What you need to know:
- Majority of those Monitor spoke to during the week said the conflict, which has simmered over the last two years, should not and will not split their party.
Mid-level insiders at the troubled Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) last week began to look at the party’s ongoing difficulties with some optimism, saying the party will emerge stronger even though the opposed factions appeared to be hardening their positions.
Majority of those Monitor spoke to during the week said the conflict, which has simmered over the last two years, should not and will not split their party.
It has been a difficult 24 months ever since FDC’s founding president Dr Kizza Besigye first raised the issue of “dirty money” being allegedly sneaked into the party during a National Council meeting held at the party headquarters in Najjanankumbi in 2021.
The “dirty money” crisis has now pitted two camps against each other in what seems like a duel to death: one at Katonga Road office, where Dr Besigye’s ‘People’s Government’ operates, and another led by secretary general Nathan Nandala Mafabi at the party headquarters.
However, Mr John Kikonyogo, FDC’s deputy spokesperson, on Wednesday said while the hot exchanges have generated a lot of negative publicity, he is sure the party will ride out of the storm and emerge even stronger in the aftermath of the scandal.
“We are sorry to the country for what has been happening and the bad exchanges we have been having as party members. We are very sorry, but the good thing with FDC is there is nothing too big to be handled,” he said.
Mr Kikonyogo observed that the scandal has been bad because “we have washed our dirty linen in public but very good because we have got the best ever coverage of FDC since I became spokesperson”.
“The whole country is now listening to us and they now know what FDC is, even those who didn’t know,” he said.
Striking the same positive note was Ms Faridah Nangonzi, the secretary for women affairs in FDC.
Ms Nangozi compared the chaos to a typical family disagreement between a husband and wife, but which does not necessarily end in divorce.
To her, once tempers cool down, the warring factions will sit at a roundtable and sort their issues out.
“We shall not allow people to move in separate directions,” she said, adding, “what we shall do as members of the National Council is to push for reconciliation. We need to be frank and tell ourselves the truth, which will set everyone free”.
Ms Nangonzi proposes a cooling down period to allow frayed tempers settle, during which time neutral and credible senior members in the elders forum can consider what disciplinary options are available as a punishment for whoever will be found culpable of wrongdoing.
“Once that elders forum is formed, then whoever is making chaos will be subjected to disciplinary measures, and hopefully, that committee won’t take sides. We shall look for our retired bishops, teachers and other senior citizens because you cannot have someone who still has interest in politics,” she said.
Former Obongi County MP Hassan Kaps Fungaroo, who now runs the party’s mobilisation docket, said while what is happening in his party is unfortunate, the issues are resolvable.
“The [scandal] has painted a very bad picture of FDC and is making my work very difficult in terms of organisation and mobilisation. I cannot operate well when members are divided and not focusing as one family. However, all is not lost. There is still hope,” he said.
Mr Fungaroo observed that the unrest in FDC is not unique to the party, but is emblematic of a general trend in all liberation movements – where they all go through a period of confusion that ultimately defines them, emerging stronger.
“My appeal to the people who seemed to have re-aligned themselves to the two groups is that let them be mindful of the future; mindful of the direction we are supposed to take as a country and party. These quarrels will come to an end if they are focused on the issues without personal attacks,” he added.
The official indicated that at the end of the day, there is more that unites the Opposition group than divides its members, which is a key building block for progress.
For instance, he said, planning for the upcoming grassroots’ structure elections ahead of the November 2023 national delegates conference, which will choose FDC’s new top leaders, calls for consensus.
“If the agreement is to extend the term of the current leadership under Patrick Amuriat, let the focus be there; if it is to go for delegates conference as planned, let the focus be there, but we should not abuse each other and cause chaos,” he said.
Ms Lucy Akello, the Amuru District Woman MP, said the best way to sort this issue is to take it out of the media and for the two factions to talk, observing that it was wrong for them to go public and begin trading accusations.
“Let both Besigye and Nandala factions take this out of the media, go and sit somewhere and talk these issues out. Taking this to the public will not solve the problem, but instead worsen it,” she said.
Former Rukungiri Municipality MP Roland Kaginda Mugume, who now holds the position FDC vice chairperson in western Uganda, intimated that there are plans to convene another National Council meeting in mid-September.
Mr Mugume said “we are asking the owners of the party represented by the delegates to decide on the way forward… because in many districts, [grassroots] elections have not taken place”.
Earlier this week, Mr Boniface Bamwenda, the FDC electoral commission chairperson had suggested that the final date for elections of grassroot structures will be on August 18.
However, Mr Kaginda on Wednesday said there is no need to rush because there must be consensus on the way forward.
“We don’t have to rush because this is our party. There is no one putting pressure that we should finish on [August] 18. No. It is our party and we are the ones guiding it and we must revise whatever we were doing so that we move together as a team,” he said.
We are sorry to the country for what has been happening and the bad exchanges we have been having as party members. We are very sorry, but the good thing with FDC is there is nothing too big to be handled,” Mr John Kikonyogo, FDC’s deputy spokesperson