Our work in Uganda
NIMD’s overall objective in Uganda is to help foster a well-functioning, strong and vibrant multiparty democracy. The core aims are therefore to strengthen parties to be more programmatic and responsive, to promote the inclusion of women and youth in the political space, and to facilitate interparty dialogue – as well as parties’ dialogue with civil society and other stakeholders.
The programme has two main aspects. The first focuses on facilitating an inclusive political dialogue between the parties represented in parliament. The second supports parties as they develop into mature organizations with a sound organizational structure and a distinctive programmatic identity.
In 2010 the then six parliamentary parties, with NIMD’s support, established a formal interparty dialogue platform named the Interparty Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD). The establishment of IPOD marked a turning point in multiparty politics in Uganda, as both the ruling party and opposition committed to regular dialogue with each other aimed at addressing challenges facing Uganda. NIMD Uganda facilitates this process on behalf of the parliamentary political parties.
Over the past 10 years, IPOD has established itself as a safe space for politicians to meet, build trust, and forge consensus. It convenes actors at multiple levels of politics, such as party Secretaries General and party leaders - including the President. Since the beginning of dialogue at this most senior level, party leaders and President Museveni have met twice at the 2018 and 2019 IPOD Party Leaders’ Summits.
in 2018, NIMD also started a new Political Party Capacity Strengthening Project (PPCSP) in Uganda for the five member parties of IPOD. In NIMD’s experience, ruling parties are more willing to engage with opposition political parties on matters of National governance and leadership. This also allows them to play ‘more on the ball and less on the adversary’.
Through capacity strengthening and improvements in the internal democracy of Ugandan political parties, the PPCSP facilitates Ugandan political parties to become more robust players in Uganda’s multiparty system. Subsequently, the partner political parties have established intra party policies such as gender and youth participation enhancement policies, conflict resolution and management as well as communication strategies. Equally, some party structures such as youth and PWD leagues have been revitalised.
Number of parties included in dialogue platform
Number of women included in NIMD activities
Number of agreements and deals reached through NIDM dialogue processes
Main contact Saul O’Keeffe Communications Officer
In-country contact Frank Rusa Uganda Country Representative
In 2005, Ugandans voted in a referendum to restore multiparty politics, following the “no-party” system administered by President Yoweri Museveni since 1986. Despite this, Uganda still has a de-facto one-party dominant political system and a polarized political landscape more than 15 years later, with Museveni still holding the presidency. Opposition parties only have a limited ability and space to influence the political reform agenda, and are structurally fragile. For example, the parties largely rely on the personal appeal of their leaders rather than the strength of their policies. They also face internal divisions and lack accountability and internal democracy. Effective participation of women and youth in political parties also remains problematic.
An additional challenge that political parties are facing is the increasing prevalence of independent Members of Parliament. In the 2016 national elections the number of independents increased to 66 members (15.5% of seats), more than the combined representation of 57 members (13.4% of seats) from all the other opposition parties. Taken together, it is clear that Ugandan parties need ongoing support if they are to deliver effective, multiparty representation for all its constituents.