Forum for Democratic Change [FDC] presidential candidate, Mugisha Muntu, says he has always supported opposition strongman, Kizza Besigye, even after losing to him in party elections.
“I have competed and even in times when I competed and lost, there is no person whom I harassed for not supporting me,” Muntu told Teso sub region delegates last week.
Muntu challenged anyone to come forward and confesses that it [being harassed] truly happened and then he would apologise there and then.
“I respect people who tell me that they won’t support. I never fight, undermine, discourage or manipulate anything against them. Democracy cannot go alone without tolerance.”
Muntu recalled that it was his fifth time standing before the delegates of FDC. A delegate put it to Muntu that he got only 54 votes when he first contested.
In response, Muntu said he knew what he was doing. “We had only two weeks, we only campaigned thru media houses in Kampala.”
Planting seeds of democracy
Muntu said he is always realistic and that he knew Dr. Besigye was insurmountable then but he knew the right thing to do for FDC and the country was to plant a seed of democratic process.
“I planted that seed in 2009. I lost and told delegates and the country that FDC has won.”
In 2010 when Muntu lost to Dr. Besigye, he pledged full support to the winner. “I was planting another seed. I hear people say “what has Muntu done”?”
Muntu said some members seem not to recognise that the process they are in is rooted in the seeds he planted in 2009 and 2010.
He observed that all parties in Uganda have not had this kind of process. “We have had now for the fifth time. You want democracy in a country? Practice that democracy within the parties.”
“Unfortunately these are things you cannot touch. You cannot touch tolerance, you cannot touch transparency, you cannot touch honesty, you cannot touch justice but they are the core for stability in any society. For those asking what I have done, we are eating fruits that I planted.”
Muntu gave another example in 2010, when he was the Secretary for mobilisation. He proposed 90 as the number of days for campaigns.
“There was an intense debate against the 90 days I proposed. The argument was that me and Dr. Besigye were already known and needed no such time. They said it would be a wastage of time.”
He said that was the first time he told the group he would leave the party once the proposal was not adopted.
“I asked, why should we put in place mechanism because of the people we see? What would happen to a less popular candidate who chooses to contest for a high office-will he/she have enough time to sell oneself?”
The proposal was passed. Muntu now hopes those new comers will appreciate his stand.
“Another this I did was to write to the Secretary General [SG] taking leave of office until the process was over. I knew the National Executive Committee [NEC] would not pass so I did it on my own so that my office does not conflict with my candidature. As we talk now, it has ceased to be a mere practice and has become one of the rules written in our guidelines. That was a seed.”
So, Muntu went on, “when I may a claim that I am a person who builds institutions and systems, I have got evidence. You want to solve the problems of this country, let us deal with the roots.”
He said now, only FDC is positioned to do that. Even when they get internal challenges emerging out of such process like was the case in 2012, FDC has got the mechanism to overcome them.
Rallying behind Besigye
Muntu recalled that when he lost to Dr. Besigye, the first thing he did was to disband his campaign team, not once not twice, to rally behind the winner.
“I planted that seed. Another challenge we have are leaders who don’t know how to manage loses. Someone loses and it becomes source of conflict. I hope many will learn from my experience. I planted that seed.”
Relationship with political actors
On his relationship with political actors, Muntu said recalled in 2012 when a one Man Ruranga walked all over him.
“He did everything he could to destroy me politically. I won’t that battle by keeping quite despite intense pressure from my team which wanted us to fight back.”
Muntu prayed to God to give him a chance to disapprove the allegations. A few weeks after the elections, Man Ruranga re-joined the NRM.
“I was planting a seed. I never tell lies or put everyone down for the sake of getting into office.”
“We now reap of them as a party, as a country. To do all these things in practical terms is not easy. Many of you have been in elections and you know what am talking about.”
Muntu reminded the delegates that FDC is engaged in an exercise to popularise itself as a Democratic party while some people talk of physical things.
“They ask how many numbers. Yes, numbers are important but I have also seen parties which were in power and had numbers but have since collapsed. KANU was in power for 40 years, where is it now? Our sister party UPC, two terms in power with majority numbers, where are they now.”
He urged them to build a party with a strong foundation, skilled leaders where one generation after the other leave but the party stays and continue governing the country in same democratic direction.
“We must build something that defies any attempts before us. That is what I present. That is who Muntu is.”
On why he is focusing on party stability, Muntu remembered in 2012 when he asked Hon. Wafula Oguttu to support him in all times he had contested.
“One thing I respect Wafula for, is that he tells me the truth. When I appointed him as LOP, I told him that am not doing so because I need his support but because I wanted strong relationship between Parliament and H/Q.”
Even in 2015, Muntu asked Oguttu for a vote and he didn’t give it to him. “I never felt aggrieved. I went to his constituency and all other colleagues who had not supported me. I never gave him instructions on what to do.”
What type of a leader do you want?
In 2015, the campaign was again tense. When he lost, delegates were uncertain about the fate of the party. Muntu still did not go to ask around what to do.
“Is there anyone who advised me on what to do thereafter? I stood on that platform and told you that I have lost but the party has won. I respect the decision of delegates. I am going to swing the party structure behind the flag bearer. That is practical. You can see that.”
He said there was no leader that had supported him that was approached for support.
He took it upon himself, went through difficult explanations to convince them. He kept on telling them “keep looking at the part”.
“Through all these experiences, I have matured, I have deepened my tolerance levels and I believe there are seeds I can plant in FDC in the next five years. This race is not exception, my personality is already being targeted but this only serves to make me a strong leader.”
Muntu said the race his is in now should not be taken as if it is a gamble.
“We are facing a potential crisis and we need a tested hand at the helm of this party. You may look at it as an FDC thing. No, this process is a country thing as far as am concerned.”