Kampala — Eight months after quitting the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), the party's former president Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, yesterday launched his Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) party and unveiled a 17-member leadership structure.
The launch of the ANT at Kampala Serena Conference Centre was attended by various Opposition leaders and parties who included Democratic Party (DP) president Norbert Mao, Conservative Party president John Ken Lukyamuzi, Uganda Peoples Congress president Jimmy Akena and the People Power movement leader Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine. There were about 20 MPs including two former leaders of Opposition-Prof Ogenga Latigo and Ms Winfred Kiiza.
However, officials of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party, and the biggest Opposition party Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) did not attend the launch although the ANT organisers said they had been invited.
The ANT interim leadership is headed by Gen Muntu as the national coordinator.
He is deputised by former Serere District Woman MP Alice Alaso, who is in-charge of Finance and Administration, and Makerere University lecturer Nyanja Musoke, for operations and mobilisation.
Former FDC electoral commission chairperson Dan Mugarura will oversee elections in the new party. Former Oyam North MP Martin Okumu heads research and policy; former Uganda ambassador to the United States Edith Grace Ssempala heads the Women League while Abubaker Matanda heads the Youth League.
The party also unveiled a three-member Elders Team led by former Bukonzo East MP Yokasi Bihande, who will work with veteran lawyer Dan Wandera Ogalo, and Toronto-based Ugandan physician, Dr Muniini K Mulera.
Sources close to the ANT national coordination team say a group of men and women who retired from politics will play an advisory role although they were not officially unveiled. Sources said this include former East African Community Secretary General Amanya Mushega, former Ethics minister Miria Matembe and Maj John Kazoora, among others. The trio attended the launch.
The party also unveiled its symbol, colours, flag and the slogan. The symbol is a lighting electric bulb which they say implies the party will shine in all corners of the country.
The party's colour is purple which stands for peace and the flag has purple, orange, red and white colours. The slogan is "People First- A New Future"
In his address, Gen Muntu said ANT party will work with other parties and movements for political change in the country.
He said they will embark on immediate nationwide mobilisation and recruitment drive.
Gen Muntu said ANT leadership is in consultation with DP, Justice Forum and Bobi Wine's People Power movement adding that there are many "good" Ugandans who have feared to join politics because the actors have not given them hope.
He castigated the NRM regime for failing to plan for the country's future. He said ANT's policy agenda envisages a Uganda where young people are empowered to become innovative and match the development pace in the world.
"There are many smart young men and women who are amazing. No one is planning for them (because) the people in power are only fronting self-interests and have sunk the country. We would like to assure the youth that they will come through on this... ..," Gen Muntu pledged.
Tanzanian youthful MP Upendo Furaha Pendeza, who was the keynote speaker, asked Ugandan Opposition political actors to work together in organising the citizens for change.
Ms Pendeza, a member of Tanzania Opposition Chadema party, said for a new political party, ANT should preach equity, democracy and unity besides building structures.
"We want change that will keep Uganda safe. If people lose because of your lack of organisation as a party or movement, then they will lose trust," Ms Pendeza warned.
Speaking shortly after the function, Bobi Wine said much as he does not intend to register a political party, his People Power movement is comfortable working with ANT.
"We are together with Gen Muntui, we are together with the defiance group and we have to use all ways to ensure that Ugandans get their freedom," Bobi said.
DP president Norbert Mao welcomed Gen Muntu's call on political parties changing their approach to politics in order to attract professionals. The ANT promoters drafted an alternative policy agenda if their party ever gets into power. The policy agenda has been documented in a booklet distributed to guests.
In the policy pact, the party promises to change the Constitution to remove executive powers from the office of the President and instead vest it in state institutions, which they say have been destroyed by President Museveni's regime.
The party also seeks a "radical change" in the education and health sectors to match the standards in the developed world. The party pledges to review the education curriculum; retrain teachers and pay them better salaries; equip health centres and improve the welfare of medical works.
With Uganda grappling with a high unemployment rate, the new party identified innovation and skills development for priority investment. The ANT pledges to fund innovation and skills development by tapping into the unutilised potential among the youth. Other policy changes focus on agriculture, land management, promoting equality and managing vulnerability, industry and manufacturing, and tourism.
Who is who in ANT
Maj Gen Muntu (National Coordinator). He is the immediate former President of FDC. He had earlier served as the party's Secretary for Mobilisation before replacing Dr Kizza Besigye, who retired from the party's top office in 2012. Gen Muntu is also a former army commander. He also served as Uganda's representative in the East African Legislative Assembly.
Muniini K. Mulera (Elder)
Hailing from Kigezi sub-region, he is a Ugandan consultant surgeon based in Canada. Dr Mulera is a known political commentator, who has discussed issues back home through his column "Letter to a Kampala Friend" in the Daily Monitor newspaper.
He was an ardent supporter of FDC where he served as a member on different committees. He announced his resignation from FDC through his regular Daily Monitor column in August last year.
Wandera Ogalo (Elder)
He is a senior lawyer with Victoria Advocates and Legal Consultants in Kampala.
Mr Ogalo was Bukholi South delegate in the Constituent Assembly which made the 1995 Constitution. He was also one of the lawyers, who represented former FDC presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye in a presidential election petition against President Museveni in 2006. He has also represented Uganda in the East African Legislative Assembly.
Edith Grace Ssempala (Head of Women League)
She trained as a civil engineer before working as a civil servant and a diplomat who served Uganda in the US, Nordic countries, Ethiopia and Djibouti among other missions.
In 2015 she jumped ship and joined the Go Forward group led by former prime minister Amama Mbabazi who contested in the 2016 presidential elections and lost. She also served as director and senior adviser at the World Bank.
Alice Alaso (Deputy National Coordinator for Finance and Administration)
She is former Secretary General of FDC, who walked away with Gen Muntu from FDC after a heated election in 2017. Ms Alaso has for the past several months been known as the convener first with the New Formation and until yesterday with ANT since its registration in March. She is former Serere District Woman MP.
Many say as a deputy coordinator in-charge of administration, she is tasked with work equivalent to a Secretary General.
Yokasi Bihande (Elder)
He is former MP for Bukonzo East in Kasese District. He was in Parliament until 2016 after joining as a result of a by-election in 2007. He is a husband to Ms Winfred Kiiza, Kasese District Woman MP and former Leader of Opposition. He also served as Kasese District chairperson for two terms.
Nyanja Musoke (Deputy National Coordinator for Operations and Mobilisation).
He is a senior lecturer at Makerere University. He is little known in politics but is mostly known as a researcher with many years of experience.
Christine Abia (National treasurer)
Ms Abia is former Woman MP of Arua District. Most recently, she was the campaign manager who together with People Power delivered the victory of Kassiano Wadri as Arua Municipality MP. She had lost her own seat in 2016 parliamentary elections.