The Forum for Democratic Change party has been rocked by allegations of money received from President Museveni, causing public debate for close to three months.
Despite calls for reconciliation among party members to restore the party’s lost glory as the largest opposition in Parliament, there seems to be little hope for unity following the party’s recently concluded extraordinary conference
In an interview with the Nile Post, former Leader of Opposition, Betty Aol Ochan, pointed a finger at President Museveni as the major cause of the conflict in the party. She warned that the president wants to see the party dead and even predicts the National Unity Platform(NUP) will follow suit.
What are your thoughts on the current political climate in the country?
It is very hostile, it is unconstitutional. We have our constitution which is good enough for us. The Constitution is to ensure good governance and to always challenge the ruling party. The ruling party has to govern the country for the people of Uganda. It is constitutional that we are in the multiparty dispensation and it doesn’t mean that you have to kill all other parties.
Do you think President Museveni’s statement of finishing opposition political parties in Uganda is becoming a reality?
Yes, that is what is in play. If Ugandans think we should go unconstitutional, then we are going to see all the parties destroyed. What we try to address is just the symptoms. The real root causes are still untouched. We need to address the root causes of the problem. You see UPC is almost destroyed and DP the same. (What is happening to other opposition parties) will also come to the National Unity Platform(NUP) .
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the FDC?
The biggest problem of FDC is president Museveni who wants to see that the party is dead. He offered the money (to some top officials) to kill the party. Corruption is also killing the party. I think that our secretary general could have got (money from Museveni).
We also contribute to the party as MPs. We want to see the transparency in handling the resources that go to the party. But also the money that the government gives to the parties. The money could also be used wrongfully by the secretary general. He is working as an individual. We are in this ugly picture because of lack of transparency. It is because president Museveni doesn’t want to see our structure.
In your opinion, did the elders forum handle the internal issues well?
The elders forum was not properly instituted. I am an ardent member of FDC and I am not seeing the visibility of the elder’s forum. We needed to see the visibility of the elder’s forum early and we needed to bring them in our programme.
Amuriat accused Dr Besigye Kizza, the founding father of FDC of exerting too much control over the party. What is your stance on this?
I don’t think so. Besigye also lost his brother in the struggle. What Besigye wants to see is that the party is not dead. He said whether he is there or not the party has to stand. It has to stand firm and on clear grounds. The fighting in the party now is for positions not anything. This fighting is destroying the confidence of the people. We are destroying the structure of the party. We should value the structure of the FDC.
What impact will the ongoing infighting have on the FDC’s prospects in the 2026 elections?
The issues are in court. These issues which are in court should be handled legally. I will be happy to see these two factions win so that it is a win-win situation. So, that the party is brought together and it can happen when we don’t only value the leadership positions. We need to value the structure because that is the foundation of FDC. President Museveni is now laughing at us terribly and very happy, smiling and saying that ‘I have done it’.
Who is telling the truth?
There is no smoke without fire. There is that intention to destroy FDC and that is what is probably Dr Kizza Besigye is being put in this situation and that he is the Satan in all this saga which is not the case. He is trying to guide the party. He has since moved away from FDC leadership but he is still looking at the interest of the party. He embraces all other people who want change. He wants change for the betterment of the people of Uganda. Uganda should not be captured by just a family where everything is the family in charge. Ugandans should be in charge of their country.
Is there any truth to the rumors about goons looming around the FDC headquarters? Where are these individuals coming from?
I talked to the secretary general Nathan Nandala Mafabi after the national council meeting. I told him that even if things were bad, he didn’t need to hire people to come and fight. What he answered me was, do you want the other side to defeat me? I think that is really bad for the party. I wanted him to use a lot of wisdom. The wisdom is not hiring goons to come and incite people. Where do they get money from for hiring these goons? We have been struggling with the issue of finances but now you see them hiring goons. They hire people from Gulu, they hire people from different parts of the country. I saw a person from Gulu among the goons hired by the secretary general. Let us not misuse Ugandans, their strength should be for something which is good.
Who do you believe is the mole within the FDC?
I don’t call anybody a mole. I don’t call any of them, including Nandala Mafabi a mole. I have now discovered that politics is difficult. If he(Mafabi) received any money from president Museveni that was bad. I don’t have any evidence for that but the evidence that I can adduce is that there is use of a lot of money. Where this money comes from which was not there is where the problem is. And that is what makes me think that (perhaps he got the money). We have to forgive and move on.
Every human can make an error. The person who fights from underground is the worst person. (Museveni swearing to destroy politics was very bad for Uganda). It was against the constitution of Uganda.
How can the situation within the party be remedied and brought back to a state of normalcy?
We should get ourselves together. We should be wise enough and know that (the death of FDC is being caused) by somebody else. We must forgive Hon Nandala and Patrick Oboi Amuriat. Amuriat is one person I love so much but the fight in the party is dividing us. I know that Amuriat loves the party so much too. Ugandans deserve better.
Was the extra delegate conference organized by Ambassador Wasswa Birigwa a missed opportunity for reconciliation?
It is not. It was to make sure that the plans for the reconciliation comes on the ground. It is not a missed opportunity. I look at it as an opportunity to bring all the two factions together. It was to show people that things are not alright. Why are the police protecting the other side?
Considering there was a court order to stop the event, wasn’t the extra delegate conference illegal?
How can it be illegal when they were consulted and they told the national chairman Ambassador Wasswa Birigwa that there was no fund. A lot of us contributed and bought the place at Najjanankumbi. That court order was not fair. That is why we had to move ahead to stop the unfairness. Why would the court stop one side and allow the other side to go ahead? That was unfair. The conference will now open the eyes of the judges. Najjanankumbi is our headquarters.
What is the new interim leadership doing to reclaim the FDC headquarters, considering Amuriat’s vow to never leave?
Give it a time, it will be happening (we shall reclaim the party headquarters). The other side has a very strong lawyer and our side also has a very strong lawyer. The two has to come together. I believe something good will come out. We still have a very big opportunity for the two side to come together.
How do you view Besigye’s role in the ongoing conflicts within the party?
Besigye is a very strong politician. Besigye has really sacrificed a lot for the people of Uganda. It is not about himself. If the fight was about himself he would just be comfortable at his home but here is a person who cries for good democracy, good governance. Besigye has very strong followers. He wants to unite people, so that instead of focusing only on FDC, his focus is to bring all the people together, especially those who want to see change.
What is your opinion on Amuriat and Mafabi’s nomination for the top party leadership positions?
That is very okay. Let the nominations go on. Nominations without the structures of FDC are as good as nothing. It is still possible to reconcile even after that nomination. Because what is important is the delegate conference on October 6 should not happen without these two sides coming together. My prayer is that the spoilers of the reconciliation who is President Museveni should stop. He is the one who orders the police to protect (the other side). If things go like this, FDC as a party will be too weak.
Where do you see the future of FDC in the next five years?
The future will not be there. We will cry and Ugandans will also suffer. We should never put our interest first. We need to prioritize the interest of the Ugandans first. Leaders should be for the people of Uganda. The strongest opposition in Uganda is still FDC. FDC is strong on the ground because of its structure. FDC is being destroyed because of greed and corruption. We would not be like this. Money is destroying FDC and those with guns.
Do you think suspending Amuriat and his colleagues was the right decision?
Yes, it was the right thing to do so that independent people are brought on board to handle these issues. They (Amuriat and colleagues) are the problem. If they are very innocent God will always exonerate them. There must be change to see that our people are served better and nobody is left behind. There must be change.
What is the best way for Uganda’s opposition to unite and successfully remove President Museveni from power?
We can unite if we feel the pain of our people but if we don’t feel the pain of our people, then we can fight among ourselves. I want to tell the opposition to come together. We should challenge the governance if it is poor. You see if FDC was going to be in power, there must also be strong opposition to check on them.