Why Bobi Wine’s new party will find it even more difficult to defeat Museveni in 2021 compared to FDC in 2006
| THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | This week, the National Unity Platform of Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine launched itself with two defections of NRM MPs and two other independent legislators. It was presented as a big event. Yet for all the hype, and compared to the birth of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) in 2005, NUP seems to me to be a stillbirth. The MPs from NRM are nonentities whose names no one I have met can remember. Only Latif Sebagala from DP has some gravitas. In 2005 FDC was formed with many MPs, elected local government leaders and other leading figures on Uganda’s political scene from across the entire country.
From Western it had Kizza Besigye, John Kazoora (MP), Augustine Ruzindana (MP), Miria Matembe (MP), Jack Sabiti, James Garuga Musinguzi, Amanya Mushega, Eriya Kategaya, Winnie Byanyima, John Butime, Mugisha Muntu, Mathew Rukikaire, Ingrid Turinawe (district speaker Rukungiri), Yona Kanyomozi, Richard Kaijuka, Winnie Babihuga (MP), Athanatius Rutaro (LCV chairman Rukungiri), Dr Runumu (LCV chairman Kabale), Odo Tayeebwa (speaker Bushenyi later FDC MP), Makuru, mayor Rukungiri, Pius Rwemurana (mayor Kabale), Asaba Ruyonga (mayor FP).
From Eastern there was Abdul Katuntu (MP), Salam Musumba (MP), Frank Nabwiso (MP), Nandala Mafabi (MP), Wafula Oguttu, Geoffrey Ekanya (MP), Emmanuel Dombo (later switched to NRM), Patrick Amuriat (MP), Wandera Ogalo (MP), Jack Wamanga (MP), Francis Epetite (MP).
From Northern region there were MPs Reagan Okumu, Morris Ogenga Latigo,Kasiano Wadri, Odongo Otto, Christine Abiya, Elija Okupa, Alice Alaso, Akello Franka, Anita Among, Florence Ibbi, David Pulkol, Moses Adome, Beatrice Anywar and many other local government leaders, businessmen, prominent intellectuals etc.
In Central region there was, Beti Kamya, Sulleiman Kigundu, Sam Njuba, Ibrahim Kasozi, Senteza Kajubi, Prof Kanyerezi, Prince Kimera MP, Joyce Subugwawo (current major of Rubaga). There were people like Cecelia Ogwal, Ben Wacha and Okullo Epak who supported Besigye for presidential candidate. This list is by no means exhaustive but it gives a good picture of how prominent and widely spread FDC began. These people had experience and skills of running elections and enjoyed widespread respect in the country and the communities from which they came.
Thus by the time Besigye returned from exile, there were branches of FDC across the entire country in almost every district! The party was also able to field serious candidates for parliament and LC because of the strength of its leaders even though some retreated to NRM. The party’s strength was built on the back of these MPs, LC councillors and powerful political figures. This is especially important in a country where political parties lack organisation depth. NUP is born without this strategic advantage.
Without prominent leaders, to be strong a party in a peasant society like Uganda needs to ally with institutions of state (as NRM has done), church (as UPC and DP had done historically), or ethnic group (as KY had done in the 1960s) to penetrate society. NUP has strong emotional support, great brand appeal but has no organisational infrastructure. This means they cannot easily convert their brand appeal into votes.