By Max Ocaido Patrick
The opposition leaders’ new coalition may have to employ new working strategies if they are to give President Yoweri Museveni a run for his money in the 2021 elections.
On Thursday last week, Opposition leaders unveiled a “new” Democratic Party (DP) bloc through a Memorandum of Understanding that brought together three registered political parties; DP, People’s Development Party (PDP) and Social Development Party (SDP).
The MoU was signed by Norbert Mao of DP, Abed Bwanika of PDP and Mike Mabikke of SDP and witnessed by other opposition leaders such as Gen Mugisha Muntu of Alliance for National Transformation, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine of People Power pressure group, Asuman Basalirwa of JEEMA among others.
The new DP bloc is aimed at building mutual cooperation in the run up to the 2021 general elections against President Yoweri Museveni and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party. The new coalition is also aimed at possible fronting of one presidential candidate.
However, the multi-million question is if the new opposition coalition will pass the test of time and live to achieve its objective before dissolution considering the high level of incoherence that different political parties have exhibited since the 2011 elections.
Whereas, the other political parties converged at Hotel Africana on Thursday, the biggest opposition party- the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) was missing in action. FDC President Patrick Amuriat and the four time presidential candidate Kizza Besigye were moving in circles in running battles with police in western Uganda.
There was no representative at the MOU signing- an indicator that the FDC was parallel to the purpose of the new coalition and therefore, did not endorse it which is a big blow. It is not surprising that during the meeting, Abed Bwanika, a former presidential candidate spoke in parables in a message that was seemingly directed to FDC top leaders saying that they are struggling for relevance.
“There are people in opposition who are struggling to remain relevant and the season will sweep them,” Bwanika said.
It is now very clear that factions within opposition have hit the climax and are vehemently weakening them despite any efforts to resuscitate the opposition bloc. During the same meeting, Bobi Wine went bare knuckles on Besigye and hit the last nail on his coffin by accusing him of not offering solutions for them in the struggle against President Museveni.
"For a leader to say a vote can never oust Museveni without offering a solution is disappointing... Don't talk about democracy and stand four times and on the fifth time you say democracy doesn't work, we believe it works," the Kyadondo East MP said.
During his time at the helm of FDC, Besigye has been accused by other opposition leaders of dictatorship, greed and selfishness and failing to give other potential leaders an opportunity to contest for presidency. In fact, before the 2011 elections, Besigye vowed never to appear on the ballot only to bounce back after beating Muntu in the FDC primaries. He did the same in the 2016 elections at a time when the opposition expected him to pave way for the new blood.
If this new coalition is to shake President Museveni in the 2021 elections, then the element of trust, respect, and commitment devoid of betrayal must be at the forefront. And this is where the current opposition leaders have fallen short. During the Thursday Frontline political talk show on NBS, Government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo laughed at the levels of pretense exhibited by the opposition saying that nearly 90% of them are only opposition by the day.
It is the reason Mugisha Muntu tasked the new coalition to sort the issue of trust if they are to achieve their goals come 2021. “We first have to deal with the issue of trust. Trust is very important. Trust in the politics of our country is in deficit,” Muntu said.
It is not the first time opposition have formed an alliance to defeat the NRM government. Before the 2011 elections, opposition parties formed the Inter-Party Coalition (IPC) which collapsed at its inception after the leaders disagreed on whether to participate in the election or not for as long it is overseen by Badru Kiggundu, then chairperson, Electoral Commission.
In 2015, opposition parties again formed a new coalition-The Democratic Alliance (TDA) with intention to front one candidate for the 2016 general election. The coalition however, hit deadlock after opposition leaders; Besigye and Amama Mbabazi failed to give way for each other leading to the dissolution of the coalition. Following the previous trends, it is clear that the new coalition could suffer the same predicament that was faced by TDA and IPC.