The evaluators conclude that the interparty dialogue platform, commonly referred to as IPOD, is a valuable forum that has broadly met its set intensions and objectives against a difficult political environment. The MTR states that: “IPOD has provided a purpose and structure to multiparty dialogue in Uganda and has produced tangible benefits”. It furthermore observes that “there is evidence that the very existence of the dialogue has had some perceivable effects on internal party organisation; some parties indicated to have no choice but “to examine themselves” in order to be able to present a common party position at the IPOD forum.” IPOD’s biggest strength is its central principle which requires operating on the basis of consensus which introduced a new dynamic based on collaboration and consensus building in Uganda.
IPOD also has a number of limitations. The key challenge of this informal platform is the effective management of expectations, both on the side of the political parties as well as on the side of the donors. Second, IPOD needs to ensure that the political parties are not selective in the lessons they take from IPOD activities, and for instance not only judge IPOD’s performance on the constitutional reform agenda but also internalise lessons learned in internal organisation and structure. Third, although IPOD’s organisational structures seem suited to the current activity, it would be advisable to shift gears in the next phase by adapting IPOD’s working methods.
The MTR makes a number of important recommendations to deepen and consolidate programmatic impact in the next phase, including:
- Deepen and increase the pace of the dialogue by adjusting IPOD’s mode of operation by relying less on plenary IPOD Council sessions to secure initial consensus. Instead focussing on using the smaller sub-committees to carry out the bulk of its dialogue work.
- Effectively manage expectations by formulating realistic milestones and timescale for the realisation of IPOD activities and objectives together with the key stakeholders, the political parties.
- Strengthen the ownership and buy-in of IPOD parties of the IPOD reform agenda by ensuring a broader buy-in and support for the IPOD reform agenda within each party.
- Creating alliances with relevant stakeholders around the IPOD electoral reform agenda by cooperating with other stakeholders in society working on similar issues in order to maximize synergy and build coalitions around common concerns.
- IPOD outreach and communications to ensure that IPOD activities are more visible to the general public and key stakeholders.
- Professionalising Political Parties, the MTR made a very strong case for the further professionalization of member parties to ensure that they become effective competitors with solid alternative political strategies.