Opinion: FDC Coup & Counter-Coup Vindicates Museveni’s Iron Grip On NRM

FDC Wrangles: Nandala Mafabi Fires Ssemujju Nganda

By Samuel Akaki

I, Kizza Besigye’s former international envoy to the UK and the EU (2001-2016), who mobilized considerable international support with a view to getting rid of Museveni, I have to pinch myself to believe that I am actually writing this:

FDC would be a failed state if it were a country – a country where everyone & no one is in charge, has lost its ability to govern, cannot maintain legal sovereignty, and experiences a breakdown in political power, leading to a state of anarchy.

By contrast, love or loathe Museveni, he seems to have understood the Ugandan psyche better than all politicians, past and present. His iron grip on the NRM and, by extension, the populace, has afforded Uganda a semblance of peace and stability for the last 37 years.

What could happen after Museveni’s biological term limit is an open question. That question is not if, but when Gen Muhoozi will become the next president.


Milton Obote, Yusufu Lule, and Godfrey Binaisa would tell you that we, Ugandans, are ungovernable under Western-style democracy, thanks to intrinsic tribalism and corruption.

We need a big man, alternately waving a stick and carrot to keep a delicate balance between anarchy and order in the country.

But even Museveni is now increasingly losing that balance to the tribalists, the corrupt fortune-hunters, self-styled prophets, and freelance gunmen, who are making a living at the expense of the poor in the north, east, south, and west.

Let me elaborate on the toxicity of fortune-hunters with the benefit of my experience in FDC.

In May 2005, I was one of those who traveled to Krugersdorp, South Africa, to persuade Kizza Besigye, then in exile, to come back and lead a campaign to bring about the first-ever peaceful change of government in our history.

It was clear from different speakers that there were several different sets of delegates at the three-day event.

There were fortune-hunters, the majority, one of them, a former NRM MP, boldly told the conference that “white ants always follow the light”, which was Kizza Besigye, a president in waiting.

There were others looking for a new government and position to settle their personal and political scores with Museveni.

There were government spies.

And there was one honest man, Major John Kazoora, who bluntly told us he did not want Besigye to lead the new political party formation.

Finally, there were the committed reformists, some of whom did not show up in South Africa for strategic reasons.

The absentees were the discreet Godfathers to the Reform Agenda, men and women, who had played crucial roles in Dr Besigye’s narrow escape from his besieged rented Luzira home to South Africa via a stopover in London in 2001.

We left South Africa in high spirit, not least because Dr Besigye had agreed to return home by October 2005. I had also given the conference concrete evidence of support, which I negotiated with several entities in the UK.

This was soon formalized in a Memorandum of Understanding with British Conservative Party, signed by Professor Latigio, Gen Muntu and Salamu Musuma.

The MOU opened more doors: Besigye to become the first African opposition leader to meet a sitting British Prime Minster, David Cameron; Professor Latigo the first African LOP to address a Conservative annual party conference, and FDC become a member of the International Democratic Union of centre right parties including the Christian Democratic Union of Germany and US Republicans.

Crucially, I was assisted in London in drafting the 2006 FDC election manifesto, which officially won 39 parliamentary seats. But EU and Commonwealth election observer reports indicated that Besigye would have won if there had been a clear distinction between the NRM and state.

The Supreme court ruled against Besigye by a narrow majority.

Immediately and unsurprisingly, a trickle of fortune-hunters started leaving FDC to go fortune-hunting in the NRM.

After the 2011 election, the trickle became a flood flowing from FDC to the NRM.

Fast forward to July 20th 2023, and you find the remaining fortune-hunters staging a violent coup to kick Besigye out of FDC.

What else can it be, if not a coup, the alleged hostage-taking by the anti-Besigye FDC party president and Secretary General of the pro-Besigye FDC chairman, Ambassador Chairman Wasswa Birigwa?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, distressing images of a profusely bleeding female journalist, spoke volumes about the coup in FDC!

Then came the counter-coup, a few days later, when a pro-Besigye FDC youth gathered at his Katonga Road office to demonstrate their disdain for the anti-Besigye Patrick Amuriat and Nathan Nandala Mafabi?

This FDC cup and counter-coup must be casting serious doubts in the minds of local and foreign investors as well donor countries, who were looking at FDC as an alternative government to the corruption-ridden NRM administration.

What peace and stability, leave alone the rule of law, so vital for sustainable development, would such a violently fractious party give to restore hope in this restless country?

If the ongoing accusation and counter-accusation of corruption is any evidence, what prospect is there for reconciliation in FDC?


This leaves FDC a firmly divided party, only united in their common denunciation of Museveni and his family, a selfish campaign tool to win undeserved votes from the desperately poor population.

It also leaves Besigye facing a stark choice: keep on flogging a dead horse, which is FDC, or abandon it, resurrect Reform Agenda and hold it with an iron grip.

I still have in my file, a copy of the 2001 Reform Agenda policies, so popular they shook Museveni to the reality that the NRM was ripe for reform.

Today, as Museveni grows older and transition looms ever closer, the need for Reform Agenda has never been more urgent.

Samuel Akaki

London and Apac municipality

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