Mugisha Muntu; The Political Promise that Never Happened

By Ofwono Opondo

Jan, 30, 18

It is always said that  ”let your dreams be bigger than your fears, actions louder than words, and faith stronger than feelings,” but unfortunately, for former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) president, Maj. Gen. (rtd) Greg Mugisha Muntu, his political actions are so faint to blow out a candle. Soon after his ouster from the FDC presidency in November, 2017 elections, Muntu first left his admirers, critics and adversaries in suspense as to what his next political move would be.
In the immediate aftermath of that defeat, a meeting was convened in the house of former Serere woman MP, Alice Alaso in Kira Municipality to chat the way forward. The media quickly concluded the defeated group would quickly jump ship and form the so-called ‘third force’. That loss having sunk, although not completely, Muntu emerged grumpily to conduct what he described ‘nationwide broad consultations,” to inform his next moves, which the FDC officially distanced itself and wrote discouraging its members from associating with.   
Many analysts consider Muntu’s ‘consultations’, an ego trip into the political wildness, a kick of a dying horse against FDC and opposition elements led by Kizza Besigye, who he believes failed him as FDC president, and decampaigned him in favour of Patrick Amuriat Oboi. It was evident towards the final stretch of their campaigns that Muntu was politically wounded as he lashed his tongue out against anyone who crossed his path, and those who said he was a ‘mole’ bankrolled by President Museveni, or doubted his Ugandan ancestry. I believe that Muntu should have let these pass as idle talk.
Upon the founding of FDC in 2004, Muntu became its national secretary for mobilization before replacing Besigye as president in 2012. Therefore, Muntu has had sufficient time and space to prove his political capability as mobiliser, party builder, organiser and leader, and was tested but found wanting by FDC members hence the boot.
He began his ‘consultations’ in Hoima, Bunyoro, where he presumably could get a soft landing on account of marriage, seeking to recreate himself as a possible ‘third force’ after Besigye in Uganda’s presumed ongoing political re-alignment. His hopes, indeed underground strategy is to mobilise FDC dissenters, opposition by-standers, trembling feet in NRM, and political innocent minds especially youth to converge and coalesce as ‘liberal’ middle-roaders capable of decisively tilting the electoral balance of forces in the current partisan and arguably toxic politics. Information from the corridors of parliament points to him starting with the 25 FDC MPs who openly supported him during the recent FDC contest, and Muntu seems to read that a sizable number of Ugandans are disappointed with both NRM, and a decapitated opposition led by Besigye whose rancor seeks to drag Uganda backwards, particularly in democratic values underpinned by impeccable integrity. Muntu mistakenly and naively believes that all the 47 NRM leaning MPs who voted against lifting the presidential age, want to abandon association with NRM. Muntu is said to be cobbling an alliance called the National Democratic Movement (NDM), a precursor to a new political party with promises for political positions for each region in government so that each politician feel personally and their areas adequately  rewarded.
Both Muntu, and Besigye who hustled him out of FDC leadership have since 2001 tried to position themselves as former NRM insiders, and President Yoweri Museveni’s top protégés considering their relative young age of 31, and 32 years  at which they became army commander, and minister respectively. They had hoped to hoodwink the public that they understood Museveni’s weaknesses, able to penetrate his base, and capable of easily toppling him. However, two decades after being thrown off the wagon, none of the above they severally promised Ugandans has happened. They have miserably failed to penetrate Luwero Triangle, Ankole, Buganda, and war veterans which remain Museveni’s solid base. Their opportunistic attempts to capture and exploit constituencies formerly opposed to NRM and Museveni like West Nile, Acholi, Lango and Teso has crumbled. Museveni and NRM now hold a decisive upper hand in political popularity and acceptability as demonstrated in the last two presidential, parliamentary and local government elections.
Both having served at very high levels of government, decamped and led FDC for a decade and half without building a formidable opposition or dislodging Museveni,  it is, perhaps, time they know they have lived their welcome, now aged 60. By the next election in 2021 or 2023, they will be 65 year old men, not worth a vibrant presidency, especially if Museveni stretches his leadership till then.
Besigye has been slamming that President Museveni has held Uganda ‘hostage’, without apparently realizing that he, Besigye, has strangulated opposition politics for two decades now. Both Besigye and Muntu seem to suffer self righteous and false sense of entitlement to lead Ugandans after President Museveni, which we must reject. And while many Ugandans think that DP and UPC, currently led by Norbert Mao, and Jimmy Akena respectively are in political coffins with lid half opened, the NRM perhaps needs rebooting like a computer.