NIMD Country Programme
What we do
NIMD’s aim in Uganda is to help foster a well-functioning and vibrant multiparty democracy. There are challenges to achieving this in a country where one party has dominated politics for decades, with Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Movement ruling Uganda since 1986.
Opposition parties have limited space and influence, and are hampered by government policies curtailing their actions, internal divisions, a lack of accountability, and the tendency to be driven by the personality of their leaders, rather than the strength of their policies.
NIMD began working in Uganda in 2009, and our core aims are strengthening political parties to be more responsive and better structured, promoting the inclusion of women and youth in the political space, helping develop the country’s democratic infrastructure, and facilitating dialogue between political parties, civil society, and other stakeholders.
Uganda’s political landscape is a complicated mix of a dominant party, fragile opposition parties, and an increasing number of independent MPs. Ensuring respectful collaboration and cooperation between so many disparate voices is essential in ensuring the strong foundations of inclusive democratic governance.
In 2010, NIMD helped Uganda’s political parties establish a platform for engaging in dialogue. The result was the Interparty Organization for Dialogue (IPOD), where both the ruling and opposition parties agreed to commit to regular dialogue.
Over eleven years of work in Uganda, IPOD has served political parties across the country as an open forum for political debate, training and cooperation, where all parties have an equal voice regardless of their size or number of seats. These are key principles in our work, and therefore also what we bring in as the facilitator of IPOD’s work. Political dialogue can only be successful when it is inclusive and political parties conduct respectfully towards each other.
Since 2018, IPOD has been holding regular Leaders’ Summit, convening the most senior politicians in Uganda to discuss issues crucial to the county’s future.
While the platform is open to all Uganda’s parliamentary political parties, six parties have currently chosen to take part in the dialogue: the Democratic Party (DP), the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Justice Forum (JEEMA), the National Resistance Movement (NRM), People’s Progressive Party (PPP), the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC).
The participating parties are now in the process of agreeing on their terms and plans for continuing their collaboration. They will reaffirm their joint commitment to open dialogue in a new Memorandum of Understanding. The platform’s future will depend on the commitment within each party to work towards inclusive democracy in Uganda through dialogue.
Promoting the inclusion of women and young people in Uganda’s political landscape is central to all of NIMD Uganda’s work, and understanding the barriers to this participation is one of the most important first steps. In 2021, NIMD teamed up with the Westminster Foundation of Democracy to produce a report on the Cost of Politics in Uganda, which showed that many Ugandans – particularly women and young people – are excluded from entering and participating in politics because they cannot afford it. The report has served as the foundation for increased awareness and lobbying in Uganda to address this crucial issue.
With the many challenges facing political parties in Uganda, NIMD is committed to supporting the development of sound organizational, structural and programmatic capabilities. In 2018, NIMD launched a Political Party Capacity Strengthening Project (PPCSP) for members of IPOD.
By strengthening the capacity and internal democracy of Uganda’s political parties, the PPCSP helps these parties become more effective players in the multiparty system. As part of the programme, NIMD runs workshops and training sessions for parties and the public, with themes including gender and youth participation and conflict resolution, communication and policy development.
Ensuring elections and electoral processes are as inclusive, peaceful and transparent as possible is another important facet of encouraging strong democratic foundations, and NIMD has been involved in a number of campaigns to promote these values during Uganda’s often turbulent elections. Working across party lines to de-escalate any tensions is the best way to set a positive tone for a long-term dialogue based on trust and respect.