Thought and Ideas
Will Muntu-Mafabi ‘marriage of convenience’ save FDC?
Posted Sunday, October 27 2013 at 01:00
Chaotic house. Since the exit of Dr Kizza Besigye as Forum for Democratic Change party president last year, the country’s largest opposition party has been in the limelight; from electing its president to now painting a picture of a house on fire. Sunday Monitor’s Eriasa Mukiibi Sserunjogi & Solomon Arinaitwe look at the party’s past and finds out what lies ahead for FDC.
On August 23, 2013, FDC national chairman Sam Njuba wrote a scathing email to party president Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu about the conduct of business within the party.
Mr Njuba had been chosen by the party’s acting National Executive Committee (NEC) to consider a proposal by a commission led by lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi to hold a fresh party presidential election in 2014.
Mr Njuba had missed the meeting, having been admitted at Nsambya Hospital.
The Rwakafuzi commission was set up by Mr Njuba himself to consider complaints by the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Mr Nandala Mafabi’s team, concerning the conduct of last year’s elections, in which Mr Mafabi lost to Gen Muntu.
The commission, among other things, recommended that instead of serving a full five-year term, Gen Muntu should only complete Dr Kizza Besigye’s term and face another election in two years’ time. Dr Besigye had cut short his second and final term as FDC president by two years.
The proposal, however, was rejected outright by some of the people in Gen Muntu’s camp, but the party’s leadership kept postponing the final decision on the matter, in the process making some party members, especially Mr Mafabi’s backers, impatient.
By the time the NEC put up another committee in August, Mr Njuba was uninterested.
“I do not think I have any useful contribution which I have not made already,” the email, which was also copied to other party leaders, read in part.
“As you are all aware,” Mr Njuba continued, “I was mandated to set up a commission of inquiry to address some allegations made after the November presidential elections and advise on way forward. Incidentally, and for (the) record, all the members of this commission were agreed upon by all parties’ concerned (leadership) after each side had nominated their representatives.”
Mr Njuba sounded disappointed that the recommendations of the commission were not adopted wholly, a decision that threatened to break up the party when some of Mr Mafabi’s backers said they would jump ship should a fresh presidential election not happen next year.
To redeem the situation, Mr Njuba suggested, “We should bring (back) or recall the entire NEC membership as it was just before the election. From there, then we would see the way forward. That body, despite the fact that it “EXPIRED”, would command the confidence of all party members. (I regret that the legal team dismissed that view).”
Mr Njuba had made this proposal before and the legal team, led by Mr Wandera Ogalo, had rejected it. The terms of most of the office bearers in FDC expired and the NEC was as a result disbanded, with the party currently being run by an “interim NEC” composed of the president, vice presidents, cabinet members and some MPs.
Marriage of convenience?
Mr Njuba also made another suggestion, asking Gen Muntu to consider subjecting himself to an election in 2015, when the party’s presidential flag bearer is due to be elected in the lead-up to the 2016 general elections.
If this suggestion is adopted, the party presidential election would be held one year later than the Rwakafuzi commission recommended, but it would still come two years before Gen Muntu’s camp would like to have it – at the end of the five-year term.
The proposals Mr Njuba makes go a long way to illustrate the disquiet within the largest opposition party, despite recent attempts by the two principal protagonists – Gen Muntu and Mr Mafabi – to play down the fallout.
“With time people will realise that this was a storm being brewed in a tea-cup,” Gen Muntu said in reference to the wrangles within the party.
In an interview with the Sunday Monitor last week, Mr Mafabi referred to talk about the election wrangles rocking FDC as “an old story being recycled by self-seekers.”
But speculation is still rife that Mr Mafabi could be dropped from the LoP post during the mid-term review of the performance of the Parliament team, which is about to take place. Some MPs who backed Gen Muntu in the last election told us that they want Mr Mafabi out, accusing him of not cooperating with the party president.
Secretary General Alice Alaso, for one, had hoped to be the automatic choice for the LoP job after she emerged the most senior FDC member to win a parliamentary election in 2011.
Prof Ogenga Latigo, one of the party’s four deputy presidents, had been LoP in the previous Parliament, but he and Ms Salaamu Musumba, the other deputy president who had contested the parliamentary elections, lost.
Ms Alaso and some members, including Prof Latigo, objected to Mr Mafabi, a deputy party treasurer and therefore a few rungs below the SG in party hierarchy, becoming LoP.