The ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM), commands a clear political majority in Parliament and the Local Councils from 1 to 5. In the past, NRM won through the ballot box. At the recent LC grassroots election, it was through queuing. The party’s popularity is confirmed on the duo barometer of secret ballot and lining up but party majors are concerned as to how long it can hold on to power given immediate challenges now giving party ideologues some headache
One of such challenges is poor public relations and damage and image control. Despite its large membership, NRM lacks enough aggressive publicists. The media center does more of government work and runs on a meager budget and which remains inelastic even during crisis times. Failure to cultivate a broads network countrywide to do sensitization and air brushing of issues is having a great cost. During the time Robert Kabushenga (now heading Vision Group) was in charge, the media centre was under State House but is now under the ICT ministry of Frank Tumwebaze. It’s suggested that all funds for government public relations be channeled to the media centre to give it clout since publicists for ministries and district information officers do no work.
The generation of young people is disrespectful to historical leaders. They have no attachment to their revolutionary story and they don’t consult them. The historicals equally feel isolated. This generational gap has affected NRM to the benefit of younger parties and those counting on a purely contemporary “digital” generation.
Cabinet has been found a liability to NRM’s political health; it’s a bug, a virus weakening NRM’s immunity leaving it at the disposal of opportunistic infections i.e raging opponents. Ministers are dead silent when salient issues to address are plenty. President Museveni is left to voice everything, pen articles and is now more active on social media than all ministers combined. After he narrowly survived assassination in Arua, none of the ministers audibly condemned the attack which was an attack on every Ugandan. Are the ministers in bed with the enemy?
Corruption continues to burn the fabric of NRM which is blamed for scandals in the government system. PSs, CAOs, town clerks and sub country chiefs preside over grand corruption whereby they decompose funds sent to them, give contracts to friends in the opposition who do shoddy work and get protected because of their political status, and use the same to fight government fearing that they will be exposed by NRM. Officials serve in the NRM government without supporting it. They are in if for the money and on the side of subversion. At district level, failure to supervise District Service Commissions (DSC) has led to the formation of a syndicate of bureaucratic hyenas who sell government jobs to highest bidders or sell the same jobs to multiple candidates, leaving a trail of intrigue and inefficiency at the expense of innocent NRM. Private firms with tattered records are contracted to hire personnel without due care for standing orders or recruitment regulations. Workers hardly look at the NRM manifesto to guide them. Whose manifestos they consider is a good guess.
NRM lacks touch with young people. Contact is minimal and haphazard. The party had no youth wing like it was with Uganda Young Movements (UYM) which is dormant. The party needs a vibrant branch outside formal structures. It needs mobilisers conversant with the habits of youths to work with them and serve their yearning. As they say, send a thief to catch a thief!
Government must have a strong intelligence system that with a wide, sensitive network. Uganda’s intelligence system should recruit professionals to match the times and evolving nature of threats and crime. Currently, the system operates with ground “informers” who have been in the system since the 1990s and can hardly write reports. Most have lost the surprise or concealment element and they are slow, expecting that “Kampala” knows everything. They are village drunkards only waiting for their pay to drink another round.
There are G.I.S.Os who don’t know social media. The only function they know on their phones is dialing to make a call and receiving.
NRM’s strength is diminished by President Museveni is overburdened with work as officials have made him their servant yet he is supposed to think and plan for the country. Implementation is for lower cadres to follow through but in Uganda, all problems are directed to him. PPS should strictly screen officials who want to see the big man to present issues to him. They must be significant and of great interest. Others matters should be handled by the Prime Minister as it was during Amama Mbabazi’s time; he set up a system where no minister would reach the President without going through his (PM’s) office first. The P.M and secretary to cabinet can represent the President and give him reports on their work.
Why should a junior police officer go to the President when there are superiors in between like CDF, IGP and the minister of internal affairs? This weakens the system and makes NRM look ineffective.
It has been discovered that NRM didn’t take interest in the music and entertainment sector. The sector was considered a thing of comedians and spoilt people without considering that it is/was a rallying point for post-1986 generations and a large refuge ship big names. They are now beginning to cause ripples, with well-known profiles and recognizability. The sector should be managed and regulated to develop it but also prevent its use to promote wrong foreign and local cultures and ideology. “Musicians” are using their works to insult the President and NRM yet their freedoms are due to them. Strong laws are required to prevent a complete generational moral collapse that NRM will forever be blamed for.
NRM’s cadreship is also under spotlight due to the laissez faire style of doing things where any stranger can join today and tomorrow is given the party card to contest on the party’s ticket without regard for tested members. When such “strangers” triumph, they fight the party from within or just relax. Some quit soon after. NRM is a conduit, indeed like its bus symbol where anybody enters and leaves at will. There should be tight screening of membership and leaders. People think NRM has endless money and privileges whereas not. The party should start an aggressive and recruitment of members who should be formally taken through the party ideology. Party members should begin to contribute to its coffers to strengthen its financial base and create deep roots for its to stand the test of time.