FDC is an extra-ordinary political party that is loved and loathed by Ugandans in equal measure. Those who believe in it will fight to defend her founding values and those who hate it are eternally wary of the conviction of majority of the members.
I am not a card holding member of FDC but I have supported FDC candidates wherever they have contested; and before then, I supported and voted two Reform Agenda candidates ie Kizza Besigye who contested for Presidency in 2001 and Paul Kahigi who contested for LC3 chairperson Kyamuhunga S/County against a close family friend Ignatius Musokye. I have had no regrets.
As FDC delegates assembled in Namboole to vote Party President on Friday, I spent all day labouring to explain to Journalists the mindset and sentiments of FDC members; particularly stating to them that Patrick Oboi Amuriat would win with 60%. None believed me because; they narrowed the contest to be between Gen. Mugisha Muntu and President Kizza Besigye.
A journalist, I told in the week I was getting sympathetic towards Gen. Muntu because I was afraid of the margin of loss, later told me I am defending Besigye too much. I was very clear about the percentage win for Amuriat even when I had not talked to 50 delegates throughout. I read their sentiments and mood.
A close friend Mpiima M Daudi told me he needs some of powers of prediction. I also will have a turkey from a youthful Tororo delegate for my correct prediction he had dismissed earlier in the day.
In Namboole alone, I told journalists to purposefully look at delegates and how they presented themselves. Most were either wearing a Red Ribbon or Red Cap. The Red caps were provided by Gen. Muntu campaign team and had MM initials on them.
I didn’t talk to any delegate about their preference of choice of Red Ribbon or Red Cap but told my friends that every delegate that was wearing a Red Ribbon was going to vote POA.
Those who were wearing Red cap and a Red Rip together were also going to vote POA and those who were holding Red caps in their hands were also likely going to Vote POA but those who were wearing Red Cap only were going to Vote Gen. Muntu. These were clearly visible characteristics of delegates in Namboole but again as elites, we ignored them.
But let me state that I am known to less than 1% of FDC delegates so I could not enjoy the luxury of talking to them freely. And because I am not known to them, I was able to tap into many people’s conversations before elections and on Election Day.
So in my discussion with journalists at Namboole, I made it clear that most FDC delegates, who are moderately educated and therefore with less Lugezigezi are still hurt by the outcome of 2016 election. They saw a coup right before their eyes and got deeply hurt.
They were also hurt they could not stop it. Never before have people been so hurt and angry after an election like in 2016. And someone was going to be punished for Museveni’s thuggery. Unfortunately, that person was Muntu because he was the only one going to be subjected to an internal FDC election after 2016.
So I kept saying the contest is not between Kizza Besigye (who was not on ballot) and Gen. Mugisha Muntu, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, Moses Byamugisha and Malcom Matsiko (who were on ballot), but rather, the outcome of 2016 Presidential elections and the aftermath.
You can hate Besigye and pretend that he caused Muntu’s loss; probably to look for who to blame, but the truth is that the Museveni coup had a toll on delegates. It was purely a sentimental election and as I said, I read people’s sentiments right from nomination. Simply put, Muntu was a victim of the 2016 election outcome.
I have previously written on this platform that majority of FDC supporters, who are moderately educated or not educated at all (illiterate) are motivated by the desire for political change. Nothing else. They simply want Museveni out and are very impatient. Some of them have fought for so long but as Kizza Besigye often says, many may not realize that political returns are incremental.
And because they don’t wear suits, are eternally broke, can’t speak good English and neither can they wear expensive colognes nor eat good and nutritious food, they sometimes pass with foul smell or foul mouth but have never lost focus of removing Museveni.
That is exactly why these people are often called HOOLIGANS. But with their hooligan mentality, I often say, they are the most ruthless and merciless ordinary political players I know in Uganda. They punish and punish hard whoever they believe does not serve their interests or contradicts with their aspirations.
Personally I have come to understand and appreciate their ruthless radical mentality towards elite political actors. They are genuine to themselves and loyal to their cause and interests. You are either with them or against them. They do not double deal like our elites. And they love politics and fully engage truthfully.
These genuine FDC ordinary members are not rented. Yes because they are poor, many may accept financial favours or “bribes” but they will eat your money and betray you. None in Uganda today understands this trend more than Yoweri Museveni and Kale Kayihura, because the two fellows have deployed the most aggressive multi-billion bribery infrastructure against FDC members with limited success.
Unfortunately, like usually is the case, it is the elites that fall for the bribes and abandon the struggle leaving the moderately educated or illiterates to fight on. Sometimes, the elites make choices after hooligans have made choices. When the illiterates fight for good cause, the elites withdraw or engage in total blackmail.
It is exactly why, in opinion, the same delegates, unlike any other time in FDC history, demanded the candidate to be sworn-in immediately after his acceptance speech at 2am amid protests from Ag. President Alice Alaso.
Why would delegates be so impatient that they cannot wait for a day or two to swear in a new Party President? This impatience should signal something to the elites and surely Besigye did not ask them to make sure they don’t leave Namboole before Amuriat is sworn in deep in the night!
I also asked journalists to interrogate why most of the current FDC delegates did not compete for the lucrative elective political positions? Many journalists and our so called elites don’t understand what motivates FDC members to be leaders of FDC but not at a national level. You will find an FDC district Chairperson or Constituency Chairperson who didn’t contest for LCV or Parliament yet FDC had candidates at those levels.
Simple. It is because most of the FDC local leaders are not driven by desires to occupy political offices and it is why most current FDC MPs in Parliament are not delegates from their constituencies but were rather appointed to NEC by Gen. Muntu. But as I say, most of those MPs are elites but if you amend the FDC constitution to remove the powers of appointment to NEC by the President, most of those MPs will not be NEC members.
I am not a politician but in my relationship with politicians, I spend my time reading and understanding their sentiments. In my time working with Kizza Besigye, and I spend a lot of time with him, never has he ever said or planned anything against Gen. Muntu. Never. To the contrary, I have once heard him shower praises on Muntu.
Besigye speaks on phone while it is in louder speaker. He never puts a phone onto his ear. Many people know this. He has never deployed anyone to undermine Muntu or said anything to anyone against Muntu.
Of course Muntu has his haters like Besigye has many of them- that is politics where some hate you and others love you- but if anyone is holding a conversation with Besigye and you start your talk against Muntu, Besigye goes mute. The conversation ends there. Many people know this character of Besigye never talking ill about anyone in FDC whether in private or public.
Secondly, on Gen. Muntu’s campaign team, there were people who supported him wholeheartedly and those members meet Besigye more often than Besigye meets his so called radicals he allegedly deploys inside FDC to undermine Muntu.
I talked to three of them at Namboole. I politely asked them to know whether Besigye, in his meetings with them, has ever undermined their candidate. All of them denied and instead blamed Ingrid for pushing them away.
I corrected them to say I was not questioning their loyalty or support for Muntu but rather needed to know whether Besigye has ever undermined Muntu before them. They all said Besigye is a good man except Ingrid. The 3rd person, who first showered praises on me for treating them well like Sam Mugumya used to, when I asked him, he denied. He calls both men Afande.
Besigye’s biggest problem is that he is the only politician in Uganda whom his admirers will fight for without his knowledge or express instruction or authorization. Politicians who understand this are careful to cross his path. You attack Besigye, many people get hurt and fight back, even if with only words. That is why his supporters are called RADICALS. For example, I have not sought his permission to write this on my timeline because he is the only politician I know who is not patronizing.
His army of warriors on social media, streets, villages and even in the FDC National Delegates Conference are simply volunteers who share his ideas. I know showing such unrivalled affection to a political leader annoys many but being a Besigye is unexplained matter of creation. And the moment we realize that most of us will never be lucky to a Besigye, we shall stop being envious of him.
The positive from the election is that, unlike the 2012 one, this was not polarizing. There was less animosity. Probably, without involving Kizza Besigye’s name, it would have be the most boring FDC election ever. And this is because POA was a candidate that came with no baggage. He was a villager from Kanyum in Kumi who made first shot at FDC presidency and won.
He is a very honest, humble, genuine and down to earth Itesot. He speaks from his heart. Unfortunately, like Besigye, he has been judged from his street battles with police during campaigns and therefore, the public may have missed his best attributes as a human being. Like Besigye, if you want comparisons, his humility is above the clouds.
I know many, who look to political positions than the grand scheme of removing Museveni will be looking at how POA redeploys his political forces to judge him. But many of you will be shocked to learn that he will be more accommodative like a man credited for his win.
I know POA will dearly want to work with everyone except those who don’t mind Museveni dynasty presiding over Ugandans. He is a very impatient man with Museveni regime but very hopeful that the regime is in its final days. However everyone must make a choice whether they want to work with POA to push Museveni out.
For me, the only connection I see and know between Besigye and POA is that both men have uncompromising conviction about ending Museveni dynasty. They are not lukewarm about it. That conviction is what appealed to majority FDC delegates. Who as I said, only want change?
At the end of it all, FDC is a democracy.
Ronald Muhinda, the author, is an FDC youth activist and aide of Kizza Besigye