Dr Kizza Besigye, the former presidential candidate and one of the founding fathers of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), has dismissed the report by the elders’ committee into allegations of "dirty" money brought into the party.
The committee led by Dr Frank Nabwiso was constituted after Besigye revealed to the FDC national council that he had received information indicating that the FDC secretary general Nathan Nandala Mafabi had brought dirty into the party money from the incumbent President Yoweri Museveni.
Besigye allegedly received the information weeks after Nandala had entrusted him with Shs 300 million and had given another Shs 280 million cash batch to the party president, Eng Patrick Oboi Amuriat (POA). According to Besigye, Nandala told him that the money was from his account, which he feared Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) would seize due to pending tax issues with his companies.
Besigye also responded to Nandala's allegations that he returned only Shs 294 million of the Shs 300 million cash that was given to him.
"When that came out, I obviously had to investigate what had happened, and I indeed established that it was true the money was received in 3 or 4 installments. But that was the wish of the lady who was receiving it. It was not because there was no money to receive but she didn't want to take it at ago. That was her request," said Besigye.
"Secondly, I got to learn that part of that money because it had stayed where we put it for long and that during the election time, money becomes devalued - loses value they decided to translate part of it into dollars. And so, when I said please return the money they also returned the money still in dollars. But the dollars apparently instead of gaining value which was expected in the elections, actually the value had gone down...leading to that difference in the money that was not returned...Clearly, nobody informed me about this, there was absolutely no reason why I would want to keep Shs 600,000 of money belonging to the party with me. If I wanted I could have kept the Shs 300 million because there was nowhere I signed, and nobody knew I had it." he added.
Following Besigye’s allegations, the FDC leadership constituted a committee in May 2023 to investigate the matter. In July 2023, the committee submitted a report of its investigation to the party president Amuriat. The same was presented before the special national council sitting held at the party headquarters on July 28, 2023.
Commenting about the report today Monday, Besigye said that the committee ignored the key question that he raised with the party concerning the “dirty” money and instead sought to reconcile him with Nandala. Besigye explained that he has no personal grudges against Nandala, which needed reconciliation of the committee.
Addressing journalists at his offices on Katonga road, Besigye said that the report is not even worth the papers it’s written on. According to Besigye the committee failed to establish facts even about Nandala's claims that he lent the party money.
"The committee of elders did not make the slightest attempt to establish the facts. Zero! In spite of my having pleaded with them to do, they did not check on the party accounts or party records. They did not improve the knowledge that we had before they were informed. In fact, their only written finding is that this was a very sensitive matter. That is their only written finding," said Besigye.
Besigye said the problem with the investigations started with how the committee was appointed. After Besigye had made the revelations regarding the “dirty” money, before the national council sitting in November 2022, a decision was taken to establish a committee to investigate the matter.
However, the committee was constituted six months later. Besigye says there was information that the delay in the appointment of the committee emanated from the question of who should appoint it. He says there were suggestions that it is appointed by the national committee while others thought, it should be by the party president Amuriat.
In the end, Amuriat appointed a seven-member committee, which was approved by the FDC national executive committee (NEC). Besigye wonders how a person who himself had received part of the “dirty” money could appoint a committee to investigate him. This is why, says Besigye, during the inauguration of the committee, as written in the report, Amuriat informed the committee that their main task was to help bring about reconciliation between the two leaders.
"Part of the weakness of what I think this committee lies is that it was appointed by the accused and would report to the same accused. In fact, it was inaugurated by the accused and on inauguration assigned the task that they were supposed to do. I did not learn of the task that was given to them by the party president honourable Amuriat Oboi at the inauguration until I appeared before this committee," said Besigye.
Besigye criticized the committee for being impartial, arguing that the conduct of the committee forced one of the members to resign on the grounds that the committee secretary, who is said to have been appointed by Nandala wasn’t recording proceedings of the meetings accurately. Besigye claims that some of his views were not even captured in the said report due to initial bias.
He says that the party is currently under siege and that its members should rescue it, adding that there are plans by dissatisfied members of the party to mobilize others to rescue the party. He says that the People’s Government too shall be fighting to rescue FDC but at a large scale, the country.
"Even as we organize the liberation of the country, I think the members of the party have a duty to attempt at least to liberate their own party. The reason there are allocating seats and so on is to create a new reality but I think there is still room to attempt to challenge the new reality," added Besigye.
The quarrels over the said money went public last month when the party was in the process of conducting internal elections. Some party members demanded that elections be halted until the internal conflicts are resolved and the party electoral commission better organized to handle the process. However, Amuriat, Nandala, and their allies insisted on the elections, which they say commenced on July 21st, 2023.
Besigye dismissed the elections, saying that even in places where it was claimed they had happened, media reports indicated that they hadn’t. Besigye wishes that the party's national council meets again, and when it does, it puts in place a transitional leadership to steer the party to a credible election. The transitional government, he says should start with appointing experts to conduct a forensic audit of the party resources and also general management of the party.
"Money is traceable where it comes from, where it goes. That is why these days because of terrorism the major source of tracing terrorism is money, following the money. So money can be followed by forensic auditors and established and we resolve some of these controversies and get over them. Thirdly, and most importantly for me is that all these wrangles within parties have the effect and maybe intended effect of diverting us from our main focus of liberating the country." he said.