Ugandan Diaspora News | Letter from the Editor | October 2015 | TDA Protocol & the Politics of Sole Candidates

Posted October 1, 2015 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Editorial ~ 5,708 views


ronnie editor

Greetings Folks,

There has been lots of maneuvers, shock and awe as we await the biggest election in Uganda since 2006. Why 2006? That election was held a year after the lifting of Presidential term limits in 2005. For what has been described as 30 pieces of silver or a bribe of 5 million shillings, barely 10 years after its enactment our constitution was altered to allow President Museveni to serve unlimited terms in office.

Fast forward to the run-up to 2016 elections we are now witnessing a more surprising turn of events. For starters those of us who thought that was to be a three-way race between Museveni, Mbabazi and Besigye got the biggest surprise when The Democratic Alliance (TDA) met and resolved to field a single candidate. Equally surprising was when it emerged that the most electable candidate for the Presidency was not Besigye but Mbabazi (JPAM) and all hell broke loose.

Although Besigye has represented Uganda’s opposition for the past 15 years and had just won his party nomination as flag bearer for FDC it was also clear that after 3 attempts as the main challenger people seem to desire a fresh approach to end the Museveni regime. Some argue that Besigye bagged about 2 million votes in 2011 and another so many votes in 2006 but they ignore the united opposition vote that has always voted for the candidate with the best chance of defeating the incumbant. It is important to remember that the last election had several million voters who abstained from the process, perhaps realising that it would be a foregone conclusion. This time, with Mbabazi some say that voter apathy will not be a factor and many predict a record turnout.

Pundits also argue that Besigye lacks the organisation, monetary resources, presentation and sophistication, all things which JPAM has built, to cause an upset or chip away at the NRM vote. With the NRM party in turmoil, rumor has it that the suspension of NRM primaries is a sign that Mbabazi sympathizers might have infiltrated the NRM system to possibly cause a split in the NRM vote.

While Besigye enjoys cult status among many of his followers and has posed the strongest challenge to Museveni’s rule, some also feel he falls short of having the real Presidential “look” owing to his presentation  and those with whom he surrounds himself. When one is under consideration for certain positions, especially chief executive officer (CEO) it is best to avoid coming across as unbeatable and annointed — Hillary Clinton lost the nomination for President of the Democratic Party in part because some resented Hillary’s sense of entitlement. Radical views and anger do not win elections. True, we need change but how we prepare for this transition becomes the most crucial factor that will sway undecided voters. On social media platforms many have commented on how Besigye has constantly done himself a disservice by how he presents himself. His oratory skills are unmatched and have resonated with what the people wanted to hear, but his visible expressions of anger have scared away many, especially some middle-class voters who worry about what would happen if he assumed the Presidency.  Like Moses who led the Children of Israel out of Egypt and bondage — Uganda might be ripe for a Joshua who will lead us into the promised land.

Former Prime Minister Mbabazi (JPAM) on other hand, though a bit aloof from voters (something some interpret as being out of touch either because of his wealth), represents two types of people– those within the movement that want to see a change and those outside the movement that would like to see a peaceful transition. Mbabazi having been part of the establishment and with deep connections in Uganda’s security apparatus can make him the change candidate that can ensure this transition. He also enjoys a considerable amount of donor support unlike Besigye who also recounted in the book Kizza Besigye and Uganda’s Unfinished Revolution by Daniel Kalinaki, that the donor community did not quite embrace his previous bids, perhaps citing fatigue or the fear factor that surrounded his candidacy!

And so when TDA was born with an aim to field a single candidate many of us saw in it the hope we needed to bring about a peaceful transition. However following the failure of TDA to agree on a single candidate and Besigye’s unwillingness to compromise or endorse Mbabazi who had been overwhelmingly favored at the TDA summit this greatly exposed Besigye, who had previously indicated he would not participate in elections unless reforms took place. By Besigye failing to work out a unitary solution with Amama, the man he says has never left the movement, seems to portray him as a selfish leader.  In 1999 Besigye was a reformer who broke ranks with the NRM party later becoming a Presidential candidate of the Reform agenda.

Watching his supporters storm the TDA summit and the manner in which he acted on a national stage exposed him further. While the leader of the opposition and the FDC secretary general fought back rowdy crowds led by MP Odongo Otto, it was clear that this radical view or attempt to anoint Besigye the opposition sole candidate after losing at the TDA was not going to be accepted by his die-hard loyalists. After accusing Muntu, his fellow contestant for party flag-bearer, during the debate of not being fully supportive of the TDA protocol to field a single candidate, Besigye was exposed and left naked as the TDA single candidate initiative collapsed.

Reading Semujju’s column in the Observer and the threat that those who attacked or demonised Besigye would attract responses in his defense was also interesting because some within the FDC ranks, including MP Betty Anywar, felt that a new approach was needed since Besigye had tried and failed on three separate occasions to unseat Museveni. The belief that it must be his way or no way is what I believe might bury Besigye’s star. Remember the article by DP President Mao(see link below) and Turinawe’s minority report regarding Mbabazi’s invitation to TDA, All these emerged after it appeared that most in TDA selection committee would back a Mbabazi candidature and not Besigye. This prompted me to wonder, had Besigye been the flag bearer or the TDA candidate chosen at the summit would the alliance have suffered a similar fate?

On his part Amama Mbabazi must also make all attempts to address the fears surrounding his candidature. At issue is the role the opposition will play in the post Museveni administration since he remains strongly rooted in the Movement. Equally of concern to some is Mbabazi’s task force or inner circle that seems to be composed of his immediate family members. If Museveni was accused of personalizing the State and some of its institutions Mbabazi would do well naming a broad team of his support base that represents an equal distribution of the national cake!

And as we come to another independence celebration we need to take a closer look at the serious issues affecting our nation and the best possible candidate to effect change. Uganda needs change at the top. Though visibly looking old and social media questioning his fitness to lead, our President shows signs of an unwillingness to go peacefully, based on his past rhetoric that he sees no one to whom he can to hand over power, thus increasing the perception that Uganda is not headed in the direction of greater democracy.

Finally, with the drought and food shortage that have claimed lives in Karamoja, how is it that Uganda, called a “food basket” in the region with a fully constituted Disaster Preparedness Ministry and a separate Ministry for Karamoja Affairs still has not provided food aid for its dying population?

With the Pope on his way to Uganda next month after a successful US and Cuban visit we hope that this time will help heal a nation that is increasingly looking divided along political lines. Let us pray for civility among our leaders as we approach the 2016 elections.

Quote of the month — “Victor Hugo once wrote: ‘No one can resist an idea whose time has come’.

For God and My Country.

Ronnie Mayanja

Ugandan Diaspora News | | Ugandan Diaspora Network | Event website | | US | +1-978-235-2459 | UG +256-773-212-007 | +256- 794-999-898 | +256-703-999-898 Skype | ronnie.mayanja | Twitter | @rmayanja |

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.



    This article shows deep insight into what has unnecessarily become a rather complex and divisive issue. However, I wish to clarify one particular issue of importance: the composition of the Go Forward, now known as the TDA-Go Forward team. Amama has one wife, six biological children. Our team at Headquarters is composed of over 50 people! We come from Buganda, Kigezi, Lango sub-region, Acholi sub-region, Busoga, Ankole…I encourage anyone who doubts this to pay us a visit.
    Go Forward is a Movement based on the belief that there can be unity in diversity, be it gender, tribe, social status or political affiliation. It is not a Party. It’s a promise.


    Uganda, Uganda,
    One wonders what became of it
    One worries whats coming next
    Why Uganda?
    And why us?
    What is the remedy for Uganda?
    And when is the remedy due?
    Uganda Uganda teeaarss…
    Over Uganda.

You must be logged in to post a comment.