NRM, FDC in Political Hoops and Hurdles

By Ofwono Opondo

June, 28, 17

On my part, I am happy that FDC lost the Kyadondo East bye-election even though the NRM didn’t win either because not only does the loss keep FDC numbers in parliament low, it is also a major demoralising blow to its political grandiose. Clearly, Kizza Besigye found himself in a self-inflicted dilemma between supporting Apollo Katinti the FDC candidate or Bobi Wine (Robert Kyagulanyi), the independent, and chose to campaign for Katinti.
A victory by Sitenda Sebalu, the NRM candidate who previously held the larger Kyadondo East constituency was pipe dream because he had long running issues and visibly problematic, although not publicly and officially admitted.
During the campaigns Besigye [FDC] obviously hoped that Thursday would bring some smiles on his face if FDC retained the seat so that he could claim absolute legitimacy, relevance and victory, and perhaps continue with political venom. At public rallies Besigye told supporters how NRM was the “enemy” and that Katinti was a victim of political ‘mischief’, and therefore should be returned to complete his term. With seven parliamentary bye-elections done so far, FDC is yet to win any, while NRM boasts of five. Preliminary reports point to a major voter turn up especially the youths, and that should send all major political parties scratching heads because they are failing to speak to youth issues and offer immediate hope.
The FDC honchos, Besigye, Mugisha Muntu, and Leader of Opposition Parliament Winnie Kizza campaigned so hard for their ousted MP Katinti, and lost so miserably coming in distant third, and so must face the new political reality as they lick wounds. As the English would say, the Kyadondo bye-election has left FDC and NRM with wet egg on their face.
Apparently, instead of telling the voters the strength of FDC as a party, and Katinti as candidate, the trio underestimated the voters’ intelligence, and dwelt more on the presumed failures of NRM, government and President Museveni.
Just what more false excuse will Besigye give following Katinti’s thrashing at his backyard is what observers wait to hear, hopefully he faces reality rather than cry foul play by NRM.
Since parliamentary bye-elections kicked off this season following the deaths of two MPs, Cyrus Amodoi (Toroma) and Logiel Annie (Moroto woman MP), and five ordered by the Court of Appeal, FDC has taken massive hits non-stop, and that should be spelling doom for it.
Although the Uganda media often describes FDC as the ‘largest’ opposition party in Uganda, readers ought to be reminded that in fact FDC isn’t that large as it has only thirty five MPs out of 449 in the current (10th) parliament, or just 8%.
These electoral losses, and the fact FDC isn’t offering credible challenge to the NRM government on the parliament floor should invariably compel its leaders to rethink their immediate political priorities. Unfortunately, they are acting like the proverbial ostrich that hides its head in the sand.
During the first bye-elections for the Pader district woman MP, FDC was forced to withdraw its preferred candidate because it sensed defeat having failed to build consensus which again happened in Kyadondo East. It is becoming clearer that FDC’s political thirst and peril is set to be longer than its leaders originally anticipated. FDC has hoped that perhaps with the economic hardships Ugandans are facing, it could stoke public electoral anger to its advantage as was the case in 2011-16 when it gained marginal grounds in the by-elections.
In fact, FDC is facing a possible rebellion as it heads into internal party election later this year to change leadership, and so the reality is that FDC won’t be in position to effectively counter NRM in parliament. That will not be its priority!
Even harder to imagine is how FDC leaders who are used to spreading lies will now keep their followers and activists animated and engaged. The mood is likely to harden against Muntu’s already spineless leadership. It appears that the message from the electoral doorstep is that FDC supporters and undecided voters are fed up of the grand lies FDC has been spewing.
By denying FDC victory, voters have given NRM a strong mandate to focus and deliver on the critical issues of healthcare, education, infrastructure, employment and wealth creation, and to spend less time arguing with a noisy opposition, and many hope that the NRM is listening.
The FDC tainted pro-change tide that made so much running in the last two general election cycles may have reached its limits, and if that is so, the Kyadondo East bye-election results may have marked not just the recognition or new political reality but a watershed as well.
The public is tired of gimmicks. Unfortunately FDC will not change unless forced to. Opposition supporters must make that happen because they have the power according to what Besigye has been saying lately, and it’s time for them to use it.
Now that FDC and Besigye have lost the Kyadondo East fight, it could be the beginning of the end. They have had a journey in the political wilderness where NRM and voters have exiled them and with this, they continue on the road of despair where they can find comfort.