Opposition parties appear to have failed to end President Museveni’s 35-year hold on power, after five times of trying, leading many into a soul searching mood.
For the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT), this soul searching is definitely needed given that their presidential candidate, Gen Gregory Mugisha Muntu garnered less than 1% of the votes cast (0.65% to be precise) while the party did not register any MP.
In an interview with The Nile Post, Gen Muntu, said one of the major reasons the party performed dismally is because it was not ready (for the elections).
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your poor performance in the last elections?
We would have had a number of members of parliament, more than 10 but our best candidates, as you know, were specifically targeted by the regime especially those who were found [to be very popular].
Someone like (Paul) Mwiru was cheated and he is actually in court. Someone like (Gerald) Karuhanga was also targeted and even (Wadri) Kassiano was targeted. There is a lady in Madi-Okollo [who was destined to win] but they (regime) went and bought out two people who had nominated her.
We know many things but we are not bothered. We will keep building. We know they were targeting us and it was because of that building. They did not want us even to have one member of parliament. The regime was targeting ANT specifically at MP level, we know that.
We know the reasons why we were targeted but we won’t say them. We will do a number of things.
We were not all that ready to be honest with you. In one year that we were building, we were not sufficiently ready, we would have made it if we had enough time. We are not going to engage in complaining, we are not going to engage in anything. We will focus on a number of things which we think should be done.
Some people claim that you made a big mistake in leaving the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).
Our separation with FDC was the best thing that could have happened because we left the party at liberty and at peace. Had we stayed in FDC, we would have been fighting and tearing each other, pulling each other in different directions. We separated. FDC concentrated on building itself and we are building ourselves. We are people who are focusing long term. Much as we didn’t perform well at presidential level, much as our members didn’t perform well at parliamentary level, their performance in many parts of the country is quite encouraging.
We are happy that we have got [some winners] at the local government level because we have won one LC V chairperson seat, we have some LC V councillors, and few mayors and a number of LC3 councillors.
We are going to train them and work with them. We shall train them on how to represent their constituencies well. We are satisfied with our performance in the view of all the conditions in which we are operating.
Personally, do you feel disappointed with your performance?
No no no. I don’t feel disappointed at all because what I did was to do a reformed thing; which is a good message and even our message as ANT was really in the population. So we are not worried at all.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years? Will you contest again in 2026?
Why should anyone make decisions now? Our planning is step by step. We concentrate on building an Alliance for National Transformation and the dynamics of this election was very clear to me that the front contenders were (Robert) Kyagulanyi and Gen Museveni. I was not perturbed because the dynamics we are playing now in 2021, will be completely different from the dynamics that have unfolded. So our concentration now is to build the organisation.
Some opposition leaders believe that President Museveni cannot be removed from power through elections. Do you hold the same view?
For us we believe it can. For those who think it can’t, we think it can because there is when all of Acholi, Lango and some parts of West Nile were voting for Besigye and against Gen Museveni.
Later, Teso became part [of the opposition stronghold]. In 2016, Kasese totally threw out Museveni at presidential level and as well as at the local government. Now imagine if all those areas were consolidated [with Buganda], what do you think would happen?
Imagine if all these areas voted for the same [candidate], regime change would happen. I am convinced when we are well organized and we combine effort as the opposition, we will kick out this regime.
In your view do you think there is still a chance for the opposition to unite for a common cause?
For us [as ANT] we do our part and we ensure that we don’t compete with any opposition. We don’t antagonise with any opposition party, we don’t provoke any opposition party, we don’t undermine any opposition party. We are not in conflict with any opposition party. Since we are not even in the parliament yet, I would like the larger parties to coordinate effort if there is going to be any cooperation.
You have been traversing different parts of the country. Is this one way of bringing hope to your members who lost in the last elections?
Yes. First is to do a review about what transpired in the electoral processes and get to know the experiences of different candidates in different locations in the country, learn lessons, where we were strong and where we were weak, and understand the level of preparation. The outcomes will be reviewed.
We will sit and chart out the strategic direction on how to continue building our branch networks. When Covid-19 came, it halted [our progress] when we had not even done a quarter of our activities. We will continue with that until we complete having our branches built in every sub county. Our recruitment processes are attracting honest men and women with integrity, those who have to see that qualitative change happens.
Where do you see ANT in the next five years to come given the setback it faced in the last elections?
Everything is much clearer. We are a small party as we speak but we are going through exponential growth in the next two to three years because when we move around the country, there is nowhere, we haven’t found any hostility or resistance. People are appreciating our message. We found that people also appreciate our discipline as an organisation and also detected that people trust us. In two to three years, we will be a very strong and formidable party.
How have you determined the trust of the people in you?
We meet different people in different walks of life with messages and communication through social media. We see [that] people understand our message and even when we were campaigning, we could hear people commenting about our candidates. We hear people say, ‘this is the best candidate in the team that has run’ and then they would say ‘he or she has no money or he or she does not have momentum. ‘Such a comment is something quite positive.