THE Democratic (DP) Party has come under accusations that it is sabotaging a plan by the opposition political parties and pressure groups to form a coalition.
Judging from Paul Ssemogerereâ€™s recent remarks, DP prefers a â€œco-operationâ€ and would discuss a coalition during the electioneering season in 2006.
On other hand, Sam Njuba, Reform Agendaâ€™s deputy chief, argues that the parties and pressure groups â€“ DP, the Uganda Peoplesâ€™ Congress, the Conservative Party, the Free Movement, the Justice Forum, the Reform Agenda and the National Democrats Forum (NDF), will not be viable as long as â€œwe are a pack of divided opposition parties.â€
It might not make a big difference to a casual observer that DP is opposed to a coalition. A coalition would, among other things, mean establishing a unified leadership and a secretariat. Parties would have a common strategy, issue joint statements, organise public rallies and meetings.
But under a co-operation, parties would operate as separate entities and only coordinate on certain activities.
There are obvious reasons why DP is opposed to a coalition. DP leaders believe that some people from the political groups are opportunists with absolutely nothing to offer.
A well placed DP official opposed to a coalition cites a recent incident whereby one of the political groups was represented by a delegation of unknown characters at the retreat for the representatives of the seven parties held in Jinja. The leader of the delegation reportedly had a girlfriend embedded in his delegation.
Another sign of opportunism reportedly became evident when some individuals from the seven political parties reportedly proposed that Government pays them allowances as members of the delegation holding consultations with a team headed by Dr Crispus Kiyonga, the National Political Commissar. They reportedly argued that taking part in the consultations was a â€˜national dutyâ€™ for which they deserved to be paid by Government.
The DP leaders are uneasy that a coalition, which includes the UPC, would be a political liability, although UPC still has support in parts of the country and has the capacity to raise substantial campaign funds.
The DP splinter group led by Francis Bwengye has categorically stated it will not wine and dine with yesteryearâ€™s murderers. In the 1996 presidential elections, Paul Ssemogerere faced a lot of criticism from within DP over his alliance with the UPC. Critics have argued that Ssemogererereâ€™s dismal electoral performance in the central region in particular, was a consequence of this alliance.
The Movement exploited the alliance by portraying Ssemogerere as a mere front for Obote. Learning from Ssemogerereâ€™s blunder, Col Dr Kizza Besigye, reportedly advised UPC stalwarts to keep a low profile and stay away from his rallies. The DPs are at pain to avoid repeating the 1996 mistake.
As of now there is no way the popularity of each of the seven groups can be determined. If they were to form a coalition, all the seven groups would be treated as equal partners and Nsubuga Nsambu of CP, Kibirige Mayanja of Justice Forum, Chapaa Karuhanga of NDF and Ssemogerere of DP would all have equal claim to the coalitionâ€™s leadership.
In effect the little political groups, without any visible following, would be like the proverbial chameleon who rode on the tail of a lion in a marathon race and later claimed victory without sweating for it at all.
The DP is not prepared to let the political chameleons ride on its back and later claim victory on a sliver platter.