Muntu and Mafabi clashed on Thursday over the former's letter to the Clerk of Parliament withdrawing party secretary for mobilisation Ingrid Turinawe as a contender for East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) seat.
Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) president Mugisha Muntu and the secretary general Nandala Mafabi have spent almost two years trying to portray a picture of party unity.
However, the past few days have delivered the exact opposite. Muntu and Mafabi clashed on Thursday over the former's letter to the Clerk of Parliament withdrawing party secretary for mobilisation Ingrid Turinawe as a contender for East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) seat.
In trying to withdraw Turinawe's name, Muntu did not give Parliament reasons but said the party would only retain one contestant—former Kaberamaido Woman MP Florence Ibi.
His letter was, however, not signed by Ingrid and Mafabi as required by the rules of procedure of parliament if anyone is to pull out of the race.
Well aware of this, Ingrid took social media route immediately after Muntu's letter came to media attention to criticize her president's move, something analysts say was a brutal slap in the face of the party president.
Dr. Frederick Golooba-Mutebi, a political analyst, says all this raises questions about the internal workings of FDC.
"Did those with the mandate to do so decide and agree collectively that the party should have two candidates? It seems as if not. Was there a collectively agreed process through which the decision to withdraw Turinawe's candidacy was made? It seems not," he says.
Golooba asks whether FDC has a code of conduct governing the nomination of individuals to contest for any elective position.
"It seems not. If it does, it seems as if it is not respected by everybody. Is the FDC leadership able to impose discipline on party members? It seems not. Is the FDC a cohesive party? Evidently not," he says.
Crispin Kaheru, the Coordinator of the Citizens' Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda opines that the clashes raise questions around how sturdy and functional FDC's internal democratic structures are.
"The communication (voices) from the same political party is contradictory and raises question marks on the party's internal decision making processes as well as the coherence with which the party communicates its decisions," Kaheru says.
He observes that this particular occurrence has raised question marks with regard to the party's ability to read, internalise, interprete and act based on existing or stipulated parliamentary rules of procedure.
"The way some party members and leaders have handled this issue easily points to either a weak or absent internal conflict resolution mechanism.
It casts the party in bad public light that it is unable to resolve emerging issues internally without recourse to or appeal to public sentiment or sympathies," Kaheru argues.
FDC delegates conference
Ofwono Opondo, the Government spokesperson, says it's not a secret that FDC has two clear factions, one pacifist led by Muntu, and the other, an extremist and belligerent wing by former presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye which he says they have been at pains to deny.
"However, we think the two factions are now coming into the inevitable reality of a head-on collision especially as their delegates conference approaches later this year to change leadership. This could lead to either a total fallout, paralysis or quiet withdrawal by those who don't want public confrontation," he says.
Opondo argues that either way, FDC will take long to plot a more viable political path that can make it stronger than is today.
"It is certainly not earning the respect of the other opposition parties which is necessary for them to effectively hold NRM into check, and it's bad for Uganda," he contends.
Ssemujju thinks otherwise
Ssemujju Nganda, FDC spokesperson, says there have been disagreements but what is important is what someone does after those disagreements.
"We had elections between Muntu and Nandala and I think people thought the FDC had ended there. But because of the desire to continue battling together, Mafabi came back as the party secretary general," he said.
He pours cold water on the opinion of those who expect FDC not to have differences in opinion and sometimes even disagreements that can spill over.
"Once you have the competition within a party it will always have two camps emerging. That is why you have campaigns. If there are three, then there will be three. And I don't absolutely see any problem because at the end of the day whichever group wins the election will run the party and the other group will support it," Ssemujju says