Kampala. The former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party president, Maj Gen (Rtd) Mugisha Muntu, yesterday announced that a new political party is in the offing and it will be launched before Christmas.
He told a press conference in Kampala that he made the initial decision to quit the party in 2015 due to infighting and intrigue, but stayed on hoping the problems could be resolved through internal engagement.
This never happened, he noted. Current FDC president Patrick Amuriat defeated him last year in the race to lead the party, two years after founding party president Kizza Besigye trounced him to be the flag bearer in the 2016 presidential election.
Some FDC leaders and activists claim that the two-star general was incompetent and the ruling NRM’s mole and his departure, which they welcome, shows him as a bad loser.
Asked by our reporter at yesterday’s press conference whether his exit, based on his characterisation by critics, now means that he has finished his mission of an undercover agent inside FDC, Muntu responded:
“There is no time when I have ever campaigned within FDC when I was not called a mole. I was called a mole even when I went to the bush [to fight in the guerilla war that brought President Museveni to power in 1986]. There is going to be a time when people will be shocked when they know who the mole is.”
He added: “Integrity is one of the most central values of my existence as a human being. When we agree, we agree. When we disagree, we disagree and I tell you so.”
Although it is evident Gen Muntu and a number of his associates within FDC have jumped ship, their landing destination remained hazy by last evening because he said they were still in a transitional political vehicle, baptised New Formation, pending determination of the name and symbols of the planned new party.
Their departure should afford FDC the leeway to re-organise and re-strategise without suspicion and unimpeded, having remained polarised on whether to power the party on the rails of defiance or building grass-root organisational structures.
He also addressed wide-ranging issues, among them ironically the need for Opposition actors to work together if they have to defeat President Museveni.
New party details
The new party is planned to be unveiled before Christmas, this year. The current political outfit heralding arrangements for the birth of the new political party has been christened amorphously as the New Formation.
Its central purpose is to galvanise like-minded Ugandans and partners and poach from existing political organisations and ruling party’s moderates.
The planned party’s website is up and running, has a rented office in Bukoto, a city suburb and hub for civil society organisations. The paper work for registration is done, a source said, and the symbol is likely to be a watch.
Some FDC leaders began undermining him upon his election to replace founding President, Dr Kizza Besigye, in 2012.
It, for instance, took him one-and-a-half years before he met Nandala Mafabi whom he had defeated. Then rumours began whirling that he was a mole, culimating in his defeat by Mr Amuriat in November 2017.
Gen Muntu has set his eyes on building a strong opposition through partnerships with existing parties and political group, including courting leaders in Democratic Party, Justice Forum (Jeema) and the People Power pressure group.
He had rallied under the still-birth The Democratic Alliance, which had planned to front ex-premier Amama Mbabazi as a joint Opposition candidate in 2016.
Having been beaten twice, in 2010 and 2015, to become FDC presidential lag bearer in 2011 and 2016 elections, Gen Muntu said yesterday that eyeing Uganda’s presidency is no longer his core motivation.
“Unless I am eyeing the flag for psychological purposes or to put it on my curriculum vitae that I held a flag,” he said.
The two-star general said he has traditionally been opposed to power sharing arrangement and if any was, for whatever reason broached up in Uganda, he would as an individual not participate.
Uganda’s problem is not power, but meaningful change with positive impact on citizens’ welfare.
Extends olive branch
In spite of holding a diametrically-opposed view on strategy with FDC ideologues, Gen Muntu said he was amenable to working with the party if required to achieve a greater good for the country.
With former MPs populating the interim New Formation outfit as kingpins, Gen Muntu extended open arms to welcome new arrivals from leaders elected on the ticket of other political parties.
He also plans to poach moderate members of the ruling NRM as well as inspire and attract undecided registered voters who do not cast the ballot yet they, for instance, outnumber the votes President Museveni garnered for election. Present at the press conference were elected current or former leaders from different parts of the country.
Principled, with integrity
He is not on sale, the two-star general underlined rather forcibly. “Integrity is one of the most central values of my existence as a human being. When we agree, we agree. When we disagree we disagree and I tell you so,” Gen Muntu said.
No meeting Museveni
He denies allegations of holding clandestine meeting with the President, saying they last had such tête-à-tête was at Nakasero State Lodge in 2004.
Gen Muntu touts himself as the only serving army commander to have ever told Gen Museveni to his face, in 1996, to abdicate power to safeguard his legacy.
Counsel to FDC
The former FDC president said his departure should create the flexibility for his successor Patrick Amuriat “to rebrand (FDC) because the people he is going to remain with believe in one strategy [of defiance]”.
The web portal www.newformation.ug has been unveiled for prospective members of the planned party to register online. It also will serve as a platform to capture promoters’ data and consultations ahead of the launch of the new party.
Feat in FDC
Gen Muntu told journalists that during his time as a secretary for mobilisation and president, he helped build internal democracy in the FDC. He said that, at the time of his departure, members have known how to compete for party positions and primary elections for political positions across the country.
What Muntu’s allies said
Former Leader of Opposition in Parliament Winnie Kiiza: “There is a new wave in the political landscape of the country and the key political players must be allowed to take the necessary decisions and choices.”
Alice Alaso, former Serere Woman MP: “The choice to serve in a political capacity is a tough one and it is even tougher when you are in the Opposition as you will carry personal risks to you and the family.”
Ntungamo Municipality MP, Gerald Karuhanga: “What Gen Muntu has told the country today is a new path that will take the people of Uganda to victory. This is the way to liberate the country.”
Bonny Tumuranze, FDC mobiliser, Kigezi region
“We welcome the new party. Those remaining in FDC must build from there. It is dangerous to keep with colleagues fighting you.”
Jackson Wabyona, FDC chairman, Hoima
“This is the time to provide an alternative for the millions of Ugandans who have not been coming to vote for Dr Besigye and President Museveni. This is new hope.”
Nyakato Rusoke, FDC chairperson, Kabarole
“Our colleagues thought defiance is the best strategy and forgot about building internal party cohesion.”