IBRAHIM SSEMUJJU NGANDA, the spokesperson for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), has said the resolutions made during the extraordinary delegates’ conference held on Katonga road recently are legally binding.
He said Nandala-Mafabi and Patrick Oboi Amuriat are no longer serving as the party’s secretary-general and president, respectively. In an interview with Muhammad Kakembo, FDC’s Ssemujju acknowledged the possibility that Mafabi and Amuriat might receive state protection to maintain their positions. However, he emphasized that if they do so, they would be acting as impostors
How would you describe the events at Katonga, where resolutions were made to relieve senior party leaders of their roles?
In 2020, when funding came in from Mus seveni, it became clear that our fight was not just against Nandala and his team, but also against the state itself. They are merely agents of the state. In every contest against them, they employ ‘Kifeesi,’ who work alongside Deputy Inspector of Police Katsigazi.
They lack genuine FDC supporters to back them up. If they truly represented the majority sentiment, we would have stepped aside. We remain engaged because we have loyal FDC supporters who have looked to us for leadership for years and are now urging us to act to save the party.
We fight Museveni with the full awareness that he has financial backing, as well as the support of the police and military. The risks we face fighting him are the same risks we’ll encounter confronting his agents. Is our resistance legitimate and legal? Absolutely. We have followed due legal processes. They can take the matter to court if they wish, but we will have fulfilled our responsibility.
When we informed the police about our upcoming meeting, we knew they might try to stop it, but the law requires that we notify them. So, we are adhering to legal protocols for now. Once those are exhausted, we will continue with political action, just as we do in our struggles against Museveni.
They argue that the extraordinary delegates’ conference, which relieved them of their duties, was illegal because a court order had already halted it. The individuals who took the matter to court were Nandala and Amuriat, essentially suing themselves. Their lawyer, Julius Galisonga, had also been involved in administering oaths to FDC leaders, whom we believe were illegitimately selected by Nandala.
The people who initiated the court action were acting as Nandala’s coordinators. Nandala was well aware that the court would likely issue an interim order if requested, as there would be no compelling reason for the court to refuse.
Furthermore, they deliberately chose not to include Wasswa Biriggwa (FDC party chairman), the meeting’s convener, in the legal proceedings. This was likely to make it more difficult for the judge to issue an order against the meeting. Consequently, the court order was directed solely at Nandala and Amuriat, bypassing Biriggwa.
When Biriggwa sent Lukwago to represent him, the judge clarified that Lukwago had no standing in the matter. As such, if I am not directly involved, then the court’s rulings do not concern me either. This left Nandala and Amuriat unable to enforce a court order that was, paradoxically, against them.
In fact, they could be subject to legal action for failing to prevent the meeting from taking place, which might explain their decision to hire Kifeesi for support.
They are planning to hold a delegates’ conference next month to elect new leaders, seemingly unfazed by the actions taken at Katonga
Legally, their actions have no ramifications, but in the political sphere, they do, especially since Present Museveni is likely to enforce their decisions. According to FDC’s rules, only the chairman can convene a delegates’ conference. The public knows that FDC leaders are elected at such conferences, which can only be called by the chairman.
What they’re doing now, claiming to convene a meeting for electing new leaders, seems to be a manipulation of the law. This is similar to the way they previously sued themselves. Fortunately, we have already removed them from their positions. They argue that the delegates who gathered at Katonga were not legitimate representatives, having been replaced in recent elections. Therefore, they claim that any actions taken during that meet- ing hold no consequence.
Why, then, did they go to great lengths to prevent the meeting from taking place? Why did Nandala write to the police, who in turn issued a letter stating they would not provide security for the meeting? If the meeting has no legal consequence, why did they hire 250 Kifeesi to stop it? Their actions are self-defeating and indicate desperation.
How do you move forward after this?
Once the chairman has convened a meet- ing and a resolution is passed, the next step is to submit it to the Electoral Commission, which regulates political parties. We will undertake these processes, and it will be up to state institutions to continue supporting Nandala. However, they will find it challenging because today’s actions will have consequences for tomorrow.
Are you not concerned that you might be heading in the same direction, where even if one group is clearly illegitimate, the state continues to recognize it as the legitimate one?
We understand that when you’re fighting against the state, it will use force and all other institutions to thwart your efforts. The question is whether to continue fighting despite these obstacles or to concede due to their overwhelming power.
We’re prepared to face every roadblock that comes our way. The difference between the FDC and other parties like the UPC lies in the base of their support. While James Akena may not be the legally elected president of UPC, his faction have popularity in specific areas, which allows them to continue their operations.
In contrast, FDC has a more diversified support base; we’ve seen MPs from various regions like Acholi, Buganda, and Kasese defying Nandala-Mafabi and refusing to work with him. If the state chooses to protect them, they risk diminishing the FDC to the point of irrelevance.
They would face the same fate as Norbert Mao’s Democratic Party, which might not even have a single MP in the next election. The stronghold of the Democratic Party is in Buganda, but the person who has taken control is from Acholi. So, the identity and strength of a party depend on its base of support. Museveni’s attempt to co-opt the FDC could have the unintended effect of ultimately destroying it.
What do you plan to do if FDC ends up where DP is?
The challenges we’re facing aren’t unique; we’ve been through similar situations before. When A4C [Activists for change] was declared illegal, we didn’t give up; we formed 4GC [For God and My Country] as an alternative platform for our struggle. If the FDC name is taken, the resolve of the people to continue fighting will not wane.
I would be disheartened if Museveni managed to sway FDC supporters to his side, but if he only takes Nandala and Amuriat, the true FDC supporters will continue to oppose him, regardless of the colors they wear. For me, what matters most is the spirit of the fight, not its superficial aspects.
On a personal note, I have no great desire to be at the FDC headquarters in Najjanankumbi, which currently feels like a ghost town. The party isn’t defined by a building or a stamp; it’s defined by its people. I recently heard a senior member say that he’s aligning with Amuriat because he has the FDC stamp. But what’s to stop such a person from defecting to Museveni, who controls far greater resources like the Bank of Uganda? The focus should be on the cause, not the symbols.