approve the agenda of the National Delegates Conference (NDC) that will take place in early December. NDC is supposed to look at amendments in the constitution that will enable us build structures next year right from office holders at NEC level to the grassroots at the village level. So whatever anxieties there have been amongst our party leaders and party supporters that we need to have this process done; Luweero was the beginning of that. We hope that those who have been anxious would work with all of us so that we implement that.
Where is FDC going?
We are moving; we are going to fulfill the objectives we have set for ourselves and also planning to rebrand ourselves as a party. We want to go out there and mobilise people, resuscitate hope within the population, build trust in the population. There are not many parties that have survived internal conflict. You can see the ruling party (National Resistance Movement) is in a state of disintegration. In fact they should ask us and we shall give them free consultancy on how to manage internal contradictions. We managed them well in a fair, open, transparent, and even-handed manner and we have rebuilt cohesion. In National Council you can see that the leadership is now focused on building strength in the party.
What do you say to FDC members who do not support you?
You do not have to support the party leader for you to be an ardent supporter of a party. As long as you focus on strengthening the party, in the next round you can go behind any leader other than the one you do not support to take over. So when you succeed in having another leader come in, they find a strong party. There is confusion about that in a number of political actors in this country and I also see this in FDC; it is like if you do not like the party leader you must undermine the party. If you fall in that category you are a danger not only to the party but also to the country. Our focus as FDC is to build institutions, ensure we build internal systems, establish value systems within the party so that eventually when we take power, we govern or lead the party based on what we have in the party; organisational culture, value systems we believe in, systems of transparency, fairness, and how to manage internal contradictions.
What is your strategy?
I have refused to be diverted by voices from all corners shouting for me to go out and do one, two, three, and four. I know what it means to build cohesion in an organisation. I know the strength it brings into an organisation that is why I have concentrated on that. I want that when we eventually roll out and start to build numbers – because building numbers is the biggest concern of the people. To sustain the support you get, you must build a strong base. The Movement has been ruling for 30 years but why are they collapsing? Look at all the parties that took over after Independence, how many are still surviving. They are few. Why? Some of them have been in power for 40 years but why do they collapse? It is the foundation. FDC is a party of eight years, I cannot try to build support unless we have dealt with the internal environment; it is very important. Fortunately I have spent a lot of time- two years on it and I am satisfied.
But some people say you have killed FDC!
I know that people are saying Muntu has gone into hiding or that I have killed the party but they are going to see when we roll out. I cannot allow myself to be diverted or panicked by whatever everybody has to say; I stick to a plan. I know I am doing the right thing. It is evidence and time which is going to show. If what I have been doing is right or correct then evidence is going to come up. If what I have been doing is not correct that is also going to show. But I am satisfied that this roll out that we started in October is going to build momentum for us as a party. I have no doubt about that in my mind.