I have been watching from a distance as things unfolded in Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), some of which have started showing an ugly head.
I opted to watch from the side lines because the party I subscribe to (People’s Progressive Party) believes in a completely different approach from those of FDC. Therefore, it has been practically impossible for the two parties to cooperate.
Nevertheless, I respect and value the contributions of FDC to the democratization process of Uganda. Recently, FDC went through a party presidential campaign which was climaxed with its 5th national delegates’ conference to elect its party president. The two frontrunners in the contest tailored their campaign message around two issues.
While eventual winner Patrick Amuriat Oboi (POA) was propagating the defiance approach, General Mugisha Muntu’s was organisation as an approach. Unfortunately, the two approaches seem to have created sharp divisions in the party which may endanger both the party itself and the opposition in general.
First, I wish to implore that adopting two approaches in any struggle, political or otherwise, is not a contradiction.
And just like ANC did during the fight against apartheid in South Africa, fighting dictatorship and oppression needs more than one approach.
To be precise, while South Africa’s ANC’s military wing was using firearms against the regime, it was at the same time organising the party internally. Yes, I strongly believe that organisation is better, by far, compared to defiance. But since FDC was built in the defiance DNA, both approaches should be applied by the party to consolidate its strength.
Whenever FDC is embroiled in differences, Dr Kizza Besigye, its four-time presidential flag bearer, is always alleged to be warping on the radical side.
To be categorical, I am one of those who wished him yesterday to support another person for the presidency; but it would be naïve for any person and FDC as a party to downplay his interest and influence in the affairs of the party, including the latest elections itself and the political affairs of the country.
This fact makes it pertinent for the party leadership to consolidate all their positions and approaches in one master plan that accommodates all members, rather than tearing each other apart, and thinking in terms of a third force.
Further, we should recognise that even strong political parties always have liberals and extremists (the leftists and the rightist).
For example, during last year’s Brexit debate and campaign, the conservative party in the UK had both those for and against Brexit.
But when the campaign ended, they regrouped to face new challenges together. So, unless we are fighting personal battles, I wouldn’t expect something that is not ideological but rather just an approach to derail the bigger objective.
In my view, FDC fairly demonstrated a strong democracy in its internal elections, save for the alleged use of money which was amplified by both candidates and Dr Besigye himself.
This good gesture, however, is under threat of being watered down if the two sides fail to embrace each other. And whereas the winners have an uphill task of gaining the confidence of the vanquished and reconciling the loosing team, the good practice of democracy and the principles of democrats that we always preface demand that we concede even where we think we unfairly lost.
Lastly, I strongly disagree with the notion to the fact that our multi-party dispensation has failed to take shape.
To me, what we are witnessing are raptures of labour pain which we are bound to go through. We just need to appreciate it as leaders, learn from our past experiences but also draw lessons from sister political parties in the Western world, then the rest shall be history.
Finally, all said and done, the ultimate solution to this political quagmire we are in as a country shall not come from one defiant individual or individuals, but it will depend on how organised and institutionalised our political parties shall be.
The author is the spokesperson and vice chairman of the People’s Progressive Party.