4 January 2013

Uganda: Now Njuba Stuck With 'FDC Mafabi'

The team of the defeated FDC presidential candidate, Nathan Nandala Mafabi, is growing jittery with the sluggish way the party chairman seems to be handling their petition.

The group has disputed the conduct of the electoral process in which Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu was elected FDC president in November 2012. A party official who campaigned for Mafabi said the inactivity or dilly-dallying by Sam Njuba suggests that there is a ploy to fail the petition. However, the official says they will not give up until they have been listened to.

"The elections happened in November. Apart from the meeting we held on November 22, there has not been any other meeting. They are frustrating us," said the official who did not want to be named.

The official added that Mafabi has openly expressed his discomfort over the pace of events to insiders. However, other sources in the party said the biggest stumbling block in addressing the petition relates to preconditions set by Mafabi. Those conditions include the resignation of the secretary general, Alice Alaso, and the elections chief, Dan Mugarura.

Yet it is unlikely that Alaso, who is also Woman MP for Serere, will resign, leaving Njuba in an awkward position. In their petition, Mafabi and his supporters accused Alaso of masterminding their defeat at Namboole Stadium through a series of decisions that they claimed favoured Muntu.

"Ms Alaso hijacked and eventually monopolised the electoral process, thus bringing the fairness and transparency of the elections into disrepute," the petition reads in part.

"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."

Mafabi claims that none of his observers was accredited for the elections yet "very many Muntu non-delegate supporters and Alaso's relatives were accredited and entered as observers and many even ended up voting."

Matters have not been helped by the recent comments attributed to the party chairman, Sam Njuba, to the effect that he had rejected conditions put forward by Mafabi and his group.

"People are not fair. Why do they bring conditions? These are just allegations which cannot be used to force people to step aside or resign. It is up to the individuals in those offices to resign on their own if they feel it is necessary," Njuba was reported to have said.

The former minister and Kyadondo East MP was non-committal about the status of the reconciliation process when we reached him yesterday.

"I will announce at an appropriate time [the progress of the talks]," Njuba told The Observer.

Maj Rubaramira Ruranga, who headed Mafabi's campaign task force, declined to comment on the latest developments, insisting instead that the media is out to destroy the image of the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament.

"You people have an agenda against Mafabi," Rubaramira charged. "I know you can deny it but we see it in your reporting."

The petition

In the petition, Mafabi argues that without their grievances being addressed, no genuine reconciliation can take place. Among other demands, they want Muntu to apologise for allegedly referring to Mafabi as "a scam" and "hypocrite" during the campaigns.

"We wish to know what General Muntu meant by 'scam and hypocrite' in reference to Nandala. This was definitely abusive, showing total disrespect to his opponents...Team Nandala 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."

The complainants insist these grievances must be "heard" by a select "truth and reconciliation" committee expeditiously, adding that the outcome of the hearing would determine their future course of action.

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