What is the worth of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) on the “political stock exchange”? Using a formula based on its numerical strength, organisational capacity, broad structures and the number of years it has ably led Uganda, NRM’s value is incomparable in Uganda and most African countries I know. I believe that NRM operates below its capacity and could easily outperform CCM of Tanzania and ANC of South Africa if every member asked “what is in me for NRM?” before “what is in NRM for me?”
In the midst of the eventful campaign season, research shows that the party is doing well, thanks to collective effort and focus of loyal members and the leadership. Everything about NRM in relation to the elections is big-big numbers, big structures, big policy ideas, big operations and so on. Victory is in sight!
Recently, the party released funds to support its flagbearers in various districts, constituencies and local councils. The funds are to facilitate the candidates in carrying out wrap up mobilisation operations for themselves, the Presidential candidate, Gen. Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Kaguta Museveni, and the party at large.
Off head, I know that candidates for directly elected Members of Parliament (MPs) at constituency level were provided with Shs40million while those for District Woman Representative got Shs50million. Candidates were facilitated depending on the nature or size of their constituency; the money may not perfectly fit the circumstances of everybody’s programmes but there was no better formula to employ.
Contrary to claims circulated by our opponents, the money is not a bribe (to anybody). There is a difference between a bribe and facilitation. You do not bribe your own members or supporters because they already agree with you. A similar claim was raised in 2005 (and has since been maintained in some circles) that NRM bribed its MPs to pass the term limit amendment. If it is to bribe (and which is not a method I would stand for), NRM would bribe its opponents. I know of very many members of the opposition eager to cross over to NRM eve for a bottle of water but that cannot be a standard modus operandi. People should join based on conviction.
But if “shopping” had to be done, NRM would buy opponents-not bribe its own members. Members are facilitated-in accordance with the party’s Constitution and operational demands of the season.
NRM has its known sources of funding which include its entitlement under the Inter-Party Organisation for Dialogue (I.P.O.D) whereby every political party with representation in Parliament receives funding support from Government annually. NRM which holds the majority seats in Parliament receives the amplest share. Then there is monthly contribution from its MPs. Another source is donations from local friendly partners and allies.
NRM is, therefore, not poor. It can afford to meet the basics of a successful campaign. Those who received the funds should use them sparingly but effectively for best results. I am of the view that the party should step up its fundraising mechanism by, at some opportune time collecting membership fees and monthly contributions from other categories of party card holders in gainful employment. The party should also have a functional business arm. When these mechanisms are activated, claims by opponents and suspicion on the party’s source of funding will be neutralised.
I am also aware that other parties are pumping money into their campaigns but why are they not subject to similar focus and scrutiny like NRM? Moreover, the ruling party is most transparent; its disbursements and accountability are done in the open while the rival parties either derive their funding from illegal sources which they cannot openly declare or have a lot of scandals of financial mismanagement within, but nobody talks about them.
For NRM, the system of disbursement and accountability has been even more “democratic” than before in that it was handled through a hierarchical system that involved the leadership of the structures, backed by monitoring by special agents to prevent diversion or swindling of the funds. It is not possible to carry out such a huge activity without something going amiss but reports coming in show that reporting is largely satisfactory.
At some point, rumours of funds having gone missing on a large scale circulated, but we were able to establish ill motives by those people behind those rumours. NRM still has a problem of self-seeking individuals who expect to be everywhere and to be in charge of juicy operations hoping to enrich themselves. Failure to get what they want, they regard those charged with managing those operations maliciously. Intrigue is equally still a major problem within the party and nowhere is it most apparent than when money is involved.
However, despite all those challenges, I understand that all the party’s flagbearers have been catered for. Where problems have arisen, I urge everybody to first accomplish the task at hand, which is to win the general elections. The other internal problems will be sorted out after elections.
We should be grateful to the party leaders for gathering funds and facilitating the party. There can’t be enough money to satisfy everybody but party belonging and service is largely voluntary and self-motivated. Satisfaction will be achieved when victory is secured despite the meager resources. Happy New Year 2021 and wishes of success to President Yoweri Museveni, the entire NRM leadership and membership and all Ugandans!
The author is a Private Assistant to H.E the President in Charge of Media Management