POLLING 393 VOTES (50.6%), Gen. Mugisha Muntu was declared winner of the FDC party presidential race. He beat close rival Nathan Nandala Mafabi who got 360 votes (46%). Geoffrey Ekanya trailed with 17 votes (2.2%). The two losers gracefully accepted defeat and vowed to rally behind Gen. Muntu to build a stronger party. But they didn’t concede without raising a finger. Ekanya said Secretary General Alice Alaso’s failure to publish the register on time created some credibility problems for the process which must be rectified in future. Nandala was characteristically even more direct in his complaint.
Whereas he congratulated Muntu whom he described as a very strong candidate, Nandala accused Alaso of personally discrediting the process by abusing the proxy arrangement through which the absentee delegates representing the Diaspora were required to delegate people to vote in their name. These had to be cleared by Alaso as Secretary General. Nandala claimed the Teso politician abused this arrangement in the end, saying between 6-8 votes were irregularly cast and added onto the final tally.
He didn’t tell for whom these were cast but nevertheless he said Muntu was the winner and was going to be his party president for the next two years up to 2014. Muntu’s victory sparked wild jubilation which saw some party members like Alaso shed tears of joy. Muntu’s aide Ibrahim Kasozi collapsed during the victory procession inside the hall and had to be rushed out.
He was yet to regain his senses at the time of writing this story. He has backed Muntu thrice for the slot of party president. Earlier in the day, Joyce Sebugwawo, another fanatical Muntu supporter attacked Col Besigye, Sam Njuba and Jack Sabiiti; rebuking them for not doing enough to restrain Nandala’s agents from making personal attacks on pro-Muntu MPs.
A number of factors buoyed Muntu into victory. All candidates brought their wives but Muntu simply stood out: his pretty wife who works as Country Director for African Development Bank in Mauritius was simply too hot.
The sight of a very styled up couple no doubt swung a few undecided voters in Muntu’s favour. His speech was simply the best: he was eloquent, accommodative, composed and reconciliatory despite provocative utterances Nandala’s agents kept hurling. His speech, in which he paid glowing tribute to Col Kizza Besigye saying he had known him as selfless for the last 30 years, harnessed the political capital he had accumulated at the WBS debate three days earlier. Besides using his 30 minutes to clarify wild allegations previously levelled against him such as being a mole, Muntu used the speech to reach out to his rivals saying “this isn’t about me, my brother Nathan or Geoffrey but about our party.” He also dispelled reports that he is weak or soft, wondering how he would lead such a fractured UPDF force of 100,000 officers and men for a straight 10 years. As usual, he recited his usual “by the grace of God” line which excited many. He also made several Kiswahili statements saying he is a soldier and knows when to apply his military credentials. Besigye’s neutrality was key: many claimed he was for Nandala but there was no evidence and there is no way Nandala would use Besigye’s name to get votes.
The man from Rukungiri in fact in his speech reprimanded the trio for coming late for the conference: they found him midway through his speech. Nandala’s speech somewhat betrayed him. He spoke for 30 minutes but many delegates felt his speech didn’t address what they felt were the relevant issues at the conference. He said many have dismissed him as a villager “but I don’t deny I’m a villager and vote me your fellow villager.” He also threw some barbs at especially Muntu, like he did at the WBS debate, which many felt was unnecessary since in his earlier speech, Muntu had extended an olive branch. There were also fears that Nandala would, in an effort to purge FDC of alleged NRM moles, kill it off just like DP and UPC sunk to oblivion.
As we had been reporting earlier, Nandala never won over key game changers like Buganda’s Joyce Sebugwawo, majority MPs, Francis Atugonza, Patrick Baguma and Jackson Wabyona in Bunyoro. It had been expected Salaam Musumba would boost his campaign but she was also busy with the Kamuli by-elections. In fact she came around, cast her vote and went away: perhaps she rightly realises she needs everybody to campaign for her in Kamuli. John Kikonyogo played a very big role in Nandala’s camp but delegates kept saying he is the man who onetime worked with Beti Kamya to antagonize FDC after Suleiman Kiggundu’s death. Nandala’s perceived backers amongst senior leaders didn’t come out openly: they include Yusuf Nsibambi, Garuga Musinguzi, Sam Njuba and others.
In contrast, Muntu’s supporters like Alaso, Sebugwawo and others didn’t take chances. They openly campaigned their man pakalast. NEC members also sealed Nandala’s fate: they are over 120 and majority of them were openly hostile to the man from east because they feel he is too strict. This same group ganged up to defeat Nandala-backed Salaam Musumba during the EALA primaries. MPs closely worked with NEC to conspire against Nandala. NEC members painted such a bad picture of Nandala to the extent of claiming he had ferried hundreds of kanyamas or bouncers from Mbale who were outside Namboole waiting to undress party officials in case he had won. Nandala strangely also lacked unanimous support from his home area.
For instance snoops saw several delegates from Mbale running to Muntu and Dr. Patrick Wakidda asking to be protected from pro-Nandala bouncers who they claimed were out waiting to beat them up. Mariam Nagudi, the former FDC woman MP candidate for Mbale woman MP, was among those who sought protection saying Nandala’s boys had vowed to beat up her up. Mbale Deputy Mayor Zanubia Namutamba too was hiding saying she was going to be killed by Nandala’s boys outside the venue who it was claimed, were being supervised by the other two FDC MPs from Sironko.
As for the FDC’s future the trio predicted a stronger party: Muntu spoke of what he called “three fronts but one cause” whereby Besigye will concentrate on what Muntu called civic action of fighting NRM on the street while he (Muntu) builds party structures.
Nandala will remain LoP and his main occupation is going to be galvanizing MPs to push through electoral reforms to ensure the ground is levelled in 2016. To demonstrate that “the struggle has just begun,” Nandala said his next destination was Kween district where he will camp up to November 29th when there is a by-election in which the FDC candidate is running against his own father who is the NRM candidate. Muntu said the “one cause three fronts” formula will ensure FDC sweeps all electoral positions come 2016. Watch out for more on the FDC elections in our subsequent editions.