Because of the democratic appeal overtime exemplified by Uganda’s leading opposition party – the FDC, its recent endeavor to pick its flag bearer for the forthcoming 2016 general election earned it a lot of credit.
Other than credibility, the exercise attracted a lot of national and international attention because it was a kind of referendum on whether Museveni’s military dictatorship should continue to hold Ugandans hostage or they should free themselves.
The two contestants in the race i.e. Col (Rtd) Dr. Kiiza Besigye and General (Rtd) Mugisha Muntu represented different schools of thought.
The former believes Museveni’s military dictatorship is so entrenched that it cannot be dislodged through a sham electoral exercise.
He strongly contends that unless the meaningful electoral reforms are put in place, its a waste of time and meaningless to participate in it.
Following his participation in the past sham electoral exercises, sometime back he had publicly declared that he would never take part in any other electoral process that is organised by the same military dictatorship.
However, recently he made a comeback by seeking to vie for the FDC flagbeareship – a move that his opponents attempted to exploit by branding him as being unprincipled.
To justify his comeback, he made it unequivocally clear that he was in the race purposely to push for electoral reforms ahead of the 2016 general elections as earlier presented to the regime under the banner of Citizens Compact.
Further, he argues that if electoral reforms are not put in place ahead of the 2016 general elections where Museveni will be both as a player and a referee, he intends to “stop the game by sitting in the pitch.”
This analogy implies that Dr. Besigye and those who believe in his school of thought intend to mobilize desperate Ugandans who are craving for change to reclaim their country through civil disobedience.
On the other hand, the Gen. Muntu school of thought argues that with strong organisation, even without political reforms the regime can be defeated in an election.
They further argued that they had built sufficient structures to steer the party to victory and was opposed to the Dr. Besigye line of thought.
It’s not that Gen. Muntu does not know that it’s impossible to dislodge the Museveni military dictatorship through an electoral process in its current form.
As Museveni’s former Army and Military Intelligence chief, he is more knowledgeable than anybody else that the military dictatorship and its rigging machinery (Police and the security forces) are so fused that a mere ballot paper as Museveni earlier on put it, cannot get him out of power.
The fact is that compared to Dr. Besigye, at the moment Gen. Muntu does not appeal to leading such a mass action.
However, he strongly believes it can work if well organised. This is what some sections of Ugandans misinterpreted by alleging that he was a Museveni Mole.
He is a great leader but only at a wrong time and place.
Therefore, it won’t be a surprise if sooner or later he fully tows the line of “No reforms, No elections”.
This is what he alluded to during his conceding speech when he stated that civil disobedience without proper organisation is bound to fail with dire consequences.
The regime is mindful of the existence of a fertile ground for change and Dr. Besigye’s resolve to lead that change.
Its against this background that after assessing the massive strength of support for Dr. Besigye in the country side, they abandoned their earlier plan to block Dr. Besigye from carrying the FDC flag in the hope that he would not only be diverted by the TDA into abandoning the push for electoral reforms but he would also be able contain the threat posed by Amama Mbabazi’s candidacy.
We are yet to see the accuracy of the regime’s estimates. However, they are not taking chances as they are busy preparing for plan “B” (intimidation, violence and bribery).
The said plan has of recent been boosted by the hastily promotion and retirement of Gen. Henry Tumukunde so that he takes over command of the 2016 election intimidation, violence, and bribery without legal hindrances of being a serving military officer.
Otherwise, Gen Henry Tumukende is still in active military service but only supposedly ‘retired’ in order to hoodwink Ugandans.
Therefore, the verdict by the FDC delegates conference was a determining factor for the future of Uganda.
Sarah Nalukenge, the author is a social and political commentator