FDC Will be the party to beat in the West after Museveni's exit.

By Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba

Dear editor,
I did not wish to comment on the recently releases polls by the Daily Monitor because I never take polls done by newspapers very seriously but i was tickled by messages from some Ugandans who seem surprised that Besigye has got a lead of 35 per cent in western Uganda. In any case, I think Dr.Besigye should be with an overall bigger % than what the Daily Monitor poll gave him, because i believe that prresident Museveni is not that popular anymore. I also believe that the Daily Monitor feared to be whacked into some form of a demand for ' an apology' if they had gone ahead with a headline like: 'New poll puts Museveni vote at 33 per cent''. The current government is very good at demanding apologies from media outlets if things do not go their way, as exemplified by the hosting of Dr.Otunu by some radio station in the north.

Nevertheless, I think FDC has started eating into Museveni's support in the western region and the results in all by-elections so far have been showing this. For instance, Jack Sabiti was the second after the NRM Candidate in Rukingiri by elections, and the gap was not as big as before. Yes, most westerners are satisfied with the status quo but some are not happy with the way they are perceived by the rest of the country, and this may be one of the factors why FDC may do well in 2011. For instance, the Buganda riots last September depicted a country divided along tribal lines, and the biggest casualties were unfairly westerners. I'm saying 'unfairly' because some of these westerners have genuinely worked hard to be where they are at the moment.

FDC and Buganda
I also think that FDC is gonna do well in Buganda next year because of the internal friction in DP. I have heard voices of some people in Buganda saying that they will never vote for Norbert Mao even if he kisses the hot flat iron. Ironically, Mao and his supporters have continued to brush this off by simply calling it old tribalism which had embedded DP for a long time. To be fair to him, DP's strongest base has always been Buganda as Lango is for UPC, but a good leader does not increase party support by alienating the traditional base of that party. Probably, Mr. Mao is not as intelligent as we are made to believe by some people, because he has been approaching the internal problems in DP with a lot of confrontation and overrelying on courts rather than mediation. Atleast,UPC's Dr.Otunu tried his level best to give Obote's son a post in his administration, as a way of keeping the Langi happy, before the later selfishly turned it down.

The most important thing for FDC now, as regards to the Buganda vote, is to first of all, work with Mengo and all DP candidates in the region who are IPC friendly. For instance,Honourables:Nambooze and Erias Lukwago, have been working with Besigye for a while, and i see no reason why this relationship wouldn't continue. Erias,specifically, has been sometimes acting as Besigye's lawyer in some of the cases brought against him by the government. Nambooze was also supported by Besigye when she needed help most: in her sickness and in the recently concluded Mukono byelections.Surprisingly,DP's Mao was awol at all times when Nambooze needed help most.

Where is the FDC traditional base?
Sometimes people say that because Besigye cannot beat Museveni in western Uganda, he therefore does not deserve to be given support elsewhere in the country, but this is what the Baganda call 'OKOTOGERA'( sabotaging in English). President Museveni has already declared himself the 'king' of western Uganda.So it becomes difficult for a ''commoner'' to fight the king within his territory in such a short time.In most cases, as history shows, one normally needs help elsewhere outside the kingdom to disloge the king. Therefore, nobody expects FDC to take over western Uganda for the little time they have been in existance as a party since 2004 when FDC was founded.Admitedly, even some in FDC accept that this will not be achieved in their life time or as long as president Museveni is still in power, but they have not given up hope or trying for future purposes.

Let us also remember that western Uganda used to be traditionally DP and UPC as confirmed by Museveni in his book: ''Sowing the Mustard Seed''. Bahima were traditionally DP supporters before NRM and Museveni changed this. The Bahima supported DP for historical reasons in Ankole. Just before independence the Protestants who were sharing power with the Bahima Protestants wanted to snatch power from the Bahima aristocratic system (Obugabe of Ankole). Therefore, the Bahima allied with the Catholics to foil the Bahiru protestant move. When DP was therefore formed in the 1950s, nearly all of them joined DP. That's how the Muhiru prime minister, Nganwa, was toppled in 1962 and replaced with a catholic called Kabeirebo John.

On the other hand, Obote's UPC also used to have a a lot of support in areas such as Bushenyi and among the Bahiru, but this was also changed when NRM came to power. UPM which later came to be called NRM, started with the recruitment of several Banyarwanda and Bakiiga into FRONASA in the 1980s because there were being discriminated by the Obote government- using guys like Chris Rwakasisi who was so powerful at the time.

Will FDC ever come up with a majority in western Uganda?

Yes, they will probably will when Museveni is out of power. Realistically, I cannot see this happening in the next 10 years because human nature dictates that' if something sweet is in your mouth, you don't throw up but continue enjoying it'. Most westerners already feel confortable with president Museveni and see no reason to 'throw up'. But this situation will change in future and FDC will benefit, just like the north is slowly opening its gates to other parties other than the UPC.The fact is that the future looks bright for FDC unless something happens drastically.Both Old parties and NRM will always watch their backs as long as FDC keeps getting stronger because it is behaving like a cow not locked in a paddock. When a cow is not locked in a paddock, it feeds on everybody's plantations in the village, and nobody likes that. This kind of cow tends to produce a lot of milk at the end of the day if the villagers dont kill it. So the question is:' will other parties ever be able to build paddocks for FDC?'. I guess not.

Byebyo ebyange
Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba