The Opposition in Uganda faces a daunting task of ensuring it sticks as a whole lest the fate which befell it in 2011 surfaces.
With Kizza Besigye celebrating yet another victory against Mugisha Muntu, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) faces a problem of putting its divergent members back on board to embrace one candidate.
This coordination of the warring parties within the party is crucial for the success of The Democratic Alliance (TDA) where Dr Besigye hopes to come out as the sole candidate. The party appears divided over whether it should insist on the adoption and implementation of comprehensive electoral reforms before the polls.
This position is much preferred by the flag bearer Dr Besigye though seen by many in the party and TDA as a stale move. Mr Muntu argues that the opposition must be more pragmatic in its strategies against the ruling NRM party.
This and Dr Besigye’s surprise decision to run for the party’s flag despite a previous lack of interest has shaken the party’s harmony, which it had somewhat regained only recently after the one and half years of turbulence that followed the 2012 contest for the party presidency.
Evidence of turbulence, such as, on August 31 when Amanya Mushega, the party’s former vice president in western Uganda, wrote a scathing open letter to Dr Besigye in the Daily Monitor spell doom for the permissiveness of the opposition.
Mr Mushega refers to Dr Besigye as an “ingrate” because of his purported failure to appreciate other people who have also struggled to bring about democratic change in Uganda.
To rectify this, analysts say Dr Besigye needs to reach out in a pacifying manner in both speech and action, and also offer camp to doubtful officers within the party.
Dr Besigye’s insistence on elections after reforms, a handful of which parliament recently passed, had been variously interpreted as a call to boycott the polls.
He laboured to clarify himself at the party delegates’ conference on Wednesday, September 2, where he was overwhelmingly voted in as the flag bearer. He polled 718 votes while Mr Muntu got 289 votes.
“They say Besigye is going to boycott. If you give him the flag he will not run in the election… We shall definitely run for the next election. [But] We must fight for our reforms before the next election,” said Dr Besigye at Namboole National Stadium.
Although Mr Muntu is not opposed to the demand for reforms, he said more emphasis should be placed on building and strengthening the party’s organisational capabilities. Only then can FDC, and indeed the entire opposition, hope to wrestle power from President Yoweri Museveni.
“President Museveni does not fear Dr Besigye or former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi. He does not fear any leader seated here. Why? Because he knows where there is division there is weakness,” Mr Muntu told the same delegates at Namboole National Stadium.