Will Uganda’s opposition FDC maintain grip on Kasese without Dr Kizza Besigye?

Dr Kizza Besigye's home
Dr Kizza Besigye, the former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) President

Kasese, Uganda | URN | Kasese district has overwhelmingly voted for the opposition Forum for Democratic Change [FDC] candidates in the last three general elections. The party has strong representation at the lower local governments. In the 2016 general election, FDC swept the five constituencies and district woman parliamentary seats.

FDC also obtained the highest number of councilors and chairpersons at the division and sub-county levels as it captured 17 of the 29 sub-county seats.

However, analysts warn that the party is likely to lose its grip on Kasese because of internal disputes and absence of Dr Kizza Besigye, the former FDC President who was seen as a kingmaker.

Many believe that the restoration of Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu was out of Dr Besigye’s campaign pledge in 2001 election. In fact, he was the only presidential candidate in 2016 hosted by the Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere in his Buhikira palace.

However, internal disputes have given rise to independents. In 2019, Saul Maate, the Kasese district LC V chairperson suspended four FDC legislators from the district executive committee accusing them of having ties with President Yoweri Museveni and shunning party meetings. These are Atkin Katusabe, the Bukonzo West MP, Jackson Mbaju Kathika for Busongora County South, Robert Centenary for Kasese Municipality and Woman MP Winfred Kiiza.

Kathika and Centenary have bounced back as independent parliamentary candidates. Kiiza who decided not to seek another term of office decided to join the Alliance for National Transformation [ANT] under Gen. Gregg Mugisha Muntu. Katusabe is battling NRM’s Christopher Kiyonga and NUP’s Fatuma Cassin.

What are FDC’s chances in Kasese Ahead of the 2021 general elections?

The Kasese district LC V chairperson who is also the FDC candidate, Geoffrey Bigogo says the party has been winning in nearly two decades because they were organized and had a good message. He agrees that the party is slightly below where it was in 2016 because of what he regards as “small” internal disagreements they must come to term with.

Bigogo says the absence of Dr Besigye is something party members are dealing with in the district given his charisma and love he had for the people of Kasese. He says Dr Besigye was a lovable character who struck Kasese voters with his passionate message of change and love for the kingdom.

Alfred Ikwera, the leader of opposition in Kasese municipal council says the people of Kasese still adore FDC because of its ideas and mission. He says there are still pressing issues including the return of King Mumbere to his kingdom and that puts NRM candidates at a disadvantage.

Florence Kabugho, the Kasese district FDC Woman parliamentary candidate says the party is still strong at the grassroots to withstand any kind of political pressure. She says the voting patterns in the district are based on social issues that the government has since 2011 failed to address.

Vicente Muhairwa is the LCII chairperson Kahokya parish in Kahokya sub county and of FDC party. He is worried that mess exhibited during the party primaries is likely to cost them heavily. He notes that a number of members were unfairly bumped out of the race simply because they were engaging the government to push for services.

But Jockus Nyamwimba, the Kahokya sub-county FDC chairperson believes disagreements are part of the political process. He believes that the party is still the only hope of the district and that 90% of their candidates will go through.

Read Also: Besigye leaves vacuum FDC cannot fill – Norbert Mao

Roviah Kangume, who doesn’t belong to any political party is worried about the tribal sentiments. She says some candidates may lose because of their sentiments despite their ability to offer good leadership. Philip Muhindo, another FDC member says no NRM candidate can convince genuine FDC members to change their mind.

Geoffrey Kisole, an FDC member says the absence of the party diehard and chairperson Saulo Maate has already affected their mobilization force. Maate has allegedly been out of the office for some time on grounds of ill health. “We heard Maate got ill. So imagine such a man who would command the FDC force being absent,” Kisole said.

The Kasese district NRM party chairperson Christopher Kiyonga says FDC has been riding on the back of the kingdom to garner support. He however says it has become clear to voters that most FDC members were not interested in kingdom matters but only used it to for their political ambitions. To him, NRM is better placed now to reclaim Kasese.