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Ssemujju: Why FDC should Choose Mugisha Muntu

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The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) goes to polls this Friday (November 24) for the fourth time in 14 years to elect its leader.

With Kawempe South MP Mubarak Munyagwa out of the race, four candidates remain: Maj Gen Gregory Mugisha Muntu (current president), Patrick Oboi Amuriat, Malcom Mastiko and Moses Byamugisha. Gen Muntu and Amuriat are the frontrunners.

In the interest of fairness, let me declare right from the onset that as co-chairman of Muntu’s campaign team, I am going to be truthful but obviously biased in favour of my candidate.

I have never supported Muntu in any FDC internal elections largely because of his brand of politics and the fact that he hails from the same region as FDC founding president, Dr Kizza Besigye.

I am a strong believer in rotational politics. That is why I supported Nathan Nandala Mafabi in 2012 who offered me my aspirations.

Nandala was from Eastern Uganda and he practiced confrontational politics which, unfortunately, Gen Museveni has entrenched in our country.

To win an election, you must assemble some sort of militia to fight outright rigging and force the Electoral Commission to declare you victorious.

I was impressed with Nandala in 2011 when he put on a pair of shorts on election day and exchanged some kicks with UPDF soldiers deployed in his Budadiri constituency to steal his victory.

I must, however, confess that even when I campaigned and voted for Nandala, I remained a strong admirer of Gen Mugisha Muntu’s personality.

I have met very few people with such a rich profile who are as modest and genuine as Muntu. Unfortunately, it is this modesty and humility that some of our FDC people are selling as a weakness.

It is this modesty and humility that Muntu has deployed to manage the FDC in the last five years. Some of our colleagues, including those in senior positions, have menacingly squeezed and undermined the man, but he has remained steadfast.

FDC owes its unity and togetherness to this man. His patience has been stretched to the limit. With no privileges or salary paid, very few can brave the Najjanankumbi insults.

Yet each time he was confronted with such experience, he remained calm and asked the rest of us working with him to keep learning how to manage people and to build institutions.

His emphasis on building institutions through transparent processes as opposed to building personalities and relying on them will remain his biggest contribution to the FDC.

And that is the choice we will be making this Friday. Throughout these campaigns, I have asked FDC leaders to tell me why they continue drinking Coca Cola or Pepsi yet they don’t know their managers.

We don’t know who the managers of Airtel or MTN are yet we are addicted to their products. Building FDC into a brand with known values is what we should strive for as opposed to cult leaders. You don’t have to know Muntu for you to be a member of FDC. You must be attracted by what FDC stands for.

That is what I have told delegates throughout this campaign. I remember Hon Winnie Byanyima telling us in one of our meetings at Najjanankumbi that all we have as FDC is Besigye.

True, Besigye is a treasure to have, but he is human. We must use him to build a political party that will outlive him or any other person.

This is more important in a country like Uganda where those heading political institutions have turned them into personal enterprises.

In developed democracies, trust in politicians is increasingly being eroded because their behaviours are more or less the same. That is how America has ended up with Donald Trump.

In Uganda, and Africa in general, it is what we have been experiencing. I think there are fewer Ugandans who genuinely believe that we, the opposition, will make their lives better when we replace Museveni.

Yes, they want Museveni to go but it is also possible that they don’t trust us.

And for me, that is most painful. We cannot afford to be just an alternative. We must be a better alternative.

In an article at the beginning of our campaign, I said that some of our FDC leaders, given an opportunity, would be worse than Museveni. Predictably, they rolled me in the mud and accused me of being a mole.

One commentator went an extra mile and accused me of pocketing money from Henry Tumukunde to “destroy Besigye.” To him, Besigye is beyond criticism and attempting to do so is criminal.

Anyway, the campaigns have ended and on Friday the FDC will announce its leader. My appeal to all FDC delegates is to elect Gen Muntu so we continue benefiting from his experience.

The FDC cannot be built by an individual, but all of us. That is why our campaign slogan has been “Building the FDC Together.” And together we will: God willing!

The author is Kira Municipality MP and spokesperson of FDC.


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