The post-election row in the opposition Forum for Democratic Change has taken an intriguing twist: the losing candidate, Nathan Nandala Mafabi, says the new party president, Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, got financial backing from his bush-war comrade Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, the minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
In an eight-page petition lodged with FDC Chairman Sam Njuba last week, Mafabi's team says that Titus Kisambira, an 'aide' to Otafiire, doled out money to delegates on polling day at Namboole Stadium and urged them to vote for Muntu.
"He [Kisambira] was seen giving out money to people, and promising that if they voted Gen Muntu, then his colleagues in NRM would join FDC," the petition reads in part.
Though the petition does not state the amount of money Kisambira allegedly distributed, it gives the impression that Muntu's team was in cahoots with some people in the NRM. Otafiire denied playing any part in Muntu's election, dismissing the allegations as wild.
"I know him [Kisambira] but he is not my assistant. He is a poor man who does not have money. He works at the Pan-African Movement where I happen to be the chairman," Otafiire said.
The outspoken minister said he could not have had any interest in FDC's election, poking fun at The Observer's lead story that suggested that Muntu's victory had excited some senior army officers (see: Muntu win excites top army officers).
Otafiire said: "I do not like anyone [in the opposition] because they are all the same. Whether it is Muntu, Mafabi or Otunnu, there is no difference."
On his part, Muntu said he did not know Kisambira and was not aware that money changed hands.
"For me, I was inside; I could not have known what took place outside. You can ask those in charge of security to get you more details," Muntu said.
The gravity of these accusations and others contained in the petition illustrate the severity of the rift and the level of mistrust between Muntu and Mafabi's teams. Efforts to reconcile the two have so far failed, with Mafabi insisting that certain grievances have to be resolved before he can work with Muntu.
Muntu defeated Mafabi by 33 votes during the November 22 election at Namboole.
According to the petition, Team Mafabi has asked Muntu to apologize for allegedly referring to Mafabi as a scam and hypocrite during one of the campaigns.
"We would wish to know what General Muntu meant by "scam and hypocrite" in reference to Mafabi. This was definitely abusive, showing total disrespect to his opponents...Team Mafabi finds this totally unacceptable especially when Muntu cannot prove that one of his opponents is indeed a scam and a hypocrite. How can he, [Muntu]work with a scam in a party? Not even President Museveni has made such a derogatory insult to Dr Kizza Besigye."
They have also renewed their call for the resignation of Alice Alaso, the party secretary general. Alaso is blamed for "orchestrating the rigging at Namboole."
"Ms Alaso hijacked and eventually monopolized the electoral process thus bringing the fairness and transparency of the elections into disrepute...we found out that Hon Alaso used her personal printer to print accreditation tags for all her agents, observers and invited guests.
The people given tags were not the ones approved by NEC. She gave tags to State House operatives and Muntu supporters who caused mayhem to our agents," the petition reads in part. Mafabi claims that not a single observer from his team was accredited yet "very many Muntu delegate supporters and Alaso's relatives were accredited and entered as observers and many even ended up voting."
In conclusion, Team Mafabi said the ground was not level. "These matters must be "heard" by the select "truth and reconciliation" committee expeditiously. The results of the hearing will determine our future course of action," the complaint concludes.