Many in the opposition have scolded Kitgum Woman MP Beatrice Atim Anywar and a Member of the FDC for allegedly betraying her party by nominating John Patrick Amama Mbabazi from the NRM Go Forward camp as he seeks to uproot President Yoweri Museveni in 2016.
Anywar first publicly announced her support for Mbabazi during the botched negotiations under The Democratic Alliance (TDA) at Silver Springs hotel a few weeks ago where she castigated her party’s flag bearer Dr. Kizza Besigye for failing to deliver power through his successive but so far unsuccessful bids for presidency.
So while her sponsorship of Mbabazi at Namboole this week may have angered many in FDC, it was hardly unexpected.
Unlike the Democratic Party which struck an agreement to back Mbabazi, Anywar’s FDC remains strongly opposed to Mbabazi alliance especially on the notion that Mbabazi and not Besigye should lead the alliance.
But Anywar says she is tired of being a perpetual opposer and loser and that time has come for her to get into power.
Talking to The Sunrise a few days ago Anywar said that while she remains committed to FDC, she is free to support whoever she wants in the coming elections.
Despite naming her son Kizza Besigye and her continued claim that she is a firm founding member of FDC has not spared her from criticism by her fellow members in the party.
Diaspora-based FDC supporter Abbey Kibirige Ssemuwemba argued that Anywar’s support for Mbabazi is a vote of no-confidence in her own party.
Ssemuwemba posted on his Facebook page: “Hon. Betty Anywar was wrong to publicly endorse JPAM [John Patrick Amama Mbabazi] when she’s still in FDC. If you belong to a party, and your party has a candidate in an election, then your vote is not just for the candidate, but for the party as a whole. Loyalty matters. Faith matters. A record of service matters. These traits, expressed over time, give weight in other people’s minds to your opinions.”
Prominent human rights lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi dispels the view that Anywar betrayed her party.
“It’s not betrayal. I think she genuinely wanted to support Mbabazi and it’s her right.” Rwakafuzi adds: “You cannot have permanent supporters. In politics, you cannot keep supporters under lock and key and you must expect to win new ones or lose old ones. And I think it would be unfair to condemn her, in any case they are getting support from elsewhere.”
In fact some argue that Besigye didn’t manufacture his own supporters in 2000 when he quit NRM but rather relied mostly on opposition supporters from other political parties.
But at a personal level, Rwakafuzi argues he feels that Anywar was wrong to have accepted to be used by Mbabazi to sponsor him at Namboole.
Asked as to whether Dr. Besigye feels betrayed by Anywar’s position, Rwakafuzi notes that the FDC flag bearer understands that everyone is open to persuasion.
“Dr. Besigye is himself not angry with her. He has always said that anyone can be persuaded to support whoever he or she favours,”
But Anywar is not alone in arguing that Besigye has probably outlived his relevance as a viable and strong contender for elections.
Indeed a considerable number of people believe the best chance for defeating Museveni in 2016 is through an alliance. Proponents of this line of thought have been sympathetic to Mbabazi who has pushed for an Alliance. FDC on the other hand say they are not opposed to collaboration but that they are better suited to lead the alliance because of their proven country-wide support and existing structures.
Alex Kyeyune, a former Kizza Besigye supporter in the previous elections says time has come for the opposition to embrace change by giving someone else the chance the face Museveni. He says Besigye’s three unsuccessful bids for the top job is enough.
It may be argued as well that the recent Supreme Court ruling that entrenched the power of independent thinking vis-a-vis the views of a political party could have provided further incentive to Anywar to take divergent positions from those of her party.
While Anywar may get a sense of satisfaction that she exercised her right, there is no hiding the fact that her decision could still cost her support especially among angry voters who may feel betrayed.
Sources say that FDC leaders have mounted a retaliation plot against Anywar by supporting one Denis Oneka for the Kitgum Municipality Constituency seat that Anywar wants to contest.