FARUK KIRUNDA: President Museveni’s name shouldn’t be used to explain away FDC’s weakness

Are things falling apart in the FDC party? On at least two occasions, I have predicted that FDC’s attitude towards other political players would, sooner rather than later, be the death of the party. Not that I wish it upon one of the notable political parties benefiting from the free, democratic dispensation guaranteed by President Yoweri Museveni’s government but some signs cannot be ignored.

One sign that gave me a hint about the course FDC was likely to take was its treatment of the IPOD arrangement; FDC refuses to participate in that forum’s activities, together with NUP, they reason that they cannot sit and discuss with Museveni and other leaders they despise. I wrote and warned that that attitude was in bad faith. And while the two parties boycott IPOD activities, they do not boycott the funding that comes from their belonging there. That alone should tell you that their politics is based on convenience rather than principles or ideas for the benefit of the general public.

Consequently, it’s of no surprise that FDC is engulfed in a storm over money! People whose mission is dim and uncertain tend to get diverted easily. Nevertheless, it’s surprising how severe the fallout is. If not for too much hatred and fear of Museveni, these people have little respect for one another. It will remain fractured if the party doesn’t split right down the middle. At the very least, FDC will not be looked at the same way by admirers.

Aside from the “issues” that have caused the public exchanges, how they are being addressed and the heavy language the different camps are employing against each other reveals a party which doesn’t do as it preaches-where is the tolerance, where is the right to free speech, where is accountability, where democracy in play? FDC is not known to favour dialogue, judging from its stance on IPOD, so we need not mention that. Above all, what’s all the panic for and dragging President Museveni into these internal matters of the party?

Dr Kizza Besigye, Hon. Ssemujju Ibrahim, Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and others are one hand, accusing the camp of Hon. Nandala Mafabi, Hon. Eng. Amuriat Oboi and others of receiving funding from NRM and President Museveni during the 2021 elections and, maybe, prior. The Amuriat camp has denied but declined to divulge the source of the funds but saying they were from “anonymous sources” they are not at liberty to reveal.

Intra-party processes have failed to mediate the impasse, thus it’s exploding into the public arena. For a party that is always finding fault with others, the public had to receive the development with a lot of amusement. There must be a lot of jubilation at Kavule and Kamwokya!

That aside, what needs to be clearly put on record is that President Museveni has no reason to fund the opposition. He commands the greatest popular support in the land by NRM’s superstructures and presence among the people. His name is solely hauled into arguments to justify the weakness of the opposition and failure to make inroads after years of fighting and maligning the Ugandan leader. It’s one form of accountability to their members after misleading them “a thousand and one” times that Museveni is finished, only for him to defeat them hands down. In short, Museveni is their survival card even among their members without whom they would lose relevance or any justification for their failure to assume power.

Another thing is that these people have benefitted a lot under the NRM Government in many ways. They live affluent lives but under a regime they claim has impoverished everyone. In the heat of anger, they have exposed their comfortable status and this is not surprising because some are elected leaders paid by the NRM Government and some are indeed cutting deals using their presence in the political arena, including receiving donations from foreign sources which should as well be investigated and established. Was this money, said to be in billions, transacted legally? What if the funders have a connection to some of the groups causing problems in security circles?

Instead of using Museveni’s name to explain their weaknesses, they should always accept that politics is a game of numbers, where the fittest gains an advantage. And since they have failed to defeat him, they should join him!

FDC slipped from being the leading opposition party following the advent of NUP because of dictatorial tendencies that saw the likes of Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu departs to find some breathing space. But it seems no lessons were learnt from that. It is also proven that attacking President Museveni or making allegations does not win political capital because Ugandans long moved on from politics of exciting and inciting them; they want ideas that take them to the next level, and they want to hear alternative policies.

FDC may have had a chance when multipart had just been reinstated but after over a decade of hoodwinking Ugandans and with nothing new to offer, we can only expect more implosion. President Museveni need not bankroll anything because it’s a natural process bound to happen and he can only be a beneficiary.

The author is the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary

Contact: faruk.kirunda@statehouse.go.ug


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