Nominations for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party presidential candidates have kicked off today, formally drawing the battle lines in a contest that has drawn about six contenders for the leading opposition party’s top job.
The current party president, Maj Gen (rtd) Mugisha Muntu, is expected to be nominated today as he seeks to retain a position he has held for the last four years, after the controversial 2013 election in which he beat current party secretary general Nathan Nandala-Mafabi.
Muntu, who replaced founder president Dr Kizza Besigye, is being challenged this time round by five other aspirants. They are former Kumi MP Patrick Amuriat Oboi, Kawempe South MP Mubarak Munyagwa, Moses Byamugisha, Dan Malcolm Matsiko and Moses Lukubira.
So far 2 candidates have been nominated to fight for the top set in FDC after fulfilling all the requirements including the million nonrefundable nomination fee and among these include Dan Malcom Masiko and Byamugisha Moses.
After being nominated Malcom said that one of his targets is to lobby for the party in order to have enough funds that can help them think out side the box as they tour all areas trying to strengthen they party structures.
Malcom said that FDC is only performing well in urban Centre due to leader who are not practically performing but good in narrating stories therefore it’s high time for them to change their thinking to a wider range.
The race consists of 6 candidates who picked nomination forms including Mugisha Muntu, Mubarakah Munyagwa, Byamugisha Moses, Lukubira Bakuba, Patrick Amuriat Oboi and Dan Malcom Masiko.
Before the day close, more two candidates are expected including Mugisha Muntu and Lukubira Bakuba.
The National Delegate conference is scheduled 17 novermber this year to have their new party president.
According to Hussein Lubega, a member of the party’s Electoral Commission (EC), not all the six aspirants who picked nomination forms had returned them by Saturday. Only four aspirants had submitted their forms duly signed by at least 20 delegates in support of their nomination.
The party’s EC spent most of Saturday verifying whether the forms had been signed by genuine delegates.
“We want to make sure that the signatures given to us are of real delegates. We are calling each of them to find out whether indeed it is them who signed the papers,” Lubega said.
Campaigns are expected to kick off on August 17 while voting by about 1,500 delegates will be held on November 17.
WHO IS SUPPORTING WHO?
Reports emerged last week that a group of party members close to the Besigye-led defiance cabinet were persuading Munyagwa and Lukubira to bow out of the race in favour of Amuriat.
Amuriat is the defiance cabinet’s minister for Lands and is believed to be easier to deal with than the unflinching Muntu, who has often stood his ground on matters that he feels strongly about.
For instance, Muntu has forced FDC members to back official party candidates as a matter of principle in elections where sections of the party would rather have thrown their weight behind a popular opponent.
“There are many activities that Besigye and group want to recruit FDC into but they have always been met with unwillingness on the part of Muntu; so, they think defiance and other activism activities will be better embraced with one of their own,” a senior member of the party who declined to be named told us.
However, Munyagwa, who did not deny the overtures by the Besigye group, ruled out the possibility of stepping down for Amuriat.
“Some of our defiance members believe that Amuriat is of advanced age. He is cool-headed, etc, but none of us is not cool-headed. It is the situation that has changed us,” Munyagwa said.
Out of the pool of six, the party’s top brass appears to be divided between Muntu and Amuriat. According to a well-placed party source, besides Ssemujju, Muntu has to his side deputy presidents Alice Alaso (Eastern), Reagan Okumu (North) and Patrick Baguma (Western).
He also has the support of Winfred Kiiza (Leader of Opposition in Parliament), MPs Angeline Osegge (Soroti Woman) and Ibrahim Kasozi (Makindye West).
Amuriat, on the other hand, has won over Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwaawo, the Lubaga division mayor, Salaamu Musumba, secretary general Nathan Nandala-Mafabi, his deputy Harold Kaija, treasurer Geoffrey Ekanya and his deputy Wilberforce Kyambadde and secretary for mobilization Ingrid Turinawe.
Ahead of the nomination exercise, The Observer sought to interview all the six aspirants who have picked nomination forms.
While some of the aspirants were available to offer extensive interviews ahead of the nomination days, others could only provide brief insights into the reasons why they have offered themselves for the party’s top job. Below, we look at the latter category.
He is a long-time party mobiliser from the newly created Rukiga district who thinks it’s his time to climb to the helm.
“The youth are excited about my candidature. The fact that one of their own is going to be on the ballot paper is already an achievement for them,” Byamugyisha said.
Byamugisha became active in the FDC activities during the 2010/11 presidential campaigns as an aide to Kizza Besigye.
He was later given a job at parliament as one of a policy analysts attached to the office of the Leader of Opposition in Parliament.
In 2015, he picked nomination forms for FDC presidential flag bearer for the 2016 general elections but pulled out of the race in Besigye’s favour.
The Kawempe South MP is a newly recruited party member having joined the party in 2015 from the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
That was the culmination of his fallout with the SDP party leadership after he attempted to dethrone Michael Mabikke whom he accused of selling the party to former vice president Prof Gilbert Bukenya.
The former Kawempe division chairman is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Laws degree at Makerere University. Munyagwa told The Observer there is nothing new he is bringing to the party but like in football team, he is going to change the style of the game.
“Our party constitution says that FDC will peacefully seek power but when you look at our opponents, they are chaotic. Museveni has been an entrepreneur of chaos for a very long time; so, when such an opponent looks at you talking about peaceful means, he will just laugh knowing these tactics can’t change government,” Munyagwa said.
He says Uganda is under a military occupation; so, there is need to change the FDC constitution so that it talks about how to deal with this occupation.
“We have to change the nomenclature of the party to reenergize our people to be able to deal with the enemy we are encountered with.
Our party headquarters will be called the revolutionary house, even me as the party president I will be called the commander in chief.”
Aged 58, Muntu has been the FDC president since 2012. Although his current term of office expires in November, Muntu handed over office to party vice president for eastern Uganda (Alice Alaso) in order to contest for a second term in office.
Muntu served as Uganda’s army commander from 1989 to 1998, director of Military Intelligence, from 1987 to 1988, division commander from 1988 to 1989.
Muntu’s nomination committee chairperson, Ssemujju Nganda, said Muntu in 1981 and joined the Luwero war that brought Museveni to power, but fell out with the NRM leadership over governance issues.
“Muntu broke ranks with Mr Museveni in 2003 when the latter sought to change the Constitution to remove the two-term presidential term limits. He joined hands with others to form the FDC,” he said.
During his time in the FDC, Muntu has served as a member of the East African Legislative Assembly for ten years.
Before that, he was also an MP in the sixth parliament. Muntu has also twice challenged Dr Besigye to be the FDC presidential flag bearer.
According to Ssemujju, Muntu will name his campaign team after his nomination and further consultations.