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 promoting the inclusion of women and youth in the political space, helping develop the country’s democratic infrastructure, and facilitating dialogue between civil society, youth and political actors.
NIMD’s dialogue work in Uganda started in 2010, when NIMD helped the country’s political parties establish a platform for engaging with each other on equal terms. The result was the Interparty Organization for Dialogue (IPOD), an open forum where both the ruling and opposition parties come together with an equal voice, regardless of their size or number of seats.
In 2023, NIMD has stepped back from its facilitating role with IPOD. However, our dialogue work in Uganda continues. Our new focus on working with the youth, civil society and political actors aims to create effective dialogue spaces for democratic progress.
2022 saw the launch of a new Multiparty Youth Forum in Uganda, a dialogue platform for cross-party collaboration to address issues affecting youth. The platform was created by young political leaders from party youth wings, the National Youth Council, the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs and the Uganda National Students’ Association, following a series of meetings and a multiparty youth retreat, organized by NIMD Uganda. The youth platform will be supported by NIMD Uganda, and is a strong vehicle for young civil and political leaders to effectively lobby and advocate for policy issues and champion the meaningful participation of young people in politics.
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. In 2023, NIMD Uganda is also set to launch its first Democracy School for young leaders.
In addition, NIMD works with the Multiparty Youth Forum to provide training, dialogue and networking opportunities to young leaders from across the political spectrum. This includes our intergenerational dialogue initiatives, which bring young people into contact with experienced politicians to share their experiences and ideas, as well as our Democracy Academy.
NIMD Uganda’s Democracy Academy targets young leaders, aged between 18 and 35, from political parties, National Youths Council (NYC), and Uganda National Students Association (UNSA). With a focus on democratic values, practices and principles, the school aims to help young and aspiring leaders to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to enforce the rules and practices that strengthen Constitutionalism, rule of law, and democratic governance in Uganda.
With the many challenges facing political parties in Uganda, NIMD is committed to supporting the development of sound organizational, structural and programmatic capabilities. In 2018-2022, NIMD ran a Political Party Capacity Strengthening Project (PPCSP) to strengthen the capacity and internal democracy of the political parties in IPOD.
The success of the project has led us to explore new ways in which we can continue to provide support for Uganda’s political parties in the future.
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.
NIMD Uganda takes a holistic approach to women’s political participation. Firstly, we bring together women from across the political spectrum, and different political platforms, in our dialogue spaces. In these dialogue spaces, we engage women leaders from the political parties, as part of the Interparty women Platform; women leaders from the National Women Council; and women leaders in Parliament under their umbrella of the Uganda Women’s Parliamentary Forum. Here, the participants can find common ground and develop a joint advocacy agenda. Through our training activities, we also focus on strategic planning, advocacy and policymaking, to support our participants as they enhance skills to support their joint advocacy efforts.