The opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) leadership is split over the best approach to take to dislodge President Yoweri Museveni from power.
Museveni was controversially declared the winner of this year’s general election by the Electoral Commission. NUP initially contested the results in a petition but later prematurely withdrew it. Now, its leadership is now faced with divergent approaches on how to proceed with the struggle to end Museveni’s rule.
The apparent clashes of opinion publicly played out yesterday Tuesday afternoon, during a memorial mass of one of the party’s activists Frank Ssentenza Kalibbala, who was knocked dead by a military truck at Busega roundabout during the campaign trail last year.
Alex Waiswa Mufumbiro, the deputy spokesperson of NUP used the platform at Kasanje village in the Nyendo-Mukungwe division, Masaka to castigate party leaders who obtained different leadership responsibilities in parliament and other levels. He said this was weakening their spirited political movement.
Mufumbiro argues that although the party supporters and the public are fully charged to cause a change of leadership in the country, NUP leaders have instead taken a back seat and have not appropriately fostered voices of change as represented among the electorate. He demands that leaders activate a confrontational method of work and an alternative approach to further weaken the NRM government.
“Frank didn’t die in pursuit of a political office, he never stood for any elective office, and neither did he harbour any thoughts of standing for any office, he just had a duty to liberate this country. That should guide us all in positions of office that this struggle was not about people occupying offices, but it was about liberating the country Uganda. It is fundamental for us to liberate our country Uganda. Personally, I have been in politics longer than some people trying to remove Museveni and I can tell you, we have never been more united as Ugandans than we’re united today. But sadly those in leadership positions have not fostered the voices of change the way we’re supposed to foster them. And this year, this function should be the cornerstone of lifting our voices in unison of fighting Gen Museveni,” said Mufumbiro.
Mufumbiro also wondered how the party can frustrate its supporters’ expectations, by simply looking on as two of their MPs Muhammad Ssegirinya and Allan Ssewanyana continue to languish in prison, on what he claims are politically motivated charges. The duo is facing murder and terrorism charges having been arrested back in September. When they were temporarily granted bail on September 20 by Masaka High court and released from prison, they were dramatically and violently re-arrested moments after stepping out of prison.
“How can Ssegirinya spend all those months in prison when we all know that he’s innocent and our leaders are just quiet in parliament occupying an office. Our leaders, you have to put up a bigger fight than the fight we’re seeing by our MPs. When they are still in prison, then the foot soldiers don’t know what is happening or what is to do. Once we see our leaders putting up some fight, I swear to you, we will definitely follow you because we have the numbers. We should never wait for Kyagulanyi to first command us. Mr Mpuuga you’re a good commander, command and you will see what we can do,” he said.
Mufumbiro made the statements amidst cheers from the crowd in the presence of the party secretary general David Lewis Rubongoya, the deputy president for Central Region and Leader of Opposition in Parliament Mathias Mpuuga Nsamba, and several party’s top notches including MPs.
But Mpuuga hastily hit back in disapproval of Mufumbiro’s confrontational approach of removing Museveni from power, saying they have preferred a more strategic approach of capturing other than creating false hope to the highly enthusiastic support base that is yearning for change.
Mpuuga indicated the current leadership is so committed to offering proper guidance and leadership of substance in the turbulent times when they are faced with a stubborn, ruthless, and a tough competitor capable of unleashing violence against his opponents.
On the other hand, Mpuuga cautioned the party leaders at all levels to desist from public confrontations, but rather seek the approach of internal dialogue to address their contradictions.
Contradictions within on the best approach to unseat Museveni from power is not novel to FDC. In the buildup and post-2016 general election period, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), which was the main opposition party at the time was faced with a similar dilemma.
During the tenure of Rtd Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, the party failed to agree on a common approach of taking on Museveni. Party members were torn between two divergent factions, with one believing in building and strengthening party structures from the grassroots as the other led by Rtd Col Kizza Besigye believed in defiance and confrontation.
The failure by the party leaders to agree in principal affected their much-needed cohesion and eventually split, which later led to the creation of a new political party; Alliance for National Transformation (ANT).