Nathan Kikku Mubiru: Time Is Up, Besigye – You Are Not That Guy Anymore

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By Nathan Kikku Mubiru

Here we are again. Another Katonga post-mortem centered around the attention of one man in particular.

It’s a rather appropriate ritual given how their performances were at the behest of one man, in fairness. You live by Kiza Besigye, you die by Kiza Besigye. Once again, Katonga were stuck with inglorious death.

FDC eliminated Katonga at the countrywide consultation stage of the face of Ugandan politics 2024, prevailing after what can only be described as ‘a match of competitive political discourse that took place’. Trust me, it was numbingly but painfully exhausting.

For the second round running in West Nile, Katonga went the whole session trying their best to feed their leader. It wasn’t quite as honking as his disastrously wincing showing in Mbale, but it was pretty damn close.

Besigye cared little about progressing the discourse and trying to get his supremely talented co-leaders involved – a sentence that has been written again and again and again for two decades. Even when he did receive the floor, he was once more wasteful. His standout moments were pounding the podium from a tight angle straight into the wall when it would have been infinitely better to yield to compromise instead, and then soaring his rhetoric from a few yards out in the extended session.

That was the end of his highlight reel, and that should be the end of this iteration of Katonga.

Besigye has only one breakthrough in 21 national consultations of major dialogues, which is a bit of a problem if your whole system is designed to get him to speak.

The noise and fanfare that follows Besigye makes it hard enough to deliver under extreme pressure, but the reality is he is that same famed politician in name only.

Katonga have bundles of top-level political talent in their ranks – Wafula Oguttu, Ssemujju Nganda and Erias Lukwago to name a few. Yet they were reduced to mere extras in the one-man show, and they should all feel aggrieved at that kind of casting.

So much of Wasswa Birigwa’s energy has been put into trying to devise an environment which accommodates Besigye, yet for all of the propaganda they spread on their way out of the party, it counted for little when the going got tough. You can’t construct a team like that anymore, and Besigye isn’t the kind of leader you would want to do that for anymore.

Birigwa not only failed to perfect that system, but he allowed Besigye to get away with political murder without repercussion. Even his former president, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, found joy in expelling Besigye
In that sense, Birigwa is responsible for Katonga’s collapse. In another, it’s Besigye for not accepting a lesser role. It’s a political problem that can’t hold the team to ransom any longer.

There should still be a use for Besigye, but it likely – even if wrongly – hinges on whether he is willing to accept it. It starts and ends with him. He lives and dies by himself.

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