Out-going Leader of Opposition Nathan Nandala Mafabi has said he will not quit Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party to join a splinter group fronted by his supporters from the Elgon region.
Mr Mafabi, speaking out for the first time since his replacement, also denied that he was orchestrating the desertion in protest over his removal from the coveted position. “I have invested all my energies in FDC. I cannot leave. I am not party to that process [of forming a new party],” Mr Mafabi said in a telephone interview yesterday.
On Tuesday, a group of about 36 people, claiming to be FDC delegates and supporters from eastern Uganda, issued a statement after a meeting in Mbale declaring their exit from the party. They claimed FDC no longer meets their interests.
This followed a couple of rallies Mafabi held in his home district of Sironko after he was shuffled where supporters poured scorn on the party for the decision. They said their home was in a Mafabi presidency. Asked about the Mbale pronouncements, Mafabi, who is also the Budadiri West MP, said he had no control over his disenchanted supporters.
“I don’t know what is happening. It is upon Gen Muntu (the FDC president) to calm the group down,” Mr Mafabi said. “People are saying they are protesting because I lost an election which they believe was rigged and are saying this party [FDC] is not ours. The president should come and talk to them and say, “I sacked Nandala because he is incompetent and they calm down,” Mr Mafabi said.
FDC President Maj Gen (rtd) Muntu faulted Mr Mafabi’s supporters for using the media to voice their grievances. He said the procedure would have been approaching the party leadership over the matter.
Last week, Gen Muntu made a shake-up of the party’s leadership in Parliament, dropping Mr Mafabi as leader of Opposition in the House and replacing him with Bukhooli Central MP, Mr Wafula Ogutu. Mr Muntu defeated Mr Mafabi in the race for the party presidency by 32 votes at a delegates’ conference in 2012.
A scheduled FDC National Executive Committee meeting is expected today to among other things, discuss the fall-out caused by the reshuffle. It will also thrash out a position on electoral reforms ahead of the 2016 presidential polls.
Asked why he has failed to rein in his supporters and persuade them to rally behind the new Leader of Opposition, Mr Mafabi retorted; “I cannot control grown-ups.” “I have been addressing rallies of over 10,000 supporters. I cannot control grown-ups, I can only control children. I do know not what is happening. It is him [Gen Muntu] to calm them down. I have a lot of supporters from all over the country and I cannot control everything they want to do,” Mr Mafabi said.
Gen Muntu said the party leadership will respond to the grievances raised by Mr Mafabi’s supporters in a “transparent and open way”. “Even if I had appointed a westerner, they would have said: ‘look, they are marginalising us’. In the meeting that appointed Waf [Mr Oguttu], there was consensus, even Nathan endorsed him. They should stop the type of politics they are trying to play,” Gen Muntu said.