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FULL STATEMENT: Besigye accuses Nandala, Amuriat of taking ‘dirty money’

Former FDC President Dr Kizza Besigye addressing the media at his Katonga Road Offices in Kampala on Monday, August 07, 2023 (PHOTO/ABUBAKER LUBOWA)

KAMPALA, (UG): The founding President and former FDC presidential candidate yesterday held a press conference at his Kantonga Road offices in which he accused the party’s current president Patrick Oboi Amuriat and the Secretary-General Mr Nandala Mafabi of accepting to take the “dirty money” whose sources to-date remain unknown.

Dr Besigye who has contested and lost to NRM’s President Museveni on four occasions in the previous elections was responding to a report by the FDC’s Special Elder’s Committee where his name appeared in the circus of the disputed money.

Below is Besigye’s full statement;

No.6 Katonga Road,
August 2, 2023.
Response to report of FDC Special Elders’ Committee

Background

I presented to the FDC National Council (NC) sitting on November 25, 2022, my reasons why I didn’t actively join the FDC campaigns of 2021. I indicated that I didn’t consider that FDC was serious about having a serious presidential campaign.

First, in spite of having formally informed the party in 2018 that I wouldn’t vie to be a candidate in the 2021 elections, no effort was made to identify and promote a candidate until the 11th hour.

Secondly, during the process of identifying a party presidential flag bearer (late September 2020), I received intelligence reports that FDC senior leaders had solicited and received money from State House. Engagements with relevant leaders, who included Hon Amuriat Oboi, Hon Nandala Mafabi, Hon Geoffrey Ekanya and Hon Jack Sabiiti, over this very concerning matter were unfruitful.

Thirdly, when Hon Amuriat Oboi emerged as a party flagbearer, he set up a campaign bureau to plan for and manage the presidential campaign. When the bureau had just begun its work, it was unceremoniously disbanded and the candidate didn’t have a campaign bureau for the entire course of the campaign! This, coupled with the information on source of funding convinced me that there wasn’t a campaign worth risking for.

It’s the above presentation to NC and the rebuttals made by Hon Nandala Mafabi that, I understand, prompted the NC to resolve that an FDC Committee of Elders should be set up to inquire into the matters, with a view to establishing the facts and to report back to NC.

The Special Elders Committee (SEC)

The SEC was appointed by FDC President, Hon Amuriat Oboi, six months after the NC resolution! I understand that this was partly due to a controversy as to who should appoint the Committee- the FDC chairman (who chairs the NC) or the Party President.

Since the issues to be inquired into concerned the leaders of the FDC Executive-Party President (PP), Secretary General (SG), and Treasurer General (TG), it would be imprudent for the same people to set up a team to inquire into their activities. So, the SEC was appointed and inaugurated by one of the key people to appear before it!

One of the SEC members was the FDC deputy chairperson, a part of the NC chair, to which the report was to be presented! One of the seven appointed members didn’t take up his appointment.

Nonetheless, when the committee was set up, I proceeded to submit myself to it on June 6, 2023. I thought that it would still be able to establish important facts that we had previously failed to get.

I was shocked when the SEC told me that their main task was to reconcile me with Hon Nandala Mafabi!

I informed the SEC that there was nothing personal between us that I knew of. I informed them that there were issues of concern, which I raised about and with, especially, the four senior FDC leaders pointed out above.

In my submission to the SEC, I offered the information I had, and, additionally, emphasised the need for the committee to get the facts (from relevant bank and party records) relating to the funds received ahead of the 2021 elections and their disbursement. This would have been at the heart of disposing of the concerns around the “dirty money”.

Shs300m from Hon Nandala Mafabi

Hon Nandala told me that he had a tax dispute with URA and was worried his money could be seized from his accounts. He asked me if I could temporarily keep Shs500 million cash for him. I told him that my home was insecure, but could find a safe place to keep it. Please note that at this time, no mention of elections or FDC was made. It was just money from my friend/colleague.

He then sent his driver, who arrived at my home at about 10pm, during curfew time. This was my first concern: I wondered how a driver would be entrusted to carry a large sum of cash during curfew time. It turned out what he carried was Shs300 million; not 500, as earlier indicated. I informed Hon Nandala and he confirmed the variation.

I later transferred it to where I thought it would be safer than my home. The Shs300 million was in brand new Shs20,000 notes, wrapped in bundles of Shs20 million each; labelled “Bank of Uganda” with serial numbers of all the notes indicated.

When the information about “dirty money” broke out about two weeks later, I decided to recover and keep these labels. A few days before the elections, while I was in Rukungiri, Hon Nandala called me at night and informed me that they needed the Shs300 million to be used in paying polling agents.

I informed him that I would arrange for the money to be picked from Nsambya Total Station the next day. This was because there was security at the Station and I would be able to get acknowledgment that it was received.

Neither the FDC officials nor the responsible manager at Nsambya Station ever informed me that some of the money (Shs670,000) was not delivered.

I heard about this in the course of the SEC inquiry, when Hon Amuriat Oboi and Nandala Mafabi convened several FDC District leaders’ meetings to explain the “dirty money” and distributed some documents. One of the documents showing that Shs670,000 of the Shs300 million wasn’t received!

I have since found out that some of the money had been changed to US dollars to avoid loss of value due to inflation that’s very common around elections. However, at the time of conversion, the shilling had actually appreciated, leading to the shortfall. I’ve learnt about all this during the SEC process. If I’d have been informed of this, it would have been rectified right away. I have also been informed that the FDC official who collected the money from Nsambya was the one who preferred to take it in portions.

In the course of this controversy, one of the investigations I conducted was to establish the source of the new banknotes that were kept with me. The Bank of Uganda keeps a record of how new currency notes are released into circulation. Although this wouldn’t be conclusive, it adds useful circumstantial evidence. I presented this to the SEC.

Special Elders’ Committee report

The SEC never made the slightest attempt to establish the facts that could help lead to unveiling the truth relating to the “dirty money”. As shown in their “Terms of Reference”, they only planned to interview relevant FDC leaders and some “experts” and write a report.

My presentation to the SEC was selectively and inaccurately recorded. In other areas, what is presented has been spun to relay a different meaning!

For example, I specifically requested the committee to inquire into party accounts and financial records. It was said FDC had borrowed money for use in elections. However, no one, including the Ag Party President, Owek Joyce Ssebuggwawo, or the substantive PP knew how much money, if any, was borrowed; from whom; and on what terms.

I also gave the serial numbers of the new money notes and bundles (Shs300m) I received for the SEC to inquire as to whether it was from commercial banks.

The funds of the party during the 2020/2021 electoral period were never inquired into at all. So, the report does not touch on the monies that the party received and used during the contentious period!

What’s recorded as the FINDINGS of the SEC are our respective (poorly recorded) statements made to them! Their only recorded “finding” is that “this issue is a sensitive one and responsible for the dispute between Hon Mafabi and Dr Besigye’’!

In Hon Nandala’s story, recorded by the SEC, he only talked about the Shs300 million that was given to me. He never talked about the Shs280 million given to Hon Amuriat and the rest of the money he spent during the election period! The SEC, certainly, didn’t interest themselves in this, even having realised that it was the main issue.

Up to now, and in spite of the SEC report, no one or organ of FDC knows how much money was raised/ received and used during the election time. If money was borrowed from Hon Nandala, as he seems to have told the SEC, wasn’t it only logical that he indicates how much, on what terms, and the agreements between lender and borrower?

Accordingly, I consider that the SEC report didn’t help at all in disposing of the highly contentious issue of “dirty money”. The SEC provided an opportunity for the current FDC managers to dispel the (strong) suspicion/ information that they got “dirty money” in September 2020 by providing the relevant facts and they opted not to use it.

Conclusions

The SEC report, clearly, doesn’t absolve the FDC leaders who are suspected of having received “dirty money”. In fact, their actions before, during, and after the SEC report, further point to their culpability.

Considering the level of lack of cooperation and hostility now exhibited by the current (affected) top leaders of FDC, it may not be possible to get the relevant facts, while they hold their offices.

Impact of unresolved controversies on FDC internal elections

Unfortunately, the “hostile” influence that has taken a grip on the FDC is playing out in the process of the internal elections underway. It’s been getting increasingly clear that this “hostile” influence seeks to take over the party through the internal elections.

It’s now clear that the organ of the party that’s charged with the day-to-day running of the party NEC, is dysfunctional, on account of not agreeing with what its leaders, PP and SG want done. It hasn’t been able to sit and deal with many outstanding critical issues.

This is also the cause of the most chaotic National Council sitting in the history of FDC, where State security was at play in a clearly biased manner!

The FDC Electoral Commission has demonstrated that it’s compromised by the “hostile” influence. Otherwise, the EC would have been related with decisions of NEC and also acting prudently and transparently.

The media has been effective in revealing the lies about elections having taken place in many areas, whereas not. There is a lot of evidence of people being solicited to accept party positions, as having been duly elected! Such gross violations of the procedures and SPIRIT of FDC show a major crash in the functioning of the party.

Indeed, when the EC announced that elections had taken place in 93 percent of all districts, it confirmed that something was grossly wrong with it.

The way forward for FDC and the liberation struggle

My appreciation is that the FDC leaders who have superintended over the current chaos in the party are no longer likely to reflect on their course of action.

The FDC party structures must compel them to do the right thing to save the party. They must

mobilise, organise and resist their further actions along the path of fraudulent internal elections.

The National Council is supposed to sit (at least once) and should sit before the envisaged National Delegates Conference. It should undertake whatever corrective measures that are necessary for the party to function in a “normal” transparent way that affords all members to participate in its processes.

Efforts should also be made to try and resolve the unresolved “dirty money” issue. It’s recommended that a forensic audit be commissioned, as a part of the corrective processes, ahead of inclusive, transparent party elections.

Meanwhile, these intraparty wrangles shouldn’t take our focus off the main struggle of liberating our country.

Therefore, concurrently, the People’s Government will also get in high gear to mobilise the PG leaders and the public to undertake the necessary actions to free our country.

We’ve already marked 60 Independence anniversaries without ever having a democratic change of government! Let’s aim at making the next anniversaries different. We must aim to celebrate real Independence, where Uganda is truly in the hands and control of our citizens.

The current cloud in FDC is, likely, a part of the birth pains of a new situation in the country. Let all Ugandans unite and fight to bring forth a New Uganda. One Uganda; One People! We shall overcome.

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