“In that case then, isn’t it better for the two groups to pursue this objective separately instead of wasting time infighting and diverting the resources from the main objective?” he says.
Political analyst Frederick GoloobaMutebi agrees.
“Leaving a party they no longer want to associate with allows them to establish what they think will be a better party,” he told the Independent. “We could end up with two-better organized and coherent parties that are better able to contest the NRM’s hegemony.”
But he cautioned Muntu’s next move depends on his short, medium, and long-term ambitions. He says a slow start and building the party slowly, first; to play a role in public debates and influence policy and decision making as this would help establish it in the minds and thinking of the general public, which in the long term may help it win power.
“If the idea is to reach for power in the short or even medium term; that would be rather fanciful,” he said and cited the way all party leaders in Uganda scramble to stand for president, however insignificant their so-called parties are. “It is telling of how they are driven primarily by their desire to become president, not to build viable rival organisations to the NRM.”
The planned departure of Muntu and his group first became eminent when Amuriat defeated him in November last year.
Earlier, although some of his supporters had wanted Muntu to run for presidential candidate in 2016; even after he was defeated by perennial FDC flag-bearer KizzaBesigye in the party primaries, he shunted them aside and threw his full weight behind Besigye’s candidature, like he had done thrice before that.
It was rather surprising for the group that Besigye, after all that did not support Muntu in the Nov. 2017 party Presidential race. He instead, with his defiance camp brought Amuriat and saw to it that he defeated Muntu. Amuriat’s victory, insiders say, marked a new chapter in the politics of FDC.
Immediately after the November 2017 elections, MuniniMulera, who has served FDC for the last 13 years in various capacities wrote that: “It is my informed and confident opinion that the contest was between the Besigye and Muntu visions for the party”.
Mulera wrote in Daily Monitor: “Besigye believes in militant and physical defiance to the dictatorship. This single strategy was very well articulated by Amuriat during his speech at the conference.
On the other hand, Mulera added, Muntu believes that building a well-organised party, whose fortunes are not tied to an individual, but are founded on very strong institutions, is the critical step in the struggle for change in Uganda.
It became apparent that the two tendencies—the defiance and organisation—could no longer tolerate each other.
Many expected Muntu to quit the party in a fit of disappointment and anger. He did not.
Insiders say vintage reflective Muntu could not just leave in a huff—he instead launched a trek across the country in what he described as consultations. But he also maintained a humble foothold in the party, schmoozing, putting up appearances and mumbling the right noises.
Observers said he was testing the level of countrywide support which his defeat by Amuriat meant he could no longer possibly do as party flag-bearer in the next national president election in 2021.
Recently, in another article in the Daily Monitor, Mulera announced his resignation from the party noting that with the two tendencies in FDC at war and with no room in him for the defiance only strategy, he had reached a dead end in the FDC. He quit.
But if Muntu and group were still convincing supporters; especially in parliament, that leaving FDC was the only guarantor of their future in politics, on Aug.3, Amuriat made that job much easier when he fired from parliamentary leadership those opposed to him and replaced them with his loyalists.
But this is not the first time Muntu loyalists are pushing him to stand. He has let them down in the past. Ahead of the 2016 elections, they held multiple meetings and strategised on how to ensure Muntu’s victory against Museveni.
An official who was at the centre of these meetings told The Independent that at the time, they were betting on the fact that Muntu appealed to the moderates in both the ruling party and the opposition who are fatigued by the politics of extremism by both Museveni and Museveni.
“Muntu has always appealed to the moderates and the divisions we see in the NRM augur well for him,” the official noted, “he has many loyal supporters in FDC and can easily mobilise those alienated by the Besigye camp.”