This is evidenced by the deep divisions, resulting into accusations and finger pointing, not seen in the history of Uganda opposition groups since President Museveni took over power 30 years ago.
Only a few weeks ago it emerged that the parties that signed The Democratic Alliance Protocol (TDA) had failed to produce a single opposition candidate through a unanimous consensus, albeit this has not stopped some of the members (of the alliance) to go forward with their support for Mbabazi.
This week the Democratic Party, a section of Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) the Uganda Federal Alliance (UFA) and Justice Forum (JEEMA) announced they had formed a new coalition to support Mbabazi. The new coalition is named The Democratic Alliance-Go Forward Coalition of the Willing.
The decision came after almost a month of bitter exchanges between the Mbabazi-leaning parties and Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), and the Conservative Party who refused to back Mbabazi.
This move meant that the death of TDA as it was set out to be, failed to unanimously agree on who would lead the Alliance.
FDC and CP bosses accuse those backing Mbabazi of selfish benefits they could have accrued from supporting the former premier.
They particularly cite the determination by Mbabazi’s backers to change the rules of the game midway to favour Mbabazi including abandoning key critical rules in favour of the former prime Minister. At the same time, some of the key campaigns by Mbabazi’s supporters was to replace unanimous consensus with greater support through elections.
The true extent of the disunity in the Opposition is yet to be fully understood, considering the crossing back to NRM by former Vice President Prof. Gilbert Bukenya and the rumoured cross over of other high raking opposition figures.
Indeed, Besigye’s independent stand has not gone down well within his party. Outspoken Kitgum Woman MP Betty Anywar has expressed disappointment over Besigye’s refusal to support Mbabazi. Anywar says that Besigye has been supported three times and failed to win the presidency.
While denying accusations by a local Tabloid that she had crossed to NRM, Anywar told The Sunrise that: “I have issues with my flag bearer, [Besigye]. He took a personal decision that is trying to bind us all. But I am still a founding Member of FDC but I can choose who to support.” Anywar concluded: “Our flag bearer is leaving us confused.”
Why TDA collapsed?
CP President John Ken Lukyamuzi appears to suggest that the whole TDA project led by Rev. Dr. Zac Niringiye, was designed to support Mbabazi with no political basis.
During a press conference in Kampala this week, The Rubaga South legislator accused TDA’s secretariat under the influence of Bishop Zac Niringiye of sidelining the people’s participation in the selection process of the Alliance’s flag bearer through a public televised debate as originally planned.
He further accuses Niringiye of what he terms as smuggling Former Prime Minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi into the race for the TDA flag bearer.
“Under clause 29(a) of the TDA protocol, Mbabazi’s bid to become TDA’s flag bearer was in question because he was not vetted by a delegates conference, neither was he attached to any registered political entity recognized by law,” Lukyamuzi complains
On the other hand however, UFA president Beti Namisango Kamya accuses the chairman of The Democratic Alliance Prof. Fredrick Ssempebwa of failing to direct the alliance to achieve its single- candidate objective.
“As a chairman, who knew the cardinal objective the alliance set out to achieve, he was supposed to use his position to steer us to deliver that objective regardless of the many twists our proceedings took,” Kamya said while appearing in a radio talk show on one of Kampala’s radio stations.
Kamya’s views are shared by her fellow TDA summit member and Butambala County legislator Muwanga Kivumbi whose party DP strongly endorsed Mbabazi.
The bickering and deepening divisions among the opposition at a critical moment of elections comes as a major blow and source of disappointment for a large number of Ugandans who are desirous of bringing an end to NRM’s tight stranglehold on power.
But some politicians argue that the divisions should not frustrate voters because TDA was founded on principles that predestined it failure regardless of any member’s contribution.
“Those who are apportioning blame now should not waste time for Ugandans when they themselves know that the Alliance they started was bound to fail from the word go,” says Entebbe Municipality MP Mohamed Kawuma.
He argues that Prof. Ssempebwa only guided the parties following the principles of consensus and unanimity the TDA parties had set in the protocol and therefore forcing the Alliance on the path of voting to arrive at a single candidate as Kamya is suggesting would be in breach of the protocol.
Efforts to get a comment from Prof. SSempebwa proved futile as he did not pick his phone consistently. What remains true however is that the yearning for solidarity among ordinary folks is still a major disappointment. This is especially so after some members of TDA have shown willingness to defy their colleagues, reducing future space for cooperation.