Some musings on People Power, FDC and other political groups

Sunday July 26 2020

Bernard Tabaire

Bernard Tabaire  

By Bernard Tabaire

The brawl in FDC is turning out to be rather brutal. Disagreements over the years have devolved into purges or mass desertions within the parliamentary wing of the party.

And, of course, there was that utterly crass death wish on Kampala Woman MP Nabilah Sempala by the party’s secretary general Nandala Mafabi, also, an MP. This happened on live television.

One of the more intriguing aspects of the FDC fight is that the party has antagonised several of its members from greater Kasese, an area that has more consistently than any supplied MPs for the party.

We should put FDC on suicide watch. It may be hard for the party to attract electable members if it can’t address internal dissent.

The party seems to have an unnecessary purity test. If you are not for defiance (using fist cuffs to oppose President Museveni’s government), then you are not a member in good standing. You are side-lined, dubbed a Museveni mole. There is an asinine quality to this.

FDC’s retreat from building a large tent that was its initial promise from its Parliamentary Advocacy Forum (PAFO) and Reform Agenda roots has created a vacuum that Bobi Wine’s People Power is gleefully filling.


If you are a party that is not in power, you should be working hard to expand your appeal not to shrink it, moreover, in very visible ways.

It is hard to say, but it is not too farfetched to suggest that FDC is in for some drubbing in the parliamentary elections early next year.

Meanwhile, I am one of those still stumped by People Power becoming the National Unity Platform. It is unlikely that People Power can continue to exist when its leaders are also leaders of NUP.

The switch, of course, was solely to enable Bobi Wine (formally known as Robert Kyagulanyi) find a vehicle to use to run for president. Therein lies a tell-tale sign of things to come. If People Power must die so that Bobi Wine runs for president, then let it die.

The promise of People Power as a large movement around which mostly younger Ugandans could rally and force deep change in our politics is gone. Not even the suggestive word platform in the NUP name will save it.

As a political party, NUP will come with its own quirks and unprincipled fights that will allow NRM and President Museveni to circle and begin to pick off key members one after the other.

Things seem quiet in UPC — to the extent that one can speak of UPC being quiet. Its dynastic aspirations may just eventually take hold as MP Jimmy Akena continues to assert himself. The party, though, needs some spark. There are no exciting figures in there. Looks like the gentleman’s understanding with NRM has dulled things.

DP is somewhat exciting. It is, however, failing to manage its talented top politicians so as to turn the party into a political force. So much promise, so little to show for it.

ANT — Alliance for National Transformation — needs to launch quickly. It seems to be playing the long game, hoping to take power not in 2021 but 2026 or later, assuming its people can wait that long.

The quiet charisma of its leader, Gen Mugisha Muntu, needs to be complemented with some open fire in the belly supplied by other party honchos. It needs to offer open excitement to keep it in our imagination, to keep it going.

As things stand, NRM sits pretty. It has State resources to play with. But it needs to be shaken properly, even defeated. So far it is hard to see where that shaking will come from.

Mr Tabaire is a media trainer and commentator on public affairs based in Kampala.