By Timothy Sibasi
I have listened to many voices arguing that, it’s time for the main opposition leader Rtd Col Dr. Kizza Besigye in Uganda to take a back seat for the new kid on the block for Uganda’s opposition struggle for power Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine to turn down tables for 35 years rule of NRM party. Short of that option other voices are suggesting the former army commander Maj Gen. Gregory Mugisha Muntu under his new party, the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT). All are good proposals but are they practical solutions to the problem at stake?
The advocates for Kyagulanyi against Besigye claim his a charismatic leader who has caught the eyes for the majority youths with a determinant block vote to get the NRM under Gen. Museveni out of power. Kyagulanyi holds an interesting view of removing Gen. Museveni from power in the 2021 general polls. He says all Ugandans of sound minds who missed out on the national Identity Card registration should embrace the second phase of registration and register for the IDs he believes that it’s a major and determinant sword to deal with the 35 year rule of Gen. Museveni once and for all. It’s a well thought view but only applicable in a democratic society where the doctrine of separation of power is respected with functional systems of governess.
The Gen. Muntu bet to get Gen. Museveni out of power is premised on building vibrant party structures, while his fan base looks at him as a gentle and sober person to deal with the Musevenism rule, I respect all the views advanced in the Muntu bet for power but with reservations. If am to go with the first leg of his argument to building vibrant party structures as a starting point to get rid of Museveni, then the hopes of him appearing on the ballot paper in 2021 presidential polls is farfetched. The time left is not conducive for him to build the party structures he desires for his ANT Party to take power in 2021.
It would be committing political suicide if he dared to appear on the ballot party for 2021, he will have created an easy walk for Gen.Museveni in the park for the 2021 presidency. If convinced by his supporters to contest in 2021, the much that Gen. Muntu will score will be 1% and this will be the last nail on the coffin of his political career as it was in the case of former Premier John Parick Amama Mbabazi convinced that with the prominence he held as supper minister under the Museveni regime, it would be easy for him to use the NRM Party structures to get rid of Museveni in the 2016 presidential polls but little did he know that the strategy was going to don on him like it was with the Mount Kenya mafias in the 1980s. Is FDC and Besigye still a force to reckon with in the struggle for regime change in Uganda?
It’s no doubt FDC is still a brand that any opposition politician would desire to associate himself with; it has strong party structures right away from the grass roots up the National level. Its main challenge has been with vote protection, which is associated with inadequate funds at the climax of an electoral exercise. Under estimating Besigye by other political actors is wrong, none of his political rivals can demonstrate the charismatic, bravery and lobbying capabilities to face off with a military regime putting on a white goat’s skin to portray a democratic government.
FDC financial challenges:
Beside the small deductions made off salaries of FDC MPs which is 250,000/= per month and not enough to run party activities and sustaining the party secretariat, individual financing of the FDC by people like Besigye, Mafabi, and Mzee Garuga Musinguzi before he fell out, partly explains why Besigye and Mafabi have a bigger stake in the party which has compelled a section of their political opponents in the party to fall out with them. But truth be told he who pays the pie-pa calls the tunes.
Apparently Besigye is running country wide mobilization tours, meeting with party leaders at the grass roots and speaking to party supporters in preparation for the 2021 polls, on personal funds not party funds any person with a contrary view from his within the party would be much more interested to ask where does he get the funds to run this mobilization? I find this an act of patriotism, bravery, strong love and conviction to the FDC Party which his political rivals in the party and those who have fallen out do not have. The need for a power sharing agreement between Besigye, Kyagulanyi, and Muntu; While political alliances don’t work in Uganda’s political scenarios, I find it prudent that the three can enter a power sharing deal on account of what each one comes along with as a strategy to up rout the
Museveni long lived regime. Both Kyagulanyi and Gen. Muntu do not weld popular support across the country like what Besigye does neither do Kyagulanyi’s People power, Our Power pressure group and Gen. Muntu’s Alliance for National Transformation have party structures like FDC, to enable them win a hotly contested presidential election in Uganda.This does not mean that their support be under estimated by FDC, otherwise that would be a miscalculation in politics.From an independent perspective, Kyagulanyi in the run up to 2021 presidential polls will command a significant section of unprivileged and unemployed Ugandan youths in some urban centers across the country but even with that, Kyagulanyi still has a big challenge to convince educated youths to join his pressure group. Many elite youths hold personal reservations on him as an individual which are based on academic grounds, intellectual reasoning, leadership skills, understanding the country’s macro and micro economic situations, Uganda’s foreign policy and many other issues despite the support he has from a section of illiterate youths who partly hold significant numbers that can determine victory in a power sharing arrangementdeal.
The trajectory on the side of Gen. Muntu indicates that he has the support for the elite class both within government and in the private sector who feel his gentility and undisputed leadership skills can be a better solution to the outstanding political and governess problems that faces the country today. However, the major problem with the Ugandan elite class they hardly go to vote neither do their block vote determine victory. Therefore, Muntu’s elite support can be required in a victory where he consents in a power sharing deal with Besigye because Besigye commands both the elite and illiterates in different parts and regions of the country.
The Army factor:
Gen. Muntu also has an upper hand in causing a purge in the army, which is Gen. Museveni’s strong and last card holding him in power.
The situation in the army is ripe for Museveni’s exit, but the credibility of Ugandan opposition politicians has always fallen short of convincing the army that after Museveni, the country will not break and the future of the army will be better than it is now. Over the time opposition politicians wrestling for power from President Museveni, have left out issues affecting the army in their manifestos, even when they attempt to speak about the army verbally the packaging is always poor.
This has made the majority rank and file soldiers lacking political orientation to perceive Gen. Museveni as their Alfa and Omega, but this doesn’t mean that their not aware of the problems bedeviling them but the loose opposition figure heads that have failed to address issues affecting the army stand to blame. However, Gen. Muntu having been an army commander and the longest serving without any dented record in the management of the army, stands a better mirror to articulate issues affecting the army and creating a silver lining in the army that can cause the exit of Gen. Museveni and his NRM Party.Otherwise as long as the issues affecting the army remain a minor issue in the manifestos of opposition politicians and in their speeches, Gen. Museveni who is on a country wide tour of all army barracks in the country to understand problems of soldiers which in my opinion is a fallacy will remain a deceptive darling to the army which is an important factor in determining regime and state survival.