We Can’t Disclose Our Funding Source to Public – FDC President Amuriat

In the midst of growing infighting and tension within the Forum for Democratic Change party-FDC, the Party President Patrick Amuriat Oboi has revealed that he will not disclose their source of funding to the general public.

FDC, one of the leading opposition political parties, is currently preparing for internal polls, but recent disagreements and opposing factions have intensified with one of the points under scrutiny being their financial affairs.

Party spokesperson, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, who has openly expressed his reservations about Amuriat and the party Secretary General Nathan Nandala Mafabi challenged the president to declare the origin of a sum of money which he alleges is in billion Shillings that was brought into the party during the 2021 general elections from an unknown source, even unbeknownst to top party leaders.

The money is suspected to have come from President Yoweri Museveni and Ssemujju insists that to dispel the feeling, Amuriat and Nandala should be transparent enough to disclose the source of the money used during the elections. Ssemujju says the money was never officially brought into the party and hence, hasn’t been accounted for.

Replying to him, Amuriat who called a special press briefing on Wednesday afternoon maintained that there are several reasons for keeping the source confidential, one of them being to protect the founder’s identity. He says the party has operated under this non-disclosure policy for years.

According to the Political Parties and Organizations Act, parties must submit a declaration to the Electoral Commission disclosing the sources of their funds and assets. Section 12 of the Act specifies that this declaration should include “a statement of its (party’s) accounts, showing the sources of its funds and the name of any person who has contributed to the funds, including contributions by persons who are not citizens of Uganda, membership dues paid, donations in cash or in kind, and all the financial transactions of the political party or organization conducted through, by, or with the head or national office of the political party or organization.”

Amuriat acknowledges that such declarations are made to the electoral commission, but he insists that they cannot be publicly spoken out. He however clarified that the money in question was borrowed on approval of a working committee and National Executive Committee chaired by then FDC Deputy President in charge of Buganda Joyce Semuggwawo.

He says it was approved to borrow interest-free money from a “friendly source” which was done and that the money was properly utilized and accounted for the party structures. He also says the party accounts were audited by the electoral commission and no queries were raised.

Nevertheless, it’s important to note that, as per the Political Parties and Organizations Act, members of the public have the right to access this information from the electoral commission by paying a reasonable fee prescribed by the commission.

It has been alleged that in 2020, the FDC kept some money with Dr Besigye but that the same wasn’t asked back, hence raising questions as to the source of funding for the elections. During the same press conference, FDC Secretary General Nathan Nandala Mafabi explained that they had kept over 300 million shillings with Dr Besigye after he, Nandala learnt that Uganda Revenue Authority had instituted an agency notes on his bank account.

So to avoid the money being taken away from his account, he says, the money was withdrawn and kept with Besigye. And, that the money was given back by Besigye and used to pay agents used during elections. He said those peddling accusations against him and the party president are selfish fortune seekers who wish to use party structures for their own benefit. He added that if they were true members of the FDC, they should have used internal mechanisms to address their grievances.

Questions about “suspicious” money brought into the party were first raised in 2020 by former party president and founder Dr. Kiiza Besigye. During the November 25th-26TH 2022 National Council Sitting, Amuriat says Dr. Besigye re-echoed that he had received intelligence regarding money brought into the party illicitly.

The National Council then resolved to establish a committee to investigate the allegations. According to Amuriat, the committee led by former Kagoma MP Dr. Frank Nabwiso has since concluded its investigations and shall table its findings during the forthcoming National Council meeting scheduled for 28th July 2023.

Upcoming elections

The controversy over the money has left the upcoming FDC elections in balance. On 14th July 2023, the FDC National Chairman Wasswa Biriggwa suspended the elections set for July 21st until the National Council sits and resolves on issuing regarding the electoral roadmap, a report from the party electoral commission on readiness to conduct a free and fair election and a report from the Nabwiso commission.

Top members including Semujju and FDC Deputy President in charge of Buganda Erias Lukwago are also opposed to the elections until the money issue is resolved. They also say that the party electoral commission is not ready to conduct the elections.

However, the Party president Amuriat says that the National Chairman doesn’t have the power to suspend an election. He said the party electoral commission is set to start the elections and that registers at the grassroots level are already sorted, waiting for the election.

As the bickering continues, Amuriat says Semujju and his likes shall be subjected to disciplinary action for their actions that have tainted the image of the party. For now, the public shall wait to see how the elections shall go, whether they are conducted successfully or not as the National Council also awaits to receive the Nabwiso report on 28 July.