The current crisis that has gripped the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) can be traced to the financial throes that the party found itself in in the lead up to the 2021 presidential elections, forcing some principals to take hard decisions.
Though both Dr Kizza Besigye, the founding FDC President and Mr Nandala Mafabi, the Secretary General, who are leading parallel factions, admitted that the party was cash-strapped in the lead-up to the 2021 polls, the two fell short of coming clean on the source of the money.
However, Eagle Online can exclusively reveal that the money at the centre of the acrimonious fight was secured from a top moneylender in town by Mafabi, much to the chagrin of some senior party members who were against the idea of securing such a loan from a moneylender.
A senior party member who sits on the FDC Elders Committee that is currently investigating the source of the money said the money amounts to the tune of Shs5 billion but declined giving the actual figure.
At the press conference in Najjanakumbi, the FDC Headquarters, Eng. Patrick Amuriat, the FDC President, declined divulging the source of the impugned money. “We will not disclose and betray the funder. They could be in government, business people or civil servants. This is meant to protect them from the junta,” Eng Amuriat said.
Mr Mafabi put the money that was available to the party to bankroll the 2021 polls to be Shs3 billion, a fee that is Shs2 billion less than what our source indicated to us.
“The 2011 election was well-funded with about Shs10 billion available but the 2021 election was poorly funded. We hardly got Shs3 billion because the funders run away because it was Amuriat standing (as President),” Mafabi said.
At his Katonga Road office, Dr Besigye gave a genesis of the financial crisis in the party, detailing how he was approached to fundraise for Eng. Amuriat in the run-up to the 2021 polls but could not do so because he has lost interest in elections.
The founding FDC President said funders could not offer financial backing to Eng. Amuriat because he was a “last-minute compromise” while there was “also absolutely no plan” on how to manage the elections.
When the now contested cash came in, Mafabi disbanded an Election Bureau that had been formed to manage the elections, Dr Besigye said.
“There have been allegations that I got money for my own campaigns but failed to get money for Mr Amuriat. Fundraising for an election depends on a candidate. Not in the sense that the candidate must raise all the money. You can’t raise money when there is no candidate,” Dr Besigye said.
With all these accusations and counter-accusations, a power struggle is also brewing pitting Semujju Ibrahim Nganda, the Kira Municipality MP and FDC Spokesperson, Erias Lukwago, the Kampala Lord Mayor and FDC Vice President against Mafabi and Amuriat.
With party elections looming, the rivalry has taken an unsavory turn with accusations turning tribal-as both Ssemujju and Lukwago are from central Uganda while Mafabi and Amuriat are from Eastern Uganda.
Other party insiders further accuse Dr. Besigye of nursing a hangover over FDC saying he has never left the party leadership to curry on with what is deemed fit for them to do.
“Besigye should know that he isn’t the leader of FDC anymore and why have does he want to behave like a person who is a bad looser? He never lost FDC leadership but rather retired and immediately set a comparable office as if to suggest that he was the head prefect of opposition. We respect him but it is high time he respects himself as well” said a source.
Besigye is said to be behind a lineup of party hardliners whom he had fronted to dislodge the current leaders who he accuses of not listening to him anymore and these hardliners are Erias Lukwago for Party President and Outspoken Kira Municipality legislator Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda for Secretary General.
In Lukwago and Ssemujju Besigye believes he would have secured an avenue to be the helm of FDC activities again like he was before. However, his approach on the two individuals who are both Baganda and Muslims is backfiring with FDC members from other traditional regions of Uganda questioning the rational used at getting two who hail from Buganda and yet the same region is in bed with National Unity Platform. Sources further reveal that with the opposition mounting to Besigye’s scheme, the opposition to Najjanankumbi has shifted and drafted in former Bugabula legislator Salaam Musumba as a replacement for Lukwago.
The Najjanankumbi team faults Besigye for knowing facts about how money was sourced but had decided to paint the leadership as sale outs who got money from government. They wonder why same Besigye didn’t refuse money that was sourced for him in 2011 when he was stuck during campaigns but was rather rescued by one of the current leaders who mortgaged two of his fuel stations to money leaders to get him campaign money.