Will NUP still be in existence by 2026? Is the multi-million-dollar question in context with the contemporary political arena?
Once indomitable a force and fast-growing mass party that garnered incredible support across the country in a very short period, unbelievably uplifted spirits for majority of Ugandans and portrayed potential of new leadership to dislodge the 36-year rule of NRM led Gen Museveni is now seen dissipating into thin air every day that goes by.
The problems of NUP didn’t begin yesterday but it has been a culmination of events. It’s either that NUP leaders were not paying enough attention to internal issues and events that went beyond their control or they just kept on ignoring them or it was complete malice and sabotage that we have come to this point.
NUP’s debacle lately has been characterized by continuous resignations of competent leaders, infights for supremacy and position by party leaders. Failure for leaders such as MPs to have a common position on which has seen every member communicate what they deem fit. The lack of clear vision and agenda following the aftermath of the 2021 elections which leaves the strength and direction of NUP in an ominous state. Here are some of the areas which make me believe that the notion stated is true.
Foul Play within the party
NUP lost out on knowledgeable and competent persons on grounds of foul play by the top party leadership.
For example, Dr. Roy Ssemboga who played a significant role of building the initial people Power movement was denied the Parliamentary party flag for the constituency of Kawempe South despite his different party contributions. The card was instead given to Mr. Kazibwe Bashir, a popular TV personality, a new party member then and also new entrant in active politics. The party’s intention was to piggy back on Kazibwe’s popularity as TV personality whom the party thought had built ground while jeopardizing the fate of Dr. Roy who had stood with the party from day one.
Counsel Fredrick Kalule, also former aspirant Member of Parliament for Kakuuto County in Kyotera District and People Power Movement lawyer who played a significant role in offering legal services using personal resources to rescue incarcerated people power supporters during numerous activities, was as also denied the parliamentary Party Card which was instead given to Geoffrey Lutaaya, who was strategic enough to become a member of the party in time to get the flag.
Was this an agreeable move by the party to dump its own but to piggy back on popularity of already established and famous aspirants as opposed to empowering party members who had stood long enough with the party through thick and thin and had all the potential it took?
Senior Politician, Suilaman Kidandala, former Organizing secretary of NUP and also former Parliamentary aspirant for Kawempe North, who had abandoned Democratic Party in a bid of contributing towards Uganda’s liberation from NUP was also denied the party flag bearer’s card.
The card was instead given to Hon. Segirinya commonly known as Mr. Update. This resulted into Kidandala taking on the mantle as an independent and eventually exit NUP. We shouldn’t forget that Hon. Segirinya’s Academic qualifications were enquired as he claimed to have sat for his Senior Six final examinations and completed from Pimbas Secondary School, where the headmaster denied this fact.
Dr. Mirembe Joel, the head of Professionals at NUP and also former Parliamentary candidate for Mawokota South was sidelined by the Party leaders during 2021 general campaigns when Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi campaigned for an FDC Candidate by the names of Hon. Yusuf Nsibambi for the same Constituency as Dr. Mirembe Joel.
This definitely felt like an act of betrayal for Mirembe, who had been engaged in giving NUP upscale feel from professionals and also had been engaged in numerous party activities. Since then, Dr. Mirembe has since withdrawn from NUP activities and meetings. He has distanced self from the party to date.
Poor Organization & Coordination Systems
After the unveil of the first batch of the People Power Coordinators (cream dela cream pioneer team), Nationally and in the Diaspora, there was a gap of structuring and establishing a proper coordination system within the People Power movement.
It was at this point that an able, competent and young brilliant man, Achilles Spartan Mukagyi commonly known as Spartan, who never showed his face in the public camera in any activity was appointed as the Liaison officer by Hon. Kyagulanyi Robert for the People Power Movement where he played a very pivotal role from the orchestrations and formations that the party and People Power had.
During his stay in office, he engaged in structure building and organizing at all levels throughout the country and in the diaspora. He organized numerous retreats for coordinators and contributed towards many sensitizations party campaigns which vastly propelled People Power. A source at the party headquarters claimed.
Spartan was later tasked by the Party leadership to strengthen Northern Uganda in terms of structure building and coordination which he did after only 2 months, under the leadership of Dr. Lina Zedriga, NUP Deputy President in charge of Northern Uganda. Northern Uganda later became one of the most organized regions and in fact, laid precedent for the rest of regions.
However, the organization of Northern Uganda was short-lived following spite and incoordination from headquarters where a team from central Uganda was set to supervise Northern Uganda towards 2021 elections without consulting him & Deputy President of Uganda. This sparked off conflicts within the party in Northern Uganda. The regional structures and supporters started complaining about NUP being a Baganda affair.
“How can Buganda come to our region to supervise us?” are we that stupid or they don’t trust non Baganda to manage these elections. The NRM regime and other rival political parties identified this gap and began pushing the narrative that NUP is a Buganda affair. One of the displeased Northern Uganda coordinators exclaimed. Almost all coordination structures for NUP in Northern Uganda crumbled because of this reason.
Sources say, this was the beginning of frustrations the leaders of Northern office, Mr. Spartan inclusive following uncoordinated activities in Northern Uganda by Kampala deployed teams. There was also a supposition that because many within the party structures had been drawn to Spartan, an aspect which didn’t auger well with some mafias within the top leadership and also because he seemed to be rising fast within the party, he was instead fought off indirectly through numerous frustrations and threats by mafias within top leadership.
We later learnt that Spartan who by then had returned to the Secretariat and was acting as an organizing secretary replacing Sulaiman Kidandala, had given in his resignation following unmet promises and continued frustrations from the party leadership. We on several occasions tried to get his side of the story but was always unavailable on his known contacts. His exit has been registered as a big loss to the party because of the big vacuum that he left.
“Ever since Spartan left the secretariat, we face a lot of hard time since there is no one to handle us meticulously at secretariat save for the Secretary General who is engaged in a thousand of party activities and can’t offer much as he is unavailable. One of the NUP coordinators exclaimed. Many coordinators have since then laid down tools since his exit not only for the solidarity but because they imagined the unclear party system would be very hard to deal with. One of the people based at Kamwokya told us. It is worth noting that Northern Uganda has since then gone terribly silent.
Leader of opposition slots
One would think that it is an automatic gate pass for competent and hardworking individuals that had made various contributions towards the struggle that they would be allocated positions within the Leader of opposition office in bid to strengthening the party, however we came to learn that this opportunity was granted to relatives of top party leaders who were not anywhere in the struggle.
To date, this has created a lot of controversy on the mode of rewarding hard work and competency within the party. Amongst others, the juicy slots that were available at the time at Leader of Opposition office were policy analyst positions. However, it is also worth noting that the policy team which had crafted the manifesto and had all the credentials and competence wasn’t given an opportunity to serve for the positions within leader of opposition.
Policy reforms not only inform the agenda of any political organization but also give direction towards the desired goal and mission. Apparently, it is said that the brilliant team from Makerere under leadership of Mary Sserumaga which formed the policy team exited the party because the party leaders seemed not to interest themselves with matters of policy. Why do we have leaders (MPs, Councilors and party officials) who run to media houses to be watched and listened just to complain about the 34-year dictatorial rule without offering any alternative policies?
Has NUP simply become a complaining camp? “We crafted a manifesto but how many times did you hear party leaders communicate in relation with the party manifesto? Probably our effort is just being to waste.” One of the members of the Policy team told this website. It is also worth noting that the policy team under the Leadership of Mrs. Sserumaga designed the 2021 Manifesto of NUP dubbed, The New Uganda.
Non inclusive decision making in the party
It is alleged that decision making organs within NUP such as NEC, Flag bearers fora are not empowered enough and currently there is no deliberate effort in constituting a substantive delegates conference through structure building.
Surprisingly one of the core values of NUP is discipline. However, one can count the number of times the disciplinary committee has sat to instill discipline into the different party stakeholders. Party members and bloggers abuse people online left and right for having opinions that differ from theirs and this goes unaddressed about by the party leaders.
The vice of indiscipline has sent off many potential prospective contributors and members who would wish to identify with and join NUP. There are also concerns whether NUP actually has a disciplinary committee. If yes, how many cases of indiscipline have been handled in NUP? Because the rate of dilapidating discipline is alarming.
Also, Alex Bahengana, an NUP diehard was recently beaten by another NUP supporter, Ms Sauda Madada while being accused of being a descendant of a tribe in Western Uganda. We as an amicable settlement was made by the party leadership, there remained a gap for resolution on tribal sentiments that do happen within the party.
Random communication within the party
Unguided online communications not representative of the party are always made by bloggers who associate themselves with NUP. However, the NUP leaders still remains silent on disciplining and confronting bloggers.
Furthermore, the so-called foot soldiers and self-appointed, bloggers, generals in NUP have severally held live recordings engaging the public on different party activities and positions.
There has also been little done by the party leaders to set an agenda for the different participants in the party to talk about. This has resulted into idle talk and bitterness from the supporters of NUP who merely jump onto anything to attack without digging into the gist of the matter.
This has tainted the image of NUP that they are referred too as hooligans with no agenda. For example, because members of parliament are not guided on the party position, every MP will speak what they deem fit.
The recent example is that of Hon. Abed Bwanika Who during an interview with media, without seeking the party position proposed that the party needed to negotiate with President Museveni to have party members and supporters who are apparently languishing in detention centers and prisons all over the country released.
This proposal has created a lot of controversy within NUP and has just unmasked the aspect of disorganization in the NUP camp questioning how sensitive issues are handled.
Reckless statements from Party leaders
Dr. Lina Zedriga, Deputy President for Northern Uganda, in a podcast published by bloggers mid last year called Besigye rotten meat and that Kyagulanyi is the new face of the struggle. This sparked off online wars between FDC and NUP camp much as she later apologized. Since then, there has been rising feud between FDC and NUP on grounds of owning opposition political space.
On several occasions, Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi made reckless statements which have cost this struggle a great deal. For example, when he told his supporters that they should vote and leave the rest to him, only to ask his supporters later to be the judges in public court. A move that discouraged many.
Furthermore, declaring a vote of no confidence in the judicial system also sparked off hullabaloo for Hon. Robert Kyangulanyi and his party. This was immediately after elections where the Party withdrew the petition against President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in the concluded 2021general elections citing Bias within the judicial system. However, the same Judicial system that had been doubted by Hon Robert Kyagulanyi and his camp is the very judicial system he is lately running to, seeking for justice.
For example, in the just concluded local government Councilor 5 elections in the Kayunga elections, Hon. Harriet Nakwedde on 8th January 2022 petitioned to high court to nullify the results of the elections citing vote rigging and alteration of results which saw Andrew Muwonge declared winner.
Following the torture of District Coordinator Samuel Masereka, NUP through its lawyers dragged government to court on grounds of torture on the 8th February 2022.
Threatening statements such as that of burring Gen. Kaguta Museveni from swearing in on the Presidential swearing day because he was an illegitimate presidential but he later swore in have all contributed towards the loss of confidence in NUP.
What is next for NUP? We have been promised everything, what will they tell us now? To vote Hon. Kyagulanyi Robert again in 2026? Do we expect anything to change or it will still remain the same?
Before the formation of NUP where all activities being run as the People Power Movement, Ms. Arao Ameny former diaspora team leader whose credentials and qualifications are top notch took on the mantle to head and coordinate NUP diaspora chapters. Under the leadership of Ms. Arao, fundraising, resource mobilization and networking were enormously achieved.
However, it is alleged that Ms. Arao had fallen out with the party leadership when she became strict with the aspect of financial accountability. The leaders felt she was stepping her mandate.
Ever since then, it has been difficult to get a diaspora leader who fits in the shoes of Ms. Arao. The diaspora NUP community claims to have funded and channeled lumps of money to the NUP secretariat but no accountability has been provided.
This has become a contentious issue that many have resigned while others have withdrawn from further contributing resources to the party. Numerous retreats have been held in the intent of resolving these matters but all in vain. The most recent was that of September, 2021 where the top party leadership was roasted by diaspora on issues of accountability.
The struggle is long gone as members of parliament don’t attend secretariat meetings. We’ve also been reliably informed that they are no longer on ground with their constituents but are very busy eating money. Building fancy houses and buying posh cars while political prisoners are there languishing in different detention centers throughout the country.
Meanwhile the so-called foot soldiers are also in a dire financial state as they are very jobless and are always asking for money from these members of parliament. They are actually very susceptible to the NRM hungry lions that have all the money.
Infiltration of NUP camp by NRM
NRM knows what it means to retain power at all cost. In fact, in the recent interview with NBS TV, Hon Robert Kyagulanyi agreed that NUP has been infiltrated by NRM moles.
These moles are spies and informants for the state on any move that the party has to make. Recently a team of councilors from NUP met with president Museveni. It will also be recalled that last year during the election of local government speakers, NUP councilors who were the majority in their councils always voted for NRM speakers, leaving their very own.
The recent appointment of several NUP leaders as RDC’s in the most recent reshuffle portrayed the institution as highly infiltrated by informers for the ruling National Resistence Movement and other opposition parties.
Indeed, the President of opposition democratic party – DP, Norbert Mao, has severally declared the party as a branch of the NRM.
Protests and demonstrations
The recent protests by KCCA councilors that left a number of them arrested questions the real intention of these protests. Is it for political showoff or intended on helping evictees? Why is it that the councilors don’t engage at such a stage when the discussion on evicting vendors has been initiated or ongoing? Where was their role in blocking the processes that would lead to evicting of vendors?
However, they protested when vendors were already evicted. To make matters worse, none of the people (Vendors) they were fighting for or protesting for joined them. It should also be noted that immediately after the 2021 general elections, Hon. Kyagulanyi alongside his newly elected Members of Parliament stormed Kampala city to demonstrate on grounds of vote rigging by President Kaguta Yoweri Museveni, however people it was normal business in the city as people failed to turn up for the protest.
If NUP wants to progress and grow as a party, it should reconcile and have honest conversations with all pivotal persons that were once party members and officials, it should as well harmonize with current members who are displeased with the status quo. “One can’t build a house yet other parts are falling off”.
There is need to re-strategize on how to take up power now that the Kayunga debacle clearly showed how elections from now on are to be managed. NUP should learn to engage different Key party members into affairs of the party. A party is not run by a handful of individuals but through a collective effort of everyone.
The party leaders should not only interest themselves but to articulate of policy. This will also add the party a bonus as it will attract as many elites as possible. It should begin setting an agenda as opposed to being reactionary from activities made by other opposition parties and ruling party.
The party should devise mechanisms of giving accountability for resources that have given to it.
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