Sunday, May 21, 2023

It’s not usual, especially in the Ugandan culture to write an obituary for one still alive even when terminally ill. Relatives, friends and well-wishers could come kicking dust on your face protesting and cursing although that doesn’t save their patient. The serial electoral defeats the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has suffered since 2005, and its displacement by NUP in 2021 as the supposed main opposition party has consigned the once firebrand group to a marginal outfit, and many would add, perhaps without a clear direction. 

In a parliament of 329, FDC has only 29 MPs mostly subdued, probably contemplating their own demise as they maintain a demilitarized zone from NUP. Listening to the current political throb-beat, one cannot fail to notice the dead silence from every FDC corner as its leaders seem to have lost their luster of yesteryears, except perhaps Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda on publicity trip. 

The serial failure since inception in 2005 to expand representation in parliament and local government countrywide creates an uphill task for FDC to regain its national profile. The hay days of Kizza Besigye, Nandala Mafabi, and Patrick Oboi Amuriat as opposition knights is fast receding beyond recognition. With the massive expanse of the NRM in northern Uganda, Teso, Kasese and West Nile previously FDC strongholds on account of the hardships wrought during armed rebellion, the maths are becoming harder. Amuriat walking in the shadows of Besigye, and having inherited the barren landscape from Mugisha Muntu remains a diminished persona. 

With the desertion by top leaders from western Uganda-Muntu, Musinguzi, Wycliffe Bakandonda, Amanya Mushega, Augustine Ruzindana, John Kazoora, Jack Sabiiti, and Athanasius Rutaro among others, there’s a huge mountain for FDC to climb from base. Looking at UPC and DP, it may not be mission impossible, but history suggests it’s bloody difficult to recover.

FDC no longer has any region to call its stronghold even when there is evident fury against NRM over its many failures and excesses for which only NUP appears to be a temporary beneficiary. Yet NUP, more as a tribal outfit is clambering a rough rock face while Muntu the ever forward-looking optimist keeps talking about restoring sanity, normalcy, integrity and truth in politics but hasn’t gained traction. FDC megaphones in the media, terrified and stalked by constant nightmare will try the old scarecrow tactics with how NRM has been a disaster but they are likely to end up in deeper holes they have been digging over the past two decades.

And the coalition of chaos they have tried to broker is much a primal fear, and no one will see Besigye, Amuriat or Nandala getting imprisoned in the tiny pocket of a cavalier Robert Kyagulanyi, when they each habour a mutually shared contempt towards one another, the reason they keep deflecting questions about each other not as a compliment but in trepidation.

FDC, NUP, DP, UPC and ANT will not be able to focus resources and cobble a formula for tactical fielding of candidates or voting to avoid pointless competition although each would like to evict NRM, and especially Museveni who they say is the main stump on their road. DP and UPC know how they both eviscerated at end of five years when they lent support to Besigye’s Reform Agenda from 2001 to 2006 when he lied to them that he had the mettle to dislodge Museveni, and NUP knows it could meet the same fate if it entered into cohabitation.

With Norbert Mao now in NRM cabinet, it’s hard seeing how he successfully outmaneuvers the guerillas who pay attention to every detail, and that fight hide-seek. In the absence of a time machine, no one can exactly tell what the numbers will look like in 2026, but nevertheless NRM still appears ahead even when you may not wish it well.

It’s perhaps time to consider preparing an epitaph for the once boisterous and belligerent FDC gangster leaders who believed they could insult their way to state power but have ended providing lessons on how to lose allies and influence. As a result, FDC leaders have miserably failed in their over-stated mission to remove Museveni and NRM but hopefully, have now come to terms with reality as we prepare for its deserved political funeral.

With the extremely poor results of the 2021 elections from presidency down the ballot to local councils, and now the strings of bye-election losses reduces Amuriat’s posture as a capable mobiliser and leader, and surely many FDC members are grieving quietly, angry and in a rebellious mood for change with Nandala as the man to watch in the impending internal elections, which could cause a split.

While many Ugandans might think that the NRM hasn’t done enough to alleviate the current cost of living, they accept that much of the problem has roots outside Uganda. However, the NRM shouldn’t be permitted to shirk its responsibility. It must correct the mistakes it has made and continues to make if it wants genuine acceptance and better performance in 2026.