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BESIGYE PROTESTS AS HIS MAN CHAPA KARUHANGA QUITS ‘PARISAN POLITICS’

 

By Isaac Wandubile

Having physically been an active participant in the struggles for a better-governed Uganda since his days as a youth leader at Makerere University in the late 1970s, veteran opposition politician Chapa Karuhanga feels now is time to “pull back” and call it a day. For starters, Chapa was as Presidential Candidate against Gen YK Museveni in the 2001 general elections. And was at that time among the crusaders who were demanding for the reintroduction of multi-partism in Uganda.

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As a leading anti-Museveni campaigner, Chapa used to lead a party called the National Democrats Forum (NDF) which mentored future youthful national leaders like Muwanga Kivumbi, GCW Thomas Tayebwa, ex-Makindye East MP Ibrahim Kasozi Biribawa, Ashaph Ntanda and others. In 2006, Chapa’s NDF was one of the political formations that merged to form what became Forum for Democratic Change party (FDC). He became one of the founding pillars of the FDC and even when he wasn’t a candidate himself, Chapa (reputed to be one of the richest cadres of the opposition) was always active in logistically bolstering Dr. Kizza Besigye whose defiance and People’s Government offices continue to be housed at a building along Plot 6 Katonga Road in the upscale Nakasero neighborhood which is owned by Chapa Karuhanga.

This Nakasero property has housed Besigye’s political activities since the days of 2011’s Walk to Work because, having ceased to be FDC President, the veteran politician from Rwakabengo opted to keep away from Najjanankumbi to avoid being seen as attempting to eclipse those who became party leaders after him. Chapa Karuhanga generously offered to share the building between his private consultancy work on one hand and housing Dr. KB’s political activism and defiance activities on the other. Even after the departure of Gen Mugisha Muntu, whose political formation initially attracted many FDC founding elders from Ankole, Chapa Karuhanga stayed put and openly embraced the leadership of Patrick Oboi Amuriat unlike other elders (like Augustine Ruzindana, Amanya Mushega, Richard Kaijuka, Maj John Kazora and others) who became either lukewarm or overtly hostile to the FDC party and its founding President Dr. KB.

Having done all this, Chapa (whose political activism resulted into exile in Zambia in the 1970s where he completed his degree from and is these days more fascinated with economic transformation of African peoples than with belligerent anti-Museveni politics) now feels it’s time to conspicuously disengage from partisan anti-regime politics. He recently made 70 and believes now is the best time to contribute to humanity differently while calling for reconciliation among the country’s political protagonists. He has without a doubt been our ardent reader and friend at Mulengera News; always sending through his comments and views on topical issues in the country.

And a few days ago, Chairman Chapa (as friends fondly call him) reached out wondering why we hadn’t prominently publicized his decision to distance himself from partisan politics going forward. This is how he clarified to us recently in a text message regarding his impending exit from what he called partisan politics: “Whereas, I’m still partly linked to FDC as a former Co-Chairman and senior founder member, I don’t belong to the Red Card. I want to concentrate on designing policy strategies that will see Africa undertake it’s Renaissance through industrialization, education, technological research, etc.” Chapa Karuhanga, whose Nakasero building forfeited the housing of the Red Card Front to Mengo-based Jeema offices, didn’t explain how he intends to impact humanity through industrial renaissance given that Gen Museveni, who he has always perceived to be an obstacle, is still around and very much politically in charge of the country.

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He also says he rejected efforts to stampede him into membership of the top executive for the Red Card Front because those who mooted the idea never adequately consulted him. That he only came to know about the Front “when it was already flying.” That, in his view, the word Front connotes “a military operation” which he wouldn’t be comfortable associating himself with. Beyond the Red Card Front, Chapa says he these days has “reservations about [the opposition’s] lack of coherent ideological line that is espoused by all members.”

THE MUYENGA BD

And Chapa’s intention to disengage from active partisan politics was conspicuously discussed during the Sunday 19th December 2021 celebrations to mark 100th birth day of his mother. Dr. Besigye is among who made conspicuous reference to it. The event was held at Chapa’s home in Muyenga and was attended by his siblings, other family members and close friends like ex-Aswa County MP Reagan Okumu, Dr. Kizza Besigye and fellow FDC founder Richard Kaijuka from Ankole. Like many others, Kaijuka long coiled from the FDC activities in favor of pursuing his business engagements in especially areas like petroleum and mining. He is a prominent presence in the chamber and mines forum where Gen Museveni patronizes many wealthy members of the Ugandan private sector led by ex-Tullow Uganda Chairman Elly Karuhanga.

Whereas Besigye generously spoke at the Muyenga event, Kaijuka (a former Museveni Minister who fell out over term limits in the early 2000s) was cautious in his remarks that reflected on social things more than politics. He among other things recalled childhood memories about Chapa who he praised for generously contributing to the struggle, being a high commitment person and for being a fearless challenger of bad governance in Uganda. Kaijuka also saluted Dr. KB specifically for remaining civil and non-violent in his firm opposition to Gen Museveni and the NRM way of governing.

In his speech, Besigye clashed with Ivan Asiimwe (who is Deputy NRM Chairman for Ntungamo District) but also publicly protested Chapa’s intention “to pull back” from the active anti-Museveni struggle. Chapa later clarified to Mulengera News that whereas Ivan Asiimwe (his friend since the 1980s) spoke on behalf of the NRM, Dr. KB spoke on behalf of FDC to which they both belong. Besigye, who praised Chapa who he said he had closely struggled with since their days at Makerere University in the late 1970s, said he had known the rich activist from Greater Bushenyi to be an activist who isn’t only fascinated with freedom and justice but also one always prepared to physically fight in defense of his ideals and beliefs.

“I’m glad I have known Chapa as a freedom fighter who genuinely believes in justice and in a just system and equal rights. And he is always prepared to fight for that justice though I now hear that at 70, he wants to pull back. I’m here to advise you my dear Chairman Chapa not to do that because you can only pull back at your own peril because the injustice will follow you wherever you are. You had better hang around and we fight until we get that justice,” Besigye implored Chapa attracting applause from the gathering which also had religious leaders who had earlier on led the gathering in thanking God for the old woman’s life.

Besigye also challenged the clerics to use the daily prayers they preside over at their respective stations to amplify the cause for a better-governed country “by calling on us to wish each other justice because without justice, even the peace you keep preaching to us about will never take root.”

The retired Colonel also mocked Ivan Asiimwe for coming off in his speech as an extreme lover of NRM and Gen Museveni (who he praised in his speech) because in 1980 he was an avid supporter and campaigner of Milton Obote whose UPC functionaries specialized at torturing youngmen like Besigye himself simply because they put their life on the chopping board by vigorously campaigning for Gen Museveni. Besigye implored Ivan Asiimwe to calm down because there is no way he can claim to love Museveni more than him who stood by him and risked going to the bush to join his rebel forces at a time the man from Rwakitura materially had nothing to write home about.  (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us atmulengera2040@gmail.com).

 

Besigye takes on Ivan Asiimwe, the Ntungamo vice chairman, who represented NRM at Chapa Karuhanga mum’s 100th BD celebrations.

 

 

 

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