By Max Patrico Ocaido
Today (January 15, 2018) marks exactly 2 years since Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party founder and four-time presidential candidate promised that, “in a very short time, every Ugandan would be walking with a swagger.”
This was during the January 15, 2016 historic presidential debate that lowered curtains for the February 18, 2016 general elections.
Besigye’s ambition of becoming president were however, once shattered after garnering only 3,508,687 votes compared to his main rival and incumbent President Yoweri Museveni who scooped 5,971,872 votes- about 61% of the total vote.
It should be noted that Besigye defiantly denied then FDC President Maj. Gen Mugisha Muntu a chance to contest after the former returned from ‘retirement’ to give it another try at the expense of sections of the opposition loyalists who could have preferred another candidate.
Having lost four consecutive times in the last 4 general elections, Besigye who has been at the helm of Uganda’s opposition politics for close to two decades could currently be going through ideological and strategic meltdown that could see him and the FDC party legacy at large dumped in the dustbin of Uganda’s history.
FDC- A PARTY OF FAILED STRATEGIES
With the new party leadership now in place led by former Kumi MP County Patrick Amuriat Oboi, everything at the Nanjjanankumbi based party seems to be going Chinua Achebe’s way-falling apart as party honchos have resorted to taking divergent paths to serve their own interests. FDC honchos have without doubt deserted interests of the party and are now scrambling for individual political relevance.
On January 8, 2018, FDC president Amuriat kick started his first campaign of the New Year where he urged the public to isolate all Members of Parliament who voted in favour of the lifting of the presidential age limits.
“Those MPs should be treated as outcasts in our society because they murdered the Constitution which is going to affect all of us and those in the next generation. They should not be allowed to speak during public functions such as burials,” Amuriat said while addressing journalists at the party headquarters in Najjanankumbi. His campaign has not only been ridiculed by members of the public, but even some sections from other opposition political parties.
During Uganda Peoples’ Congress (UPC) weekly briefing, party spokesperson Michael Osinde said that Amuriat’s isolation strategy is opportunism and could fuel divisionism.
“If you went to the ground now, you will find out that the population is already charged up against their legislators which has created tension, now if there is already tension what new thing are you bringing on board apart from just being opportunistic with selfish motives,” Osinde said.
A few days after Amuriat declared the ‘isolation’ campaign, Besigye also launched the ‘Tubalemese campaign’ (Literally meaning let’s fail or curtail them) at his offices on Katonga Road with the motive to boycott companies run and owned by the ruling party members. This was after opposition failed to stop the Age limit Bill through their 'Togikwatako' a campaign urging MPs not to dare amend the Constitution to remove presidential age limits.
The question of if Besigye’s Tubalemese campaign will be a success is a story for another day, but there is a general feeling that the public could be tired of being fed on empty strategies that never bear fruit.
It should be noted that a week before the Age limit Bill was passed, opposition MPs launched "Togikwatako" Red Week intended to rally Ugandans to wear red colours in protest of the Bill that was passed on December 20, 2017. The Red week campaign suffered a natural death on arrival.
As people were still digesting Besigye’s Tubalemese campaign, Mugisha Muntu on Sunday declared that he would on Monday (today) launch his countrywide consultation meetings in Bunyoro sub region-specifically Hoima district.
It is worth noting that after losing to Amuriat in the November 24 polls, Gen Muntu revealed that his future at FDC would be determined by decisions made during the now ongoing countrywide consultation meetings.
“I have a feeling that majority of the delegates do not trust me and this is something I have to deal with,” Muntu said in a shocking revelation ahead of the FDC polls.
There is a possibility that after consulting, the former UPDF commander, could quit FDC party that he joined after falling out with NRM’s Museveni. He has been widely encouraged to join civil society or form his own political party.
Now, with Besigye, Muntu and other top FDC honchos all taking their own paths, Amuriat could be left to preside over carcasses of a divided party that may even struggle to identify candidates for the imminent LC 1 elections.
TIMELINE OF FDC FAILED CAMPAIGNS
2000/2001: Before the 2001 presidential elections, Besigye having founded the FDC party after falling out with Museveni, came with a bang and all the vibe to oust the latter in his first attempt. To do so, Besigye adopted a campaign nickname-Ssenyondo (to mean Hammer). The Hammer (Besigye) was to dislodge the bicycle’s quarter pin (Museveni). However, the hammer crash-landed with only 27% of the vote as the quarter pin garnered 69%. Besigye had no choice but to flee the country to nurse his first political wounds.
2005/2006: In October 2005, Besigye triumphantly returned into the country with the intention to give it another try against President Museveni. This time he returned not as the Hammer, but as Tsunami-a hurricane that was meant to sweep away Museveni and his NRM government. At the end of the 2006 elections, the Tsunami was the one that was swept away after getting 37% compared to Museveni’s 59%.
April 2011: Having lost for the third time in the general polls, Besigye launched the Walk to Work campaign that was meant to protest the high cost of living including; increased cost of fuel, which had risen by 50% between January and April 2011. Precisely, the first Walk to Work protest took place on 11 April 2011, and was organised by the pressure group Activists for Change (A4C), commanded by Besigye. Although, Walk to Work proved to be Besigye’s first and perhaps last successful campaign, it was quelled by police after some elements of people started looting shops amidst the walk to work confusion that saw some people lose their lives.
March 2016: After losing in the 2016 general polls, FDC leadership launched National Prayer Tuesday dubbed “Free my Vote” campaign where they held prayers every Tuesday in protest of the February 18 poll. The prayers did not however last long before they were abandoned.
August 2017: Democratic Party leadership in August launched a new campaign-Togikwatako against the proposed amendment of the presidential age limit. Dr Besigye and his FDC group jumped on, urging members of the middle class to abandon their cars and move with the common people in taxis or bodabodas. This was not welcomed by the masses and it, too, failed to reap the desired objective as Parliament amended Article (102)b of the Constitution with a few people wearing red.
October 2017: Having suspended the National Prayer Tuesday, FDC party on October 17 through deputy its spokesperson Paul Mwiru said that the Party had decided to resume their defiance Tuesday prayers in order to pray for NRM MPs to join them against lifting of presidential age limit. This move was also abandoned before resumption.
December 2017: Opposition MPs led by deputy Leader of Opposition Roland Mugume, Rukungiri Municipality MP on December 07 declared "Togikwatako" Red week that was meant to block age limit debate as the committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs prepared it for its second reading. The MPs rallied Ugandans countrywide to wear red and get on the streets in protest. However, no one was seen on the streets including the MPs who launched the campaign. Not even the efforts of Amuriat to engage into the campaign bore any fruits.
January 2017: Besigye’s Tubalemese campaign that was launched on January 11, 2018 is his latest campaigns so far. This was launched after opposition failed to stop the Age limit Bill through their 'Togikwatako' campaign. The new campaign is rally Ugandans to boycott companies run and owned by the ruling party members. It remains to be seen how far this will go although it has been laughed off by some members of the public as a desperate measure to remain relevant.