Uganda

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.

Dialogue

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 establish a dialogue process for the six parties with seats in parliament at that time. The result was the Interparty Organization for Dialogue (IPOD), the establishment of which marked a turning point for multiparty politics in Uganda as both the ruling and opposition parties agreed to commit to regular dialogue.

IPOD has continued to expand its membership as the makeup of parliament changes, and now holds regular Leaders’ Summit, convening the most senior politicians in Uganda to discuss issues crucial to the county’s future.

Youth & Inclusivity

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.

Strengthening Democratic Infrastructure

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.

Meet The Team

Frank N. Rusa
Country Director, NIMD Uganda
Over a career spanning 20 years, Frank has held a number of senior positions in public service, international development, and civil society sectors, focusing on rule of law, elections integrity and democratic development. He holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) Degree from Makerere University and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University. Frank has previously attended number of prestigious fellowships including the Reagan Fascell democracy fellowship at the National Endowment for Democracy-NED (Washington D.C), Maurice R. Greenberg World Fellows Program at Yale University (USA) and the Draper-Hills Democracy Fellowship at Stanford University (USA).
Emiel Bijlmakers
Programme & Knowledge Advisor
Emiel Bijlmakers is the focal point in The Hague working with the Uganda team. Emiel also assists on NIMD's Dialogue programme, and has extensive experience with political dialogue interventions in countries including Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Uganda.

Who We Work With

NIMD’s work in Uganda is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the Power of Dialogue programme. The Power of Dialogue consortium is made up of NIMD, Gorée Institute, Akina Mama wa Africa, and Centre des Études Méditerranéennes Internationales, and seeks to enhance collaboration of political and civic actors to participate in accountable political processes. The political parties capacity-strengthening programme is funded by the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF), a multi-donor governance fund set up by key international development partners in Uganda.