Across the country, political players are jostling for new alliances, mending broken old ones and breaking up fragile ones with just about a year and a half to the much-anticipated 2021 general elections.
For Robert Kyagulanyi’s People Power and Dr Kizza Besigye’s People’s Government, the road to forming a united front against President Museveni in the run-up to 2021 has gotten bumpy. They are talking about fielding a single candidate but they are agreeing on few things.
On the other hand, the once cosy relationship between Bobi Wine and the DP-block has turned sour. The DP-block brings together Democratic Party loyalists allied to Norbert Mao, the Social Democratic Party [SDP] of former Makindye East MP Michael Mabikke, Truth and Justice led by former presidential candidate Samuel Walter Lubega Mukaaku and former presidential candidate Abed Bwanika’s People’s Development Party [PDP].
In the past, Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine has been close to the newly formed Alliance for National Transformation promoted by Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu. However, sources within these political camps told this newspaper that ever since Bobi Wine cozied up to Besigye and his People’s Government, his relationship with his first allies hit rock bottom.
“It has been some time since he last spoke to Gen Muntu. I think he thought he would use his infrastructure to ride to the presidency. But I don’t see Muntu supporting Kyagulanyi because honestly that would be an insult. Many of us in the party don’t see Bobi Wine as presidential material,” a person close to Muntu said.
Equally, the DP-block expected to use Kyagulanyi as a spring board to leapfrog FDC from its perch as the most popular opposition political party. However, one person close to the Kyadondo East MP said the legislator realised he was being taken advantage of by DP.
Addressing a weekly press conference at the party headquarters at City House in the city centre, Norbert Mao, the DP president general, flanked by Mabikke, Mukaaku and Bwanika said only DP has given Kyagulanyi a platform.
“We decided to give Bobi Wine a platform as DP for the nation to see him and it’s only us who have been giving him the platform everywhere we have gone because the police stopped him from singing and it doesn’t allow him to hold political rallies...,” Mao said.
“Now you hear them say that DP is fighting Robert Kyagulanyi. Those who used to fight him are the ones who have changed...As the DP–block we don’t need to sign any agreement with Robert Kyagulanyi because we are part of him and he is part of us; we are on the same side,” Mao added.
But speaking to this reporter, a Kyagulanyi confidant who declined to be named, said the musician-cum- politician lost trust in the DP-block.
“It’s hard to separate between NRM and DP’s Mao. Mao is the man you will sit with and agree on something and in the morning he does the exact opposite of what you agreed upon. We sat with him till late in the night and agreed that DP will not be supporting a candidate both in Kyadondo East and Arua municipality; in the morning, he was busy nominating DP candidates,” the source said.
“DP thought they would use Kyagulanyi for their selfish interests to support their candidates so the party can emerge as the largest opposition party. They also wanted us to fight their battles but in the end they realised we were onto something else.”
GRIDLOCK WITH BESIGYE
As Kyagulanyi began to fall out with old allies, he sought new alliances that would strengthen his presidential bid come 2021. The mending of fences between Besigye and Kyagulanyi was publicly announced early in May after the two signed a memorandum of understanding.
The two camps have since met three times to agree on a roadmap on how the relationship will be cemented, going forward. Besigye leads his camp into the negotiations, which includes; Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, Mukono municipality MP Betty Nambooze, former Lubaga South MP John Ken Lukyamuzi, FDC president Patrick Amuriat Oboi and FDC national chairman Wasswa Biriggwa.
The People Power camp is led by Kyagulanyi, Busiro East MP Medard Lubega Sseggona, Kassanda North MP Patrick Nsamba Oshabe, Bugiri Municpality MP Asumani Basalirwa and People Power spokesperson Joel Senyonyi.
The Besigye camp, according to five people familiar with the meetings are trying to convince Bobi Wine to put his political ambitions on a leash until 2026.
They argue that his brand and political maturity need a lot of polishing. However, Bobi Wine insists that 2021 is his year; it’s either now or never.
“I will not lie to you, Kyagulanyi will be on the ballot in the next election. Those people in FDC have been trying to convince him to step down for Besigye as they prep him for 2026 but he flatly rejected that proposal, saying that this is his time. He says he never thought of himself being in this position but circumstances pushed him...” a source said.
“He doesn’t see himself in these things beyond 2021 if we don’t defeat Museveni. It’s either now or never because he says he is not interested in being a career politician,” the source added.
Another source said Bobi is getting a little fed up with toeing a fine political line.
“This is not my thing, I don’t want these boardroom meetings, and I’m not used to these suits or speaking with caution because you fear to offend a certain group of people...I want to put on my sagging jeans without fearing how somebody will react, I want to be with my family like I used to be, these things have taken away my life. This is the only opportunity for me to have a contribution; if we don’t defeat Museveni now, you guys be prepared to take over,” another Bobi Wine confidant quoted him as having told the Besigye camp.
We couldn’t interview Betty Nambooze about these talks. She was locked in marathon meetings the whole day. Every time we called, she asked us to call back later. However, two weeks ago she hit out at Abed Bwanika while appearing on her weekly talk show on CBS radio Parliament Yaffe.
She said Bwanika claims to be People Power insider yet when they met with the top 15 most senior members of the loose coalition he wasn’t among them.
For his part, Joel Senyonyi, the spokesperson of Kyagulanyi and People Power, said indeed they are talking with the People’s Government although he declined to divulge details.
“As People Power, we are in talks with all entities interested in change including Dr Besigye and People’s Government, ANT, DP-Block, Jeema and others. We hope to have a united front as we head to 2021,” Senyonyi said.