Last Friday’s election of Patrick Amuriat Oboi (POA) as FDC president sent shockwaves in the opposition realm and marked the crossing of a Rubicon in the testy politics of Uganda’s largest opposition party.
In a David vs Goliath race, Amuriat polled 641 votes to Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu’s 463, defeating him with 168 votes.
But as darkness engulfed Namboole Stadium deep into Friday morning, those that were particularly shaken and worried by Amuriat’s victory are the FDC leaders in Parliament who all supported Gen Muntu.
Leader of Opposition Winnie Kizza, Opposition Chief Whip Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, PAC Chairperson Angeline Osege and her deputy Gerald Karuhanga, COSASE Chairman Abdu Katuntu and Local Government Accounts Committee Chairman Reagan Okumu, all spiritedly backed Gen Muntu.
Deputy Opposition Whip Roland Mugume Kaginda, Government Assurances Committee Chairman Hassan Kaps Fungaroo and Local Government Accounts Vice Chairman Okin PP Ojara are the only FDC leaders in Parliament who backed Amuriat.
Perhaps, MPs who worked with Amuriat during his three-term stint in Parliament knew better that the office of the FDC president is more onerous than representing Kumi County.
After clinching victory, Amuriat acknowledged that he did not enjoy the support of most MPs and appeared to strike a magnanimous chord when he suggested that now is the time to put the campaign squabbles to a past.
“I would like to address my friends the MPs, LoP and her team; you are a great asset to this country. We have got to forge a good relationship so that each of us is comfortable as we do our work. I know number of you did not trust that I can run the party but this is something of the past. You have a president before you and so we need to work together,”Amuriat said.
But Amuriat was quick to add a disclaimer, warning that the: “Battle for the liberation of this country is not going to happen there (Parliament). It will happen outside.”
Amuriat was effectively putting the MPs who did not back him on notice; defiance-and not compliance, is the way to go for the party.
Naturally, the FDC MPs who did not support Amuriat left Namboole fearing for their jobs and they are right to do so.
Parliament’s Rules of Procedure require that a review of the post of the LoP,Opposition Chief Whip and leadership of the four accountability committees be done every two and half years.
Mid next year, the positions of all the FDC leaders in Parliament will be reviewed by the FDC president, who will no doubt be guided by the Secretary General Nandala Mafabi and founding President Kizza Besigye.
Winnie Kizza and her team have, however, done enough to retain their positions.
The leadership Winnie and Ssemujju have exhibited during the fight against the removal of age limits in Parliament cannot be understated.
And as the English say, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’!
For Katuntu, under his leadership, Cosase has managed to recover Shs 26b from profiteering Chinese firms while his leadership of the probe into the Oil Cash Bonanza (President Museveni’s Shs6 billion ‘handshake’) is still fresh in the memories of Ugandans.
Accountability committees have been the shining light of the Tenth Parliament and a reshuffle of leadership would be ill-advised.
And there is also the need to avoid further polarisation of the party. If Amuriat replaces Winnie Kizza and her team, it would lead to a further disintegration of a party that is already split by two diametrically opposed sides.