By Jessica A Badebye
Tension was high in the Ugandan main opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) as members went to the polls to vote for the party’s flag bearer in the country’s forthcoming presidential elections. The polls held during the party’s delegate’s conference this week marked the end of the 56 days outgoing party leader Major Mugisha Muntu and the former Dr Kiiza Besigye have traversed the country, creating awareness of their manifestos and plans for the country once elected as President.
Dr Besigye won the party polls with 718 votes to Muntu’s 289 votes out of 1,043 delegates, qualifying him as party flag bearer for the fourth time. The party exhibited the highest level of internal party democracy when Major Muntu conceded honourably. “This is not a loss for me. I’m a long distance runner. For every dark cloud, there is a silver lining. I congratulate Besigye for winning,” said Muntu as he accepted defeat. This gesture has since sparked applause for the party from analysts who have said that Dr Besigye and Gen Muntu displayed the true definition of democracy that ought to be emulated by other parties. As political analysts are busy showering FDC with applauds, bickering amongst the top leadership of the ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) has gained momentum to an extent of halting party activities. Party Secretary General (SG) Justine Kasule Lumumba, her deputy Richard Todwong and the Electoral Commission Chairman Tanga Odoi are the leaders publically washing their dirty linen over facilitation.
According to the party election road map, the NRM was expected to hold local council primaries on Friday 4th September but the exercise has been postponed to Monday 7th September. Odoi explained to the media that the exercise has been postponed due to having received funds late but also because it rained. “The rain disrupted the schedule. I also got the funds late and my staff are demoralised,” explained Odoi. However, earlier in the week, Odoi told the media at the party headquarters that Lumumba was frustrating his efforts by refusing to release funds to run party primaries.
It is believed that the rift between Lumumba and Odoi sparked off when the NRM SG issued appointment letters to 200 party registrars, a duty which entirely belongs to the Electoral Commission. In retaliation, Odoi recruited a parallel team and explained that Lumumba’s team would handle registration of party supporters while his team handles internal party elections. Although Lumumba as SG plays a role of an overall seer of party activities, Odoi assured her that he draws his powers from Article 39 of the NRM constitution, which says he is answerable to the NRM Central Executive Committee (CEC), the second highest party organ and therefore not under her hierarchy.
Todwong is also complaining of facilitation, office management and recruitment. Sources close to the party say that Lumumba has recruited staff without following the procedure while others have revealed that the three have no respect for each other. The rift between the three has become public knowledge to the extent that it has forced the CEC to summon them to a meeting this weekend. There are however two schools of thought on the issue. One notates that it is possible that it could be a gender issue that has brought out the male ego, considering the fact that Lumumba is a woman to whom the two men are most probably answerable to while the second could be that Lumumba is so excited about her job that she wants to show the party leader that she is working so hard and can therefore do it all, forgetting that a good leader divides and delegates labour to enhance team work hence success as a collective effort. Failure to delegate is usually a remedy for disaster.
On a sad note, Ugandan peacekeepers in Somalia interfaced an attack by Al-Shabab militants early this week by using a vehicle-borne explosive device targeting to take control of Janaale where the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Ugandan base is located. The news was received with panic especially for parents who have children serving in the mission in the embattled country but also because government delayed to confirm the number of those dead in the attack. According to the African Union statement issued to the media on the issue, the attack was reprehensive, leaving 10 Uganda Peoples Defence Forces officers and 46 militants dead with three captured alive. The mood was sombre as fellow officers received fallen colleagues but as it is the in the army, it is often considered heroic to die in the battle field