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Uganda: New Muntu party takes shape, recruits members

KAMPALA. Three weeks after the former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) president, Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, quit the main opposition party in the country, new developments have emerged on plans towards unveiling a new political party.

On September 27, two days after announcing his decision to leave FDC, Gen Muntu unveiled the New Formation as a group that would transit into a new political party. He assured Ugandans that the new party would be unveiled before December 25.

The name, symbols and colours of the new political party are still kept secret among the key players.
Ms Alice Alaso, one of top leaders of the New Formation, yesterday revealed that since last month, there have been a series of informal meetings to work on the new party constitution and other paperwork.

Ms Alaso, the former FDC secretary general, also said she has been convening the meetings because there is no formal structure yet.

“Our meetings are set up as and when the convener tells the members that there is something on table to be discussed. I chair the meetings as the convener the same way I did at the unveiling of the New Formation,” she said.

The former Serere Woman MP said formal meetings will start next week as the key players, most of them senior politicians, members of the academia, legal experts and members of the private sector, will be fine-tuning the first draft of the constitution.

Ms Alaso declined to disclose the identities of the key players and their roles.
“That (identity of top leaders) is not important at the moment. What is important is for those members to sit there and generate ideas towards building a strong political party.

None of the elected leaders is part of them but I can assure you we have people in academia, legal field, the private sector and politics,” she said.

Insiders in the New Formation, who preferred anonymity, told this newspaper that Gen Muntu is playing a coordination role to reach out to different categories of people that he wants to work with.

They say Ms Alaso, who is always at the New Formation offices in Bukoto, a Kampala suburb, is playing the role of a national coordinator although not formally appointed to it.

Recruitment
Sources said the New Formation is recruiting members on voluntary basis despite having plans to reach out to nationally recognised politicians who may wish to work with the new party.

“This party is not looking at bringing down another party but we are willing to work with anyone out there so long as they buy into our ideology,” the source said.

Ms Alaso said their target is to launch the party with a membership of at least 20,000 people in December. The members, she said, are being recruited by the district coordinators, some of whom are former FDC chairpersons.

She said they are having good interactions with the new members via the website and social media.
A series of training have been planned for communication officers and coordinators from across the country.

At least 58 people were trained in Kampala last week on how to communicate the message of the New Formation in the mainstream media and on social media.

Ms Alaso said the trainings are focusing on passing clear and civil message on what the new party stands for.

“We are giving a direction on the quality of the message to tell the public since there have been some people who have been going to the media to distort our message out there. We are looking at civility of mobilisation by not being confrontational,” she said.

Some of the core members of the new group

Stephen Ochola. He is the former Serere County MP in the 9th Parliament. He was one of the people that accompanied Gen Muntu to the meeting with FDC president Patrick Amuriat Oboi at Fairway Hotel in Kampala where a report from the countrywide consultations was tabled. Mr Ochola was among the top officials at the unveiling of the New Formation.

Mary Francis Kabateraine: She is the managing director of Kabateraine Memorial School in Mbarara. The former Mbarara Municipal councillor has been a staunch mobiliser of the FDC in Ankole sub-region.

Yokasi Bihande. He represented Bukonzo East, Kasese District, in Parliament from 2007 to 2016. Mr Bihande, who is the husband of Ms Winfred Kiiza, the former Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, served as Kasese District chairperson between 1996 and 2006. He chaired the organising committee that planned the unveiling of the New Formation.

Margaret Pauline Namagembe. She has been a staunch member of FDC and contested for the Wakiso District Woman MP seat in 2016 elections but lost to State minister for Education Rosemary Seninde.

Miria Matembe. The former Ethics minister fell out with President Museveni in 2005 when Parliament amended the Constitution to lift the presidential term limits. Currently a woman rights activist, Ms Matembe is one of the core teams behind the New Formation.

Wilberforce Seryazi. He is a practicing lawyer in Kampala and has been a mobiliser for FDC in Wakiso District. Sources say Mr Seryazi is one of the key people in handling the drafting of the paperwork for the new political party, working with other legal experts behind the scene.

Mr Seryazi was the moderator of the press conference at which Gen Muntu unveiled the New Formation.

By Daily Monitor

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