FDC ponders Shs5m fees to bar youth from presidential race

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Moses Byamugisha is the target of the said nomination fees increase

Opposition Forum for Democratic Change [FDC] party is considering raising nomination fees to curtail some candidates from vying for the top seat, edge.ug has learnt.

The race for the presidency is between current party President Mugisha Muntu, secretary general Nandala Mafabi, former Kumi County MP, Patrick Amuriat Oboi and the mobiliser for the youth league, Moses Byamugisha.

Muntu whose term of office expires on November 22, succeeded Kizza Besigye after defeating Mafabi.

Last week, the party deputy spokesperson, Paul Mwiru, called upon the candidates to pick nomination forms, announcing that the party national council would sit on June 16-17 to discuss the election road map.

The party deputy secretary, Harold Kaija, said nomination of the party president will take place on August 14 to August 15 while open campaigns will kick off on August 17 and end on 31 of the same month.

The party will then hold a delegates conference on November 2 to elect the new FDC president who will be sworn in on November 3.

Raising nomination fees

According to sources within the party, some Muntu-leaning officials have already devised a ruse to get rid of some candidates and widen their chances of securing the top office.

Apparently, the unnamed officials are plotting to raise the nomination fees for presidential candidates from Shs3.5m to Shs5m.

“They are targeting the presumed poor candidates. They are proposing to raise nomination fees from Shs3.5m to at least 5m for presidential candidates,” the source said.

However, we learnt that the development is not yet discussed in any formal meeting although it continues to gather momentum in informal circles.

The source cited a lot of gaps within the opposition party saying it has become a habit for officials to use underhand methods to ensure hasty ideas sail through.

“The candidates were told to pay Shs3.5m without even explaining the basis. Once again, without explaining the basis, they are raising it yet higher.”

“That is how FDC things start…like rumours and end up becoming a party position. Some officials claim it’s a good thing because it will help the party raise money for operations. Personally, I think but it’s a ruse to eliminate some candidates who may not afford the fees.”

As we gathered, Muntu and Mafabi being party bigwigs can afford to pay the nomination fees.

The same goes for Amuriat, a former member of parliament for 10 years and successful business.

That leaves Byamugisha who has had no stable job since he left university, having spent most of his time following Kizza Besigye in defiance campaigns and other activism agendas.

Proxy war between Muntu, Besigye camps

Byamugisha, having served as Besigye’s aide, is now a target of Muntu’s camp that is desperate to retain the top office.

“Byamugisha is one such presumed poor candidate since most youth leaders have been activists and have no specific jobs,” the source said, clarifying that Muntu’s camp that is pushing the idea aims at reducing the number of candidates and consolidating its support base to secure its position.

“With Byamugisha at the centre,” the source noted, “Muntu’s camp is fighting a proxy war with Besigye.”

It remains unclear whether FDC aims at preventing young people from taking part in leadership yet the same party has always accused the ruling NRM party of failure to groom young leaders.

Byamugisha recently declared his intention to stand as FDC president while celebrating his 35th birthday at his home in Nsasa-Namugongo, outside Kampala.

The youthful budding politician accuses the party leadership of suffocating the voices of the young and not allowing them meaningful representation.

Last year, he expressed interest in contesting for FDC’s flag bearer presidential election race but later dropped out because he had not attained the mandatory age.

Byamugisha who hails from Rujumbura county, Rukungiri district, western Uganda, holds a diploma in law from Law Development Centre and a Bachelor of Laws from Uganda Christian University (UCU), Mukono.

He says his father, Can. James Byarugaba who was a die-hard supporter – cum – mobiliser of Dr Kizza Besigye in 2001 inspired him to take interest in national politics.

He became active in opposition politics during 2001 presidential elections campaigns with other young people who were excited about a new person challenging an establishment of President Museveni.