Internal disagreements in the Forum for Democratic Change seem to be reaching another level with the party’s National Chairman Sam Njuba saying he has no desire to preside over a divided party.
Sounding disappointed, the veteran politician on Wednesday wrote to Party President Mugisha Muntu and other members just two days before the party’s scheduled Interim National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting. The NEC meeting earlier set for Friday, has however been called off at the last minute, with Secretary General Alice Alaso saying most of the members were busy.
But Njuba’s letter appears to show the fragile nature of Uganda’s biggest opposition party at the moment.
The meeting had been called following demands by Nandala Mafabi, who lost to Muntu in the November 2012 party elections, called for new consultations over the party presidency position. Two camps emerged after the party polls. While Mafabi’s camp pushed for fresh elections, the Muntu camp was opposed to the idea. Njuba as party chairman wanted the two groups to reconcile and build the party together.
The National chairman said he did not attend the meeting that requested for further consultation because he would have definitely declined its membership.
Njuba states that he does not think he has any useful contribution to add which he has not made already. After setting up the tribunal whose report was handed over to the party, Njuba says the last time he addressed NEC he stressed that what he looked forward to was not to apportion blame, but to have one united and strong party.
A disappointed Njuba states that he has no desire to preside over a divided party and recommends that since they are in charge and are not about to abandon ship, they should bring or recall the entire NEC membership as it was just before the election in 2012.
Njuba, who until 2011 was the Member of Parliament for Kyadondo East, says that despite the fact that the term of NEC expired, it would command the confidence of all party members.
In his reflections on the expired NEC, Njuba states that while he agrees that the old NEC elected along with former party President Dr. Kiiza Besigye did expire in February 2013, he does not share the view that there were any exceptions emphasizing the fact that the entire NEC is no more.
According to Njuba, the claims that party members such as MPs may continue as residual NEC has no merit because during the November elections what was done was put in place NEC for a term of 4 years. The MPs who happen to be members of NEC stand eligible for election on the next NEC, but cannot continue to claim to be NEC.
The former minister of justice and constitutional affairs in the early years of President Museveni’s government adds that under the party constitution, these cases of members of NEC who have served two terms such as the Treasurer Jack Sabiiti and Secretary General Alice Alaso cease to be eligible to serve in the same positions.
He questions how the same people can carry on as if they are above the constitution and demands that the legal team address this area.
Njuba stated that Muntu now presides over an Interim NEC and also questions how he can accept this title almost a year after the elections. In his view he thinks it would be better if the old NEC was reconstituted and appropriately referred to it as “Interim” in a revolutionary style.
The National chairman appeals to Muntu to be bold and decisive, and summon the entire old NEC. He also wants the party president to consider the amendments of the areas recommended by the commission and then prepare for the grassroots election.
He also appeals to the party to consider that its president is elected at the time the flag bearer is elected.
On the same day the letter was written, the FDC party Electoral Commissioner Dan Mugarura also responded that the leaders must hurry to put aside differences in opinions and start mobilizing for grass-root structure building.
Mugarura noted that FDC is losing momentum and Ugandans are beginning to wonder if they really are a credible alternative to the ruling NRM.
Mugisha Muntu also responded stating that he had fully noted the issues raised in Njuba’s letter and that he would come and discuss the contents when he returns to Kampala.
Amanya Mushega the party Vice President also wrote wondering what “crisis” needed to be resolved.
He asked who the protagonists are and if they were not building a mountain out of an anthill, calling for a meeting between the top leaders so as to speak frankly.
He continues to ask what it is that is holding them apart if it is not dishonesty and 2016 elections.
Wafula Ogutu, the party spokesperson described as unfortunate the party’s failure to pay attention to Njuba’s advice and instead hold on to what he called uncompromising hard-line and legalistic positions.