The long awaited race has come close to its end as more than 1000 delegates of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party gather at Mandela stadium to decide who will be their next president.
The Presidential race began with over seven contestants, but the number has since thinned to just four; Daniel Matsiko and Moses Byamugisha who really have nothing to do with this election save for registering their effort, Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu who knows all the corners of the office and Patrick Oboi Amuriat who is glamorously referred to as POA.
The race therefore comes down to POA and Muntu on who can successfully floor the other and kick start their ideology within the party that has literally lacked one as made visible by the recent debate.
What remains a bigger subject of discussion is; will Muntu seal himself in the position as the new FDC political Joshua or the time has come where he could lose this and decide how else he wants to serve the party? Because honestly, Muntu’s position in the party should he lose this race will be inconceivable, unlike his colleague who came from far downstairs and should he lose the race, to the go down he will return and quietly fade away.
Indeed, when the two men appeared on NBS TV’s The Frontline show on Thursday and were faced with the question on how they have planned for contrary results from their expectations, they struck the exact feeling.
“I was serving in the party before I came up to show interest in this position, when I do not go through tomorrow, I will return to my capacity and serve the party,” Amuriat calmly submitted.
“I have lost three times, but I keep coming back, that is to show that I am very democratic,” Muntu said.
The two answers show which of the two candidates would have their ‘dream’ shattered through the 1000 pieces of paper in a ballot box.
But who of the two candidates stands a higher chance of leaving Namboole in celebratory mood like the Uganda Cranes in their form season?
Muntu comes to the race with experience- three defeats at his back and half a decade experience in the office, if his structures that he so much brags about are to go by, then the former army commander could run to the corner flag and celebrate.
However, Muntu is one man who has become a punching bag for every hand in the party and outside it, from being labeled an NRM mole to much petty accusations of being a gentleman who is not fit to lead a party banked in defiance and ‘street fights’.
Most party members do not comprehend his so called strategy, his message of building party structures comes off to them like a song does to dogs. In him, they see a weakling, a total sham, a complete mismatch with the latent niche of the party and a yawning difference from the man he succeeded (Dr Kizza Besigye).
Muntu’s victory for Presidency in 2012, was only helped by the fact that the party strong man, Dr Besigye bowed out and did not endorse either Muntu or his competitor (Mafabi).
However, Muntu’s journey was still tough, winning the election by a controversial 22 votes, his election came close to being nullified when a committee set aside to probe its validity approached Dr Besigye who recommended a rerun of the polls albeit for “harmony” reasons.
Muntu required another committee of lawyers to stay the election, but his tenure was not going to be the smooth as he had lost out on the entire Nandala Mafabi camp and those who shared the imprinted party norm of defiance.
This was Muntu’s first time to taste some form of victory and may be a sign that he is appreciated in a party he loves so much, but it came that hard!
Muntu was coming from three fair and square obliterations by Kizza Besigye; losing by a 600 votes margin in 2009, 730 votes in 2010, and 429 votes in 2015, so one can comfortably say that his continuous intentions at challenging Dr Besigye within the party were only farts in strong wind for it was visible he was not wanted or for the sake of respecting feelings- Besigye was far more liked than he was.
Today, Muntu heads into the race with the same odds against him, he has been labeled an NRM mole (not that it’s the first time) and most importantly, the man who condemned him to defeat thrice has endorsed someone else.
For the previous election, Dr Besigye kept tight lipped on whom he was supporting, even when he moved forward to cast his vote he tried so hard not to give away any clues by either body language or by movement of the pen, but today he has POA-ad his blessing.
Besigye has been traversing the country with POA under the guise of age limit consultations, in the course clashing with the police and reinforcing POA’s strategy of defiance.
With the chaos they generated, came those who so much love being around it in the names of; Nandala Mafabi, Ingrid Turinawe, Wafula Ogutu, Mubarak Munyagwa and Francis Mwijukye.
If Besigye and his cohort still command a following quite big in the party, then there is no doubt POA will go home as the President of FDC.
But too close to call, as Muntu knows how to sneak support via the parliament ventilator. The former army man enjoys support from the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Ms Winnie Kiiza, the opposition Chief Whip Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, Amanya Mushega, Munini Mulera (He penned a very rosy article about him recently), Wasswa Birigwa, Paul Mwiru and Augustine Ruzinda.
The squads are out and it all shows the ball possession will be 50-50 but the odds are high for Muntu, should one stake his coins on the gentleman, his victory will not only make him party president, it will have sealed his position in the party as he will have not only beaten Amuriat but Besigye as well.