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Muntu sets terms to remain in FDC

Maj Gen Gregory Mugisha Muntu would prefer to remain a part of the Forum for Democratic Change, not necessarily in a leadership position given his loss of the presidency at the heated November 24 election, but still as part of the process for change.

However, the opposition party under newly elected president, Patrick Amuriat Oboi, will have to tolerate ideas other than Defiance as a single political philosophy for that to happen. Gen Muntu spoke to Baker Batte Lule last week.

Gen Mugisha Muntu

What has been your greatest contribution to the party?

The stability and cohesion in the party; the management of different tendencies in the party and the development of branch networks more especially the youth and women leagues. When I took over, they were only at the national level.

When we took over, we started from the grassroots and now they are at the national level. Then, of course, the branch networks but we didn’t reach where we desired to reach unfortunately.

Yes, many don’t understand me but with time they will. I’m patient that as time passes, people will understand me more and more.

Some say it’s hard to understand you when you work with people who are close to NRM like Anita Among

That is one of the reasons people have been raising. Anita in 2015, during the flag bearer elections, didn’t support me.

She supported Dr Kizza Besigye. I don’t know why people think that a person should be blamed when she is working with one person, and not the other.

She wasn’t working openly with Museveni then…

Well, I think she worked with him even then…. how do you know?

What do you make of last month’s election?

The delegates made their choice and I respect it because I’m a democrat. When it comes to election outcomes, I’m not quarrelling. It didn’t even come to my mind that I should contest it. That’s a settled matter.

The only issue is how to manage the different tendencies. The best way was to keep on managing both, and that was the platform on which I campaigned; such that some people concentrate on defiance and others concentrate on party development.

But the delegates chose that there was going to be only one strategy; defiance. I don’t get it; I don’t know how that is going to work.

Why don’t you give it time?

I don’t see it in my mind; I have been at the party headquarters for five years and I can tell you I don’t see how it can work. It can work in terms of demonstrations but if you don’t develop the party, what happens?

Suppose you get to 2020 and defiance hasn’t removed the regime, then what happens when you are going for an election and you have not prepared the party?

That’s what happened in 2015; neither did defiance work nor did we take up leadership through an election. We were not successful on both fronts because we were not prepared on both fronts.

Some people say you are hiding behind ‘consultations’ yet you want to separate.

That is what I mean exactly! If it means separating, we can separate; I don’t see any problem if we reach that conclusion.

Why would we not split if we find that you can’t have stability; that you might spend another five years in-fighting and remain weak.

Why would we do that? Why not move in different formations and concentrate your efforts in what you believe in and support the other side when it is necessary. Whichever works, we change the system.

Why then are you seeking to reimpose a strategy the delegates rejected?

There are people dying out there in the countryside; our focus is how do we salvage this country? As leaders, we are supposed to look beyond what people choose. At times people can make mistakes in their focus and analysis.  

I have made many decisions in my life that people never understood. I went to the bush at 23 years yet I was coming from an area that was literally UPC. People thought that I was a nut but they came to understand that the decision we had taken was the correct one.

I separated from the Movement in 2004; people thought it was wrong. We formed a new party… They didn’t understand, now they say we made the right decision. At times when you reach crossroads, as leaders, you must make a decision.

If you’re right, you will be absolved by time. If you’re wrong, you pay the price for it. If you are a leader, you don’t fear risks. But you must also be sure that you’re not making any decisions out of fear, out of anger, frustration or [similar thing].

You must ensure that the decision you make, however difficult it might be, is the correct decision.

Some say that the structures which the general talks about are only in his head …

How could we concentrate on building structures when all the time we were in Najjanankumbi debating whether the two tendencies can work together?

This sucked energy out of us because there was always internal strife. We should avoid going through another three years of the same because 2021 is here.

Many FDC members wonder why NRM people seem most hurt by your defeat.

I don’t make decisions depending on what people think. Every time we make decisions we must expect outcomes.

But there are also many FDC leaders, not only NRM, who keep on telling me the same thing; that look, these strategies can work alongside each other.

How would you be different from the Katonga group (Besigye loyalists) you accused of running parallel structures?

If we choose to stay within the party, then we will not carry out parallel activities. I don’t operate like that. I can’t act the way they were acting.

Those colleagues fought me for five years. If I find that there is no way we can do activities which are different from what they want to be done, then we will have to separate ways so that they don’t use me as an excuse. I don’t want to be seen as if I’m undermining the efforts of a leader. I would rather operate from the outside.

Many people say you are a very decent man but they can’t say the same thing of some of your allies…

Tough as it might be, we must ensure that there is communication on each side. In the last five years, it has been tough trying to hold the different groups together.

It requires strong leadership skills. We haven’t made a decision yet; we are still processing it. If we decide to separate, we must deal with the outcome of this separation.

We must work closely with those who are in the party. If we decide to remain in, there must be a lot of efforts to try and calm down those who don’t believe in the decision that was taken either way. There must be a lot of efforts to ensure that we manage the aftermath.

If you chose to split, would you want your supporters to join you?

There is no way you can force anybody. That’s why there needs to be a cooling down period so that whoever chooses to go a separate way does it not out of emotions but from a clear analysis that this is the correct decision.

bakerabatte@observer.ug