AboutUs Home CHAT forums AboutUs Feedback CHAT Specials Disclaimer Sitemap Disclaimer
Kampala Hotels & Gorilla Safaris


Offers affordable



For your


May 22, 2008
Onzima tests FDC's resolve
Party will bark but not bite

By Edris Kiggundu
& David Tash Lumu

When Alex Onzima embraced President Museveni, offered him a gift and showered him with praises during his recent visit to the West Nile region, the Maracha MP knew what was to follow.

Yet a week later, he remained unbothered.
“Politics is about bargaining for allocation of resources. If you bargain and the other party responds positively, you also behave accordingly,” he said in an interview, expressing no regret about his actions.
Those who know Onzima well say he is a very complex politician who sometimes “acts tough” and other times appears “simple and friendly”.

Yet like a rope that derives its strength from its feeble-like appearance, so does Onzima from his mixed persona.
For this and other reasons, FDC is undecided on how to prevail over him––unsure how this will affect the party’s political fortunes.

At the moment, FDC’s reaction has been limited to criticism of the legislator’s behaviour by leading party officials, including the Leader of the Opposition, Prof. Ogenga Latigo, and the Spokesperson, Wafula Oguttu.
Both have implored Onzima to resign his seat and run on an NRM ticket–– if he is ‘man enough.’
None, however, has talked of expelling him from the party and Oguttu emphasised in an interview that expulsion will not be an option.

Political analysts say FDC cannot punish Onzima because of a number of reasons.
First, Onzima, who has been in Parliament for the last 12 years, remains popular in Maracha County and the West Nile region; that is why the party made him its Vice Chairman in charge of Northern Uganda. As such, they cannot tell how his supporters will react.

Secondly, FDC has never punished any other ‘rebel’ member, and given the instrumental role Onzima has played in marshalling support for the party in the sub-region, the odds are that he will go unpunished.
Dr. Fredrick Golooba-Mutebi, a researcher at Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR), argues that Onzima has put FDC at crossroads.
“It is a big dilemma for them because punishing Onzima would be risky politically,” he said.
“He still has a big following.”

According to the party’s Code of Conduct, FDC can deal with Onzima in five ways.
They could caution him, he could be stripped of party office, he could be made ineligible to stand for party office; he could be fined or expelled.

FDC predicament

Yet Onzima is not the first FDC legislator to have his allegiance to the party questioned.
In 2006, Aruu County MP, Odonga Otto, fell out with the party after he walked away from the Appointments Committee, without FDC’s approval.

Otto later resigned as Chairman of the party’s Youth League and later authored an article in the papers criticizing his party.
Last year, Kampala Woman MP, Sempala Nabilah attracted the ire of his party after she was adjudged to be hobnobbing with NRM.

While presiding over a Women’s Day event in Kampala, Nabilah is said to have praised the NRM for elevating women.
This did not go down well with his party and the situation was aggravated when she began skipping some of the party’s weekly NEC meetings.
The situation gets trickier for FDC in that some of the rebel MPs seem to have the moral support of their colleagues.

For instance, in Onzima’s defence, Arua Municipality MP, Godi Akbar of FDC wrote this week in The New Vision: “We should learn from Onzima’s action. He should be heard and not rebuked because of his statement.”
Onzima fell out with FDC after what he perceived as the party having sided with Kassiano Wadri over the location of the headquarters of the newly proposed district, Nyadri.

Onzima prefers Maracha, his constituency while Wadri wants the headquarters located at Terego.
Oguttu says the matter would have been settled but Onzima has not attended party meetings for the last two years.
Movement hang-over

It is unlikely that internal bickering in FDC–or any other political party for that matter––will abate soon.
Part of the reason is that many MPs are still coming to terms with the multi-party system, adopted in 2006.
Under multi-partyism, MPs are expected to operate within the confines of their parties and toe the party line however unreasonable it might seem.
This is unlike the Movement system where individuals followed their conscience and took positions based on their judgment.

Already in NRM, MPs Henry Banyenzaki and Dr. Sam Lyomoki have run into trouble for increasingly taking positions on the floor of Parliament, deemed to be contradictory to the party line.

In the UPC, some members, including influential MPs Cecilia Ogwal (Dokolo) and Ben Wacha (Oyam North) stood as independents and recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the FDC– after feeling sidelined by their party.

For being strict on member behaviour, some members have taken this to mean that parties are muzzling free speech and stifling debate.
Yet however aggrieved, MPs cannot do entirely without the parties under whose platforms they got their political positions.

In many ways, parties play an instrumental role in the election of the MPs and some like NRM are believed to have spent heavily on facilitation.
In fact, it is arguable whether some of the ‘rebel’ MPs would have made it to the House without being affiliated to some political party.

For instance, in the West Nile and Acholi sub-regions, voters disaffected by government’s failure to end the LRA war, simply voted for opposition candidates.



State House borrowed Sheraton cooks
Chogm roads mess
Onzima tests FDC's resolve
Businessman wants to return Muslim land
Zimbabwe a good case of Africa's failed democracy
Otafiire fails to sort out Ssembabule mess
Peer review: labour conditions appalling


Cranes form-guide
Breakfast at Nakivubo’s
Disabled all through
Arrested development
Maroon-ed in murky waters
Table turned in basketball
Csaba in numbers


Untitled Document
Untitled Document