When Mugisha Muntu, the former president of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), called a press conference last week, there was wild speculation and expectation that he was going to announce the formation of a new political party. Having worked themselves up to believe their own speculation, many were then disappointed that Muntu used the press conference to outline the consultative process that he, together with his colleagues, was embarking on in order to chart a course that would advance the values upon which his leadership and campaigns have been founded.

Not one to be rattled by electoral defeat or other political setbacks, Muntu is a very careful, methodical man who considers all options.  Never reckless, Muntu thinks before speaking or acting but is very decisive when he does. And when he speaks or acts, he is always truthful even when it is not politically expedient.

It is Muntu’s insistence on the truth that has partly brought him into direct collision with a faction of the FDC that successfully booted him out of office. One truth that incensed this faction, for example, was that while Dr. Kizza Besigye won the 2016 presidential election, his claim to be the president of Uganda, complete with a “people’s government”, was a delusion that would not change the reality on the ground. Muntu’s refusal to be a “minister of defence” in the imaginary “people’s government” earned him the wrath of those who had already devoted enormous energy to vilifying him and lying to the world that he was a Museveni mole.

The false allegation that Muntu was a Museveni mole in FDC began when he first challenged Dr. Kizza Besigye for party leadership in 2009. The falsehood was again merchandized by the campaign team of Nandala Mafabi, who was a candidate for party president in 2012.  When Muntu won that election, Major Rubaramira Ruranga, who had been Nandala Mafabi’s campaign chairman, bolted back to the NRM and into Museveni’s arms, effortlessly revealing who the real NRM mole was.

The tensions that followed the Muntu-Mafabi contest of 2012 nearly split the party, with the Mafabi faction sparing no effort to undermine everything that Muntu did. Mafabi toyed with the idea of forming a Farmer’s Party, before returning to become secretary general of FDC. Muntu, ever the cool leader, exercised great patience, humility and magnanimity and kept the party together.

Why a “Museveni mole” sent to destroy the FDC would be at pains to keep the party together was never explained by the merchants of the falsehood. They could not, of course, because they knew the truth, namely, that Muntu was one of the most loyal and determined founder members of the FDC.

The allegations of “Muntu is a mole” reached crescendo in the final days of the most recent campaign, uttered by the reckless type and left to float in the air by those who did not have the courage or integrity to unequivocally dismiss them as falsehoods.  The silence of senior party leaders was more telling than the utterances of the usual advocates of “anything goes.”  This silence was a subtle and, perhaps, intended endorsement of the falsehoods.

We know that Muntu’s break with the NRM 13 years ago was total. We also know that President Yoweri Museveni and other NRM leaders recognize Muntu to be a deadlier opponent than the news media and many in the FDC realise.  However, the falsehood about his “mission” has been merchandized so long and hard by his opponents within FDC that some may have begun to believe it.

To be sure, it was a centerpiece of Patrick Oboi Amuriat’s  campaign and may have contributed to the latter’s victory. That Amuriat and his team at Nnajanankumbi now claim a desire to work with Muntu is both hypocritical and a dereliction of their responsibility to protect the party from external interference.

If Muntu is an NRM mole, Mr. Amuriat and Dr. Kizza Besigye have an urgent duty to initiate proceedings to have him expelled from the FDC.  If Muntu is not a mole, the FDC party leaders have an obligation to apologize to him, to the party and to all Ugandans, and state publicly and unequivocally that they deliberately lied about one of the finest political leaders in our country. They cannot have their cake and eat it. They must explain to the country why they lied about Muntu.

Such an apology wold be a positive step in healing a rift that has absolutely nothing to do with the results of last month’s party elections. The rift is a consequence of deception, malice, intolerance, untruthfulness and irreconcilable visions and strategies to challenge and end Museveni’s rule.

The challenge for the FDC is restoration of trust. But how do you trust colleagues who have knowingly and deliberately told lies to win a political competition? Is that the kind of democratic change that the FDC seeks? Gossip as politics? Lies as truth? Truth as evil? Cultism as changed democratic engagement? Aggression as leadership and defiance? Threats as argument? Libel and defamation as a substitute for factual, reasoned debate and comment?  These are some of the maladies that have stretched the FDC towards breaking point.

We must reject the notion that politics is a dirty game. Let us seek a new politics in our country – one that seeks to do good; to say good; to honour and respect all, including our opponents; to tell the truth without fear; to fear falsehood, malice and slander; and to uplift the spirit of the land and effect positive transformation.  It may well mean forming a new coalition to achieve this.






2 Responses to “Mugisha Muntu and the search for clean politics”

  1. I have taken time to follow the goings on in FDC from a safe distance due to personal reasons. The events leading to the election period and the aftermath of the election day have been characterised by severe accusations and counter accusations which in my opinion are only counter productive. I will address myself to the democratic logic of elections.
    The purpose of any election anywhere in the world is for the electorate to choose the best among the candidates that would have freely presented themselves to occupy a given leadership office. This process must have rules that govern it and the process must be transparent and agreeable to the electorate. The FDC organized a scheduled election for its leadership, candidates freely presented themselves to the members, canvassed for votes in a manner that was fair by any standard. No single candidate raised a red flag to question the fairness or credibility of the process even to date. Certainly one candidate had to emerge a winner and that happened to be Patrick Amuriat. I really wonder what did our people especially the elite expected of an election which was fairly free. Was it a must win for Gen. Muntu? If it was so, then why waste people’s time and resources to conduct an election? Why all these negative reactions and threats from the supporters of MM. In my assessment MM is a clear headed guy but his supporters could be more reactionary than the defiance group. If everytime you lose an election in any organization, the solution is to quit, then majority of the population should have left the country long time ago. Personally if I was to vote I would have voted MM, but I would have reacted differently after the loss. Atleast that wouldn’t be my reason for quitting.(Iamnot saying everybody who supported MM is threatening to quit but a good number is.)
    On the issue of branding MM a mole, I really need your help here, who said it, when and where ? Is there a disciplinary procedure in the FDC? Has anybody been brought any accusations of tarnishing MMs name before any organ within the FDC? Who therefore should apologise? And to who? Who has complained and where? I don’t believe that singing it on social media will help a thing. Put your act together, start naming names, and present them before relevant organs with compelling evidence. There we shall know the truth.

    • Muniini K. Mulera

      I am afraid you may have missed the repeated statements made by Muntu and, to my knowledge, all who supported him. We readily accepted the results of the elections. Muntu conceded defeat, congratulated Mr. Amuriat and handed over to him. So I do not know where you get the idea that to us it was a must win for Muntu. For the record, the results of the election have nothing to do with the contentious issues.

      The FDC chose a single strategy approach, namely, DEFIANCE. Mugisha Muntu’s campaign was based on a multi-strategy approach. It was clearly rejected. Those of us who do not support the defiance approach (with the inevitable violence that results) have no room in the new FDC. That is a serious matter that is now engaging our reflections. Individuals will have to make their decisions re: what they wish to do.

      Second, the leaders of the new FDC strongly believe that Muntu is a mole. They have said it. It was central to their campaign. Though totally false, it speaks to the distrust they have in Mugisha Muntu. In a political party, like in any other serious organization, one must operate on the basis of trust. Where there is no trust, you will have paralysis and dysfunction. Muntu was very clear before the election. “If you do not trust me, please reject me and let me go,” he told the National Delegates Conference. He is a man who does not utter words without meaning them.

      I urge you not to trivialize matters that are so consequential to people who are founders of a party for which they have worked very hard. There are certain principles many of us hold dear.


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