Incoming Leader of Opposition in Parliament Wafula Oguttu has revealed the behind-the-scenes events leading up to his appointment last week.
Speaking to local media on Monday, the Bukhooli Central Member of Parliament said he protested his appointment in an argument with Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Party President Maj.Gen Mugisha Muntu.
Wafula, who until his appointment on Friday was FDC spokesperson, says that just after midday on Thursday, he received a phone call from Gen Muntu inviting him for a meeting at the Inter-party cooperation (IPC) offices on Katonga road.
While at Katonga road, Wafula says he was asked to comment about the FDC work in Parliament and individual performances of FDC MPs which he did in 30 minutes.
According to Wafula he thought this information was going to guide Muntu in his selection of the new Leader of Opposition. Muntu then told Wafula that he was going to speak to him about two things, but should first promise not to tell anybody else.
Later in the afternoon, Muntu and Wafula went to attend the Opposition Party Presidents meeting and after, Muntu asked Wafula what he had decided. Wafula again said no, but Muntu insisted he should sleep over it.
In the night, Augustine Ruzindana, a party elder and secretary for research, also tried to persuade Wafula but the Bukhooli Central MP declined. Wafula, who never supported Muntu during the November 2012 elections and has been open about what he calls Muntu’s under performance as Party President, was then told to be at the party headquarters the next day at 8:30am.
The FDC party management meeting had a week earlier deferred the discussion on the replacement of Budadiri West MP as Leader of Opposition, with Muntu arguing that it would be wrong for the issue to be discussed in Nandala’s absence. He was out of the country at the time.
On Friday, Wafula turned up at FDC offices in Najjanankumbi for the management meeting during which Muntu communicated his decision to drop Nandala and replace him with his friend Wafula. This came as a shocker to almost everybody in the room. While many expected Muntu to drop Nandala, they never viewed Wafula as a candidate.
As soon as Muntu announced that he had nominated Wafula, the room fell silent for three minutes. Alice Alaso, the FDC Secretary General who had already mobilized the MPs from Teso region, was hoping it was going to be a vote which she would win. Alaso’s group was left dumb-founded in both the Management meeting and the National Executive Committee meeting that followed.
In both meetings, Wafula Oguttu was dressed down and described as an incompetent, weak and mean leader who lacks authority. Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu, who is the Opposition Shadow Attorney General, said he does not know where Wafula lives and the new Leader of Opposition had never bought them food.
In his defence Wafula says he is not a very social person, he is not pomp and never celebrates achievements and only goes to the rotary club on Friday. He is quick to add that he is not mean and has sacrificed a third of his income to people some of whom he does not know especially.
There have been worries that Wafula’s appointment may only break FDC and that Nandala would either form his own party or join the ruling NRM. Indeed, some of Nandala’s supporters in his home area yesterday announced that they were breaking away from FDC to form a new party. But according to Wafula, Nandala is going nowhere and there will be less division in Parliament among the Members of the opposition.
Muntu and Wafula are expected to reveal a new shadow Cabinet on Februry 12th. Wafula says they are going to select members of parties that can work with him.
However, both the Democratic Party and the Uganda People’s Congress have two factions in Parliament. These include individuals who are strong enough and MPs who are backed by their party. Wafula says he is ready to work with both sides.