MLN – Ugandans are gonna be in for a shock when the Statehouse talks end and FDC marries NRM officially. Walls can talk.
|The New Formation leader Mugisha Muntu (centre) is surrounded by his supporters after he announced his intention to form a new political party last year. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA|
On September 27 last year, two days after he had made public his decision to quit the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), where he had made several futile attempts to get himself to become the party’s presidential candidate and been president until Mr Patrick Amuriat Oboi handed him a shocking defeat, Gen Mugisha Muntu announced that he was forming a new political party.
The organisation, which he simply referred to as “The New Formation”, would be up and running within less than 90 days from then.
“We hope to launch the new formation before the December 25, ,” he declared during the press conference at Hotel Africana in Kampala.
If the statement that he issued on September 25 detailing the reasons why he quit FDC is anything to go by, the decision to form a new political party was aimed at filling an apparent vacuum occasioned by dashed hopes inside existing political parties in both the Opposition and the ruling NRM.
He argued that the calls for the formation of a “third force” that followed his spectacular loss to Mr Amuriat and the rising number of MPs and other political leaders who are not aligned to the NRM or any other political grouping was testimony that quite a sizeable percentage of the population is weary of the ruling NRM, but distrustful of the current crop of Opposition parties and politicians.
Those, he seemed to think, would along with many youths who are critical of government, but sceptical of the Opposition be happy to embrace a new formation.
Ms Alice Alaso, a former secretary general of FDC who quit the party along with Gen Muntu and has been coordinating most of the work, has previously been reluctant to reveal the name or symbols of the party.
“Why can’t you wait until we are gazetted by the Electoral Commission (EC) to avoid speculation?” she told Sunday Monitor in November last year.
Sunday Monitor has, however, established that the team has now zeroed in on the name Alliance for National Transformation (ANT), but that ANT was not unveiled before Christmas must have come as a bid disappointment. What is it that is holding it back?
Last week, Gen Muntu posted on his Twitter handle that the party is waiting for “official gazetting by the Electoral Commission,” adding that “as soon as they (EC) give the green light” the promoters will start the process of unveiling ANT and recruiting members.
However, failure to beat the promised launch date was first communicated by The New Formation on December 12.
“We are unable to launch before December 25 as earlier projected,” the statement reads in part.
“Similarly, the unveiling of our name, logo, policy platform and other instruments of identity for the party will be done only after getting the registration certificate from the Electoral Commission,” the statement further reads.
One of the requirements for registering a political party is the submission of a list of names and addresses of at least 50 members of the organisation from at least two thirds of the districts of each of the traditional geographical regions of Uganda. Those sponsors must be residents or registered voters in the district.
In their statement, The New Formation team said the signatures were submitted to the EC on December 7 last year and that it expected that process to be complete by December 31 last year. That too has not happened.
Ms Alaso told Sunday Monitor last week that the EC is in the final stages of completing the process of verification of signatures.
“We submitted signatures from at least 120 districts and the EC has cleared over 90 per cent of them,” she said.
The problem though is that the process of verification seems to be taking too long. The spokesperson of the EC, Mr Jotham Taremwa, insists that there is nothing new about how the process is going.
“Those who have registered political parties before will tell you that it is a process. It can be long and drawn out,” he explained.
However, word in the grapevine is that some of the signatures could have been collected in an unethical manner. There were allegations that lists of names of those who attended the countrywide consultative meetings that Gen Muntu held between January and September last year could have been used to facilitate the registration process.
The source revealed that it was because of these complaints that the EC opted to adopt a much more analytical approach to the verification exercise.
Mr Taremwa declined to be drawn on this insisting that the EC had to do due diligence on every person and signature.
“We are verifying the signatures. We are using our field teams to see that the people exist and also confirm that they signed up. What if some people come up and sue you claiming they were never party to it?” he said.
One of the regulations around the registration of parties provides that, “On receipt of the application the commission will embark on the registration process and may cause independent inquiries to be made to ascertain the truth or correctness of particulars submitted with the application.”
The same also provides that “The Electoral Commission shall process the application within six months,” which suggests that it is still within its time, but Mr Taremwa has since indicated that while the verification is entering the home stretch, it is not the only thing that has been holding up the launch of the new party. He actually blamed some of the delays on the promoters of the party.
“We are nearing completion (of the registration process), but the promoters also have some submissions as required under the law, which they have not yet submitted to the EC,” he said.
He declined to be drawn on what the promoters have not provided the EC, insisting that the promoters were the best placed persons to answer that, but a source within the commission has since indicated that the promoters have not fulfilled the provision of regulation three which requires them to file with the EC a declaration of assets and liabilities of the political party.
Ms Alaso dismissed that assertion insisting that all the documents had been filed in time.
“I have no notice from the EC as of this (Wednesday) morning that anything is missing. All the requirements of the law have been fulfilled,” she said.
Given the ping-pong one wonders who is delaying the process. Is it the EC or the promoters of The New Formation? That, however, should be the least of the worries of any of the sympathisers of the new party or fans of Gen Muntu.
The biggest worry for most people though, is that Gen Muntu has been conspicuously invisible and inaudible since the year began.
The NRM’s top honchos have been in northern Uganda where the central executive committee (CEC) passed a resolution to have the party’s chairman as the party’s sole candidate for the 2021 presidential elections.
In the middle of this month the former president of FDC and four-time presidential candidate, Col Dr Kizza Besigye, announced a reshuffle in the people’s government at a highly publicised event which also attracted politicians from Opposition parties like the Democratic Party (DP).
DP president Norbert Mao has also been on the move opening party offices in Gulu and attempting to hold rallies in Jinja. The Jinja event may have been blocked, but he maintained visibility.
The former army commander neither picked calls to his known mobile number nor returned them. He also did not respond to text messages from this reporter. The text messages had been in search of answers about the progress he and his organisation were making in trying to make a mark on the political landscape.
An FDC legislator close to Gen Muntu has since revealed that he has been out of the country.
“He has not been around. Besides having engagements in the US, he also needed to take a sabbatical,” the legislator said.
His followers do not believe that it will cost him. They argue that the politics of noise making or confronting the police and other security forces is not their style.
“Mao has been running all over, but how much mileage has it given him? Confronting the police in order to make it to the evening news is not very useful. Similarly, Dr Besigye is running ahead of us, but his defiance campaign does not resonate with very many people. You can achieve change by peaceful means. See how much discomfort the Engule song is causing people in government! That is the way to go,” the legislator said.
The legislator thinks that while other people, especially in the Opposition, think that those in ANT must be making noise, they believe that this is not a time to sharpen the voices and make so much noise.
It is a time to sharpen the points and tell people about ANT as a vehicle for transformation.
So when will Gen Muntu come out to start talking about that national transformation?