Jack Sabiiti pestered me to receive Museveni graces - Besigye

Politics
Jack Sabiiti pestered me to receive Museveni graces - Besigye
Dr Besigye (right) has broken omerta on Sabiiti

Dr Kizza Besigye says former FDC treasurer Jack Sabiiti laboured to convince him to negotiate with the NRM regime 'so that the old guard in the party can get a soft landing'

POLITICS | Opposition stalwart Kizza Besigye has laced his tongue at last, revealing that his erstwhile comrade in the struggle, Jack Sabiiti, severally attempted to juice him up with President Museveni's inducements.

Dr Besigye, a four-time presidential candidate, said Mr Sabiiti, a former treasurer of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), laboured to convince him to negotiate with the NRM regime "so that the old guard in the party can get a soft landing".

"The man is growing old, he may die also. Let's consider working with him," Dr Besigye recalled of his alleged conversation with Mr Sabiiti.

He was earlier this week speaking from Kasese District in western Uganda during a consultative meeting with party supporters.

Besigye has been leading his so-called FDC Katonga faction in canvassing views from party supporters as they seek to formalise and found a political organisation.

They bitterly split from the Najjanankumbi-based group led by FDC president Patrick Amuriat and general secretary Nandala Mafabi.

Former two-time Rukiga County Sabiiti is a founding member of FDC. For two-and-a-half decades between 2001 and 2011, he and Besigye appeared to pull the same rope.

But from the time he lost his second seat in 2016 elections, Mr Sabiiti and Dr Besigye started drifting apart.

From the surface, that is what it looked like. But a deeper probe would reveal that the divergence of opinion was only coming up after years of quiet discomfort within the party.

Dr Besigye's FDC Katonga mobilisation activities has riled the Najjanankumbi hierarchy

When FDC fell apart last year, Mr Sabiiti faulted Besigye, saying the man who had led the party for 10 years had engineered the crisis so that he could seek to run for presidency again in 2026.

Dr Besigye insists he has no desire to contest again and, ending his tradition of not speaking about the conduct of Opposition members within his ranks in public, he revealed he had rejected pressure from Sabiiti to push for negotiations with Mr Museveni.

Mr Ronald Muhinda, Besigye's aide, says the rejection potentially triggered a "blackmail campaign" from the FDC leadership in Najjanankumbi.

"Mzee Sabiiti has made it a habit to make falsehoods in the media, perhaps driven by anger that Besigye rejected his pressure to negotiate with Mr Museveni," Mr Muhinda said on Facebook while sharing a clip in which Besigye made the startling revelations about Mr Sabiiti.

In the past, Nile Post editor Jacobs Odongo Seaman had made several attempts to get Besigye to comment on the loud whispers regarding financial dealings with Mr Museveni among Opposition members.

"I was told he would never bring himself to speak about that," Odongo said. "Besigye's inside circle said he understood that many of them were compelled to tiptoe to State House in the dead of the night for survival."

Several former close associates of Besigye in FDC have walked away and joined the high-table, serving in various top positionsin NRM government.

Beatrice Anywar is state minister for environment, Joyce Ssebugwaho is state minister for ICT, Betty Kamya in Ombudsman, Anita Among is Speaker of Parliament, while Major Rubaramira Ruranga defected to "fight against HIV/AIDS".

It is also for this omerta (secret code of silence) creed that Dr Besigye refuses to write a book.

He has intimated to friends that if he committed to his biographical work, it would be a tell-tale book and that would hurt many in the Opposition who still never to survive.

But Mr Muhinda said Besigye now feels "the people have been fooled for way too long".

Mr Jack Sabiiti has questioned the source of FDC Katonga faction mobilisation funding

Speaking about Mr Sabiiti still, Besigye revealed: "He said he had some friends who were Opposition but in close contact with Museveni and that they [Besigye and Sabiiti], too, could do the same as a means of survival since they had exhausted their resources."

Besigye said when he was tipped off that Mr Sabiiti was cavorting with Mr Museveni at State House, he confronted his then comrade and the man from Rukiga County in Kigezi had vehemently denied the allegations.

The widely publicised reasons for the bitter split in FDC was that Amuriat and Mafabi had received fat brown envelopes to prevail on Besigye to cease his defiance protests.

The two deny the accusations but after Besigye broke his own semblance of omerta with the revelations on Mr Sabiiti, it appears like the country is about to flip open the chapter where evidence is adduced.

Yet for Mr Sabiiti, there is still something to cling on, after all, politics is a gift that keeps giving.

"Besigye is a very difficult man, he believes he is the only person who can talk about Uganda and the only person who can lead Uganda," Sabiiti said recently. " I see him moving around, abusing other leaders."

"Now we have new leadership but he loves to interfere as if he's still the President of the party."

Besigye publicly trolled his former treasurer after he attacked him for being "all-knowing" and not letting the new leaders execute their roles on a personal level.

Speaking about the Katonga faction activities, Mr Sabiiti drew a line in the accountability book, questioning where Dr Besigye was getting funds to run the consultative meetings.

“Besigye is either using the money he received from abroad that was put on his private accounts and [he] refused to declare or he is being funded by Museveni to bring down our party,” he said during a TV interview.

But in Kasese, Dr Besigye had left Mr Sabiiti a strong parting shot.

"You were my treasurer in my term, had you ever heard about money coming from any other routes besides the ones I had mentioned?" Besigye asked Sabiiti.

"If you heard and kept quiet, that was treason."

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