On September 22, 2023, Dr. Kizza Besigye, a prominent figure in Uganda’s opposition and a four-time presidential candidate, revealed why he did not support Patrick Oboi Amuriat as the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate in the 2021 elections.
Besigye’s decision was based on concerns about the source of undisclosed campaign funding, which he referred to as ‘dirty money.’
In the lead-up to the 2021 general elections, the FDC faced internal disputes related to allegations of undisclosed campaign financing. Party president Patrick Oboi Amuriat and Secretary General Nathan Nandala Mafabi were accused of receiving substantial sums of money from President Museveni, although they denied these allegations.
Besigye explained that the ‘dirty money’ came from the same source they were opposing in the elections, which raised serious concerns for him.
He stated, “The absence of a campaign management team, along with the money coming from another candidate like President Museveni, convinced me that this election was not genuine. It was not a campaign I was willing to risk and put effort into, so I chose not to be part of it.”
Besigye mentioned that attempts were made to address this issue before the elections, but they were unsuccessful.
He also noted that the absence of a campaign management team for the presidential candidate further confirmed his concerns.
In 2018, Besigye had a meeting with senior party leaders and informed them that he would not be a candidate in the 2021 general elections. He advised them to find an alternative candidate. However, he was surprised that his advice was not followed, and Amuriat was chosen hastily at the last minute.
After Amuriat became the candidate, he initially established a campaign bureau led by Ambassador Wsswa Birigwa. However, the campaign bureau was later disbanded, and there were no plans to reinstate it.
In response to Besigye’s statement, the committee summoned FDC Secretary General Nandala Mafabi. Dr. Frank Nabwiso, the committee chairman, questioned Mafabi about the allegations of receiving ‘dirty money.’ Mafabi clarified that the party faced a financial crisis before the 2021 General Elections, requiring approximately UGX 2.7 billion.
The National Executive Committee had authorized him to borrow funds to support party activities during that period.
Mafabi also revealed that they had approached Besigye to help raise funds, but he requested a budget that they provided, yet he never responded.
Mafabi emphasized that his efforts to mobilize resources were for the benefit of the party, and he presented evidence of a bank statement indicating a withdrawal of UGX 500 million from his personal account.
Regarding the disbandment of the campaign bureau, Mafabi explained that the bureau’s budget was inflated to an excessive amount of UGX 130 billion, while the party struggled to finance basic activities. The decision to disband the bureau was made by the presidential candidate, Amuriat, and the party’s administrative staff took over the assigned activities.
Amuriat had recently revealed that Besigye asked him to support the National Unity Platform’s Robert Kyagulanyi during the 2021 general election. Amuriat expressed disappointment in Besigye, as he had hoped for his support but campaigned without backing from the FDC Katonga faction.
Although FDC continues to value Besigye’s advice, Amuriat stated that there is no guarantee they will implement everything he suggests.
The party is currently divided into two factions due to disagreements arising from the undisclosed source of funding offered to Amuriat and the party’s secretary general.
On September 19, the Katonga faction ousted Amuriat and Mafabi, replacing them with their deputies Erias Lukwago and Harold Kaija. However, both Nandala and Amuriat were nominated on September 21 by the Najjanankumbi faction in an attempt to retain their positions for another term.