25 November 2012

Uganda: Why Nandala Lost to Muntu in FDC Top Race

After a three-month hard-fought battle, Nandala Mafabi on Thursday lost the bid for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidency to Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu.

Muntu defeated Mafabi with a margin of 33 votes. Mafabi accepted defeat, saying at 46 years, he still had more opportunities in the party.

As Besigye later summed it: "Winners never quit and quitters never win."

So, as Mafabi prepares another come back, his camp must internalise why they lost.

Personality of Muntu

Muntu's personality was an asset. He is perceived by many as mature and diplomatic.

He is seen as number nine in the FDC 'football' team who can lead the team to the State House.

On the other hand, Mafabi is seen by many as a good defender, who cannot play number nine in the team. In defense, he can play better number two and, on the striking line, number eleven or seven. He is more dependable at setting the ball for number nine to score.

The Besigye factor

Although Besigye never came out publicly to support any candidate, many believed he backed Mafabi quietly.

Besigye's close allies in the party were campaigning for Mafabi. They included Moses Byamugisha, a youth winger, Kyandondo East MP Ibrahim Semujju Nganda, the Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago. Others are Busiro East MP Medard Segona and Betty Nambooze.

Some people believe that Besigye favoured Mafabi for the presidency because he was more likely than Muntu to step aside for him in the 2016 race for the party's flag-bearer. Those who wanted a new face for FDC, went with Muntu.

Regional imbalance

Although Mafabi is popular in several districts in eastern Uganda, the number of delegates from the region was too small to counter Muntu's strongholds. Mafabi swept votes from delegates who came from Sironko, Mbale and the neighbouring districts, but he could not beat Muntu's in western and central Uganda.

The two regions had the biggest number of delegates.


Many delegates in FDC thought that Mafabi was already reaping from the party as a leader of the Opposition in Parliament.

So most of them thought it was wise for him to keep his post in Parliament and let another top party official serve in another capacity, and also share the benefits of being in a leadership position.

Lack of articulacy

Some delegates say that during the recent public debate, Mafabi failed to be articulate on a number of issues, like the foreign policy.

A delegate said that whereas Muntu commended the role UPDF has played in Somalia, Mafabi said the soldiers had done nothing and they should pull out.

On the same issue, Kampala Woman MP, Nabilah Sempala, noted that Ugandans are educated and listen to who has the best issues than politicisation.

EALA polls

Mafabi made radical decisions after the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) elections that earned him some enemies. Nearly all FDC MPs blame him for expelling MPs from the other political parties from the shadow cabinet.

They accuse him of taking the decision as an individual without any consultation. By doing so, they feel he disrespected other MPs and little wonder that most of them supported Muntu.

Military background

To date, there are FDC supporters who believe that a person who can defeat Museveni should have a military background.

Unfortunately, Mafabi has all the other required academic and professional skills apart from the military. Although Muntu has not been taking part in the opposition's city demonstrations, FDC supporters think he can endure teargas and bullets, and that he may command respect before security personnel.

The sympathy vote for Muntu

Muntu had lost twice to Dr. Besigye both for the party president and as the flag-bearer. But, there was no single moment; Muntu showed he was bitter with anyone.

Instead, he disappeared for a while and then bounced back to campaign for Besigye and other party candidates in the general and by-elections. During the recent campaigns, Muntu asked the electorate to test him with victory.

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