According to Lubega, their next move is to sell this plan to colleagues in other opposition parties. Lubega says under the approach, the opposition will have to next year conduct primary elections where whoever wants to stand for presidency in the general election will be asked to stand and then voters make a choice by standing behind the candidate of their choice.
“We can’t afford an expensive primary but if we agree, whoever emerges victorious will be the one to stand and defeat the dictator (Museveni),” he said.
He says they have learnt from previous experience with coalitions that most of the decisions failed because they were made in boardrooms and did not involve voters and the grassroots supporters.
“That’s why the likes of Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye could afford to disagree with the TDA – The Democratic Alliance chosen candidate in 2016,” he says, “all coalitions we have had before haven’t been realistic.”
He reasons that even if they don’t defeat the NRM at the top, they will be able to get more slots at parliament and at the local government level.
Currently, of the 459 MPs in parliament, only 60 slots belong to the opposition combined, smaller than independents who are the second biggest group at 67. The rest belong to the NRM. Some 91 slots were just gifted away by the opposition to the NRM as they didn’t front any candidates in those constituencies.
Zachary Olum; a DP historical and former member of the National Resistance Council believes a coalition can work well for the opposition. But, he insists, there must be “good will”.
“Those involved should put aside their selfish interests,” he says, “In TDA, it was an issue of egos where all the candidates wanted to be leaders.”
“I was more of an observer in that alliance. I told them disagreements should be for advancement not to stifle,” he says.
For the One to One approach to work, he says, leaders of the different political organisations need to harmonise their policies and agree on what they need to achieve in an election since they already know the country is in a crisis and yet they are faced with a very powerful ruling party.
For him, even if the president remains but the opposition gets more representation in parliament, it would help persuade government to pay attention to the needs of the people.
Mabikke has been in many coalitions and tested all ideas. In 2011 he threw his weight behind Col. Kizza Besigye but crossed to John Patrick Amama Mbabazi in 2016 where he was the spokesperson for their GO- Forward pressure group. How he handles his return to DP will show what lessons he has learned.