By Dr Barnabas Taremwa B
The National Resistance Movement, a party by legal definition, but a mass movement in practical terms, has been in leadership, in government and responsible for liberating Uganda from a negative history into the current envy of the region and the continent in terms of the Socio-economic and political achievements so far made, which include, but are not limited to, the following;
- A triple chase population growth from 14 million people in 1986, to the current 35 million people thanks to the 98% achieved level of immunization against the six killer diseases that no-longer kill our children before their fifth birthday.
- Road infrastructure that has made it possible to travel from boarder to boarder or to Kampala, do business, and return on the same day.
- Electricity for both industrial and domestic use, whereby the previous irksome load-shading is now part of history.
- Clean water accessibility from 10% to the currents 95% urban and 71% rural is certainly praise worthy.
- UPE and USE programs that have achieved a monumental 75% literacy level.
- Peace and security for all Ugandans, law and order, and Uganda’s contribution to peace Missions in the region are among the many mega achievements that even opponents of the NRM and its Government can’t successfully argue against.
However, all human organizations and institutions, whether socio-economic, political or otherwise, carry along with them, inherent strengths and weaknesses, if for no other reason, at least because they relied the un predictability and fallibility of the human beings that make them, manage them, direct them and or transform them.
To that effect therefore, it is always imperative to regularly Review, re-asses. Re-adjust and re-direct these organizations and institutions whenever and wherever there arises need, with intent to make them work better, perform better, and hence achieve better.
The process of appraisal and assessment to know what to do and how to do it, in my view, is best done by using a scientific method known as a SWOT analysis; by analyzing the Strengths of the organization or institution in question, and its Weaknesses; the Opportunities available within the operational environment of the organization or institution and the Threats against the organization which target its weaknesses to make it weaker, perform poorer or worse, become uncompetitive in the wider environment and may finally make it irrelevant and fizzle out!
Such a situation is always worse for organizations like Political Movements or parties, but especially Movements that tend to bask in their guaranteed mass support, which when taken for granted for long periods of time by their leadership, can degenerate, deteriorate and sometimes disintegrate as they are always targeted and slowly but surely chipped off by political power competitors.
It is this possibility of having the NRM progressively lose its actual and potential support and membership especially among the young generation which takes the NRM achievements for granted, that has motivated me to do a SWOT analysis of the following;
The purpose of doing this SWOT analysis is to enable the Leadership of the NRM especially the Chairman, to specifically take note of the weaknesses so far identified, see how to take advantage of the Opportunities available in the Ugandan (Internal) regional and international (External) environment to neutralize our Weaknesses in the party, and hence gain more Strengths to stave off the political Threats against our party both in the short and long term.
A SWOT ANALYSIS
The National Resistance Movement has many strong pillars and points for its continued popular support and survival. The most important pillar of its strengths is its historical role in liberating Uganda from an epoch of wars and insecurity for all, individually and collectively.
- Organization Competences capabilities
- Management Practices
Many social strata still remember or have heard and understood the effect of;
- 1964 military mutiny in Uganda
- 1966 Crisis between Prime Minister Obote and his President Mutesa due to the failure by the two political protagonists to have a common Vision and a common Mission for Uganda;
- The 1967 – 1971 slate of emergency and political crisis in Buganda.
- Then the 1971 – 1979 rule of terror under Idi Amin Dada.
- The political coup d’etats of 1979 – 1980, which ended in an election that was not lust rigged, but inverted and overturned” by the UPC leaders, schemers and their henchmen.
- Then the population had to endure a live year war of resistance against not lust the election rigging and its riggers of 1980 elections but against a repetition of the whole historical turbulence and its consequences as listed above.
From 1986 to date, the President and chairman of NRM, who is also the C.I.0 of the NRA/UPDF, has kept Uganda in peace and security Where some of these offices exist, they are not facilitated or furnished, because the Party official may have got the office space as a donation from a Patty supporter, or if the chairman has business premises at his Trading Center, which he decides to use for both Party and Private business.
- Due to that abeyance at the structural level, resulting from a literary ‘absentee” leadership from the Secretariat to the District, Sub county and to the Village, there is no regular mobilization for government programs particularly those that target the peasant mass foundation of the Party which is essential for keeping their loyalty to their party.
- Due to the above, when the secretariat tries to re-awaken them during campaigns both the local leaders and masses tend to look for benefits in terms of what they can gain out of the campaign, before they are forgotten again for the next five years.
If there were LC 1 elections today, more than 90% of the leaders would be movement people, or NRM ‘leaning” independents, which is a new phenomenon that gives competitors an advantage from both Party Supporters and those that gravitate around the traditional individual merit’ which still strongly exists among the people’s political psyche.
There are several other issues at the grass root that are not so nagging but if which attended to, would deal with the current despondency and lack of motivation al the grass roots, which is candidature in case of competitive elections at every village of the sixty thousand villages in Uganda.
And this is proof that it is a mass Movement while other political Parties are either struggling or waning and declining.
Structurally, NRM has structures well established from the office of the National Chairman, Secretariat, down to District, Sub-county and village levels. This structural arrangement should be a strength in itself but it only suffers organizational or management weaknesses.
Right from the village to sub county up to the District, all the officials at those levels suffer from a communication disjoint, to the extent that even an Administrative Secretary of the party supposed to Administer the Party members and structures in the District is unknown, where there is one, and none existent in most districts.
This keeps Party membership and activity in abeyance till it is time for political campaigns
These structures, which should have an office, at least from sub-county upwards do not have and even at the Districts, it is not easy to trace where the chairman could receive at least mail from a member that may need to consult on any party positions, activities and programs.
For 34 years, beaten off 26 retrogressive rebel groups and insurgences that wanted to take Uganda back to the ominous past.
The NRM under its Chairman, have lifted Uganda from being a laughing stock of the region and the world, to a respectable regional leader especially on the security plane bolsted by our military internationalist / pan-African peace missions in Liberia, Somalia, South Sudan and in Central African Republic trying to save people there from terrorist LRA.
Uganda’s economy has risen from negative growth with 216% inflation rate of 1986 to today’s single digit figures.
- Economic infrastructure like roads, socio infrastructure like schools, hospitals and Health Centers to be able to take care of the fastest growing population on the continent boosted by the immunization rate achievement of 96%.
- Due to improved economic development and hence reduced poverty rates from 56% in 1986 to the current 19% or less, people can now access better health services from private health providers, better communication due to telephony penetration and many other economic indicators are NRM’s pillars and points of strength:
In summary, the NRM achievements mentioned and not mentioned above, for the last 34 years constitute its strengths.
Over and above all the above, in Uganda’s multiparty system, it is only the NRM that has presence. Support, structures and definite and programs dangerous for the Party’s future especially from the currently majority young population that tends to take for granted what the NRM has achieved in the country, and hence concentrate on their generational challenges and misguidance to the extent that they are willing to gamble with their lives, in quest of the so called CHANGE!
Being in government, the NRM has the first opportunity through its government, to harness all the human, material, financial and all the other resources legally available to it to achieve the best it can.
Within those resources for its wonderful, admirable Mission of Social-economic Transformation of Uganda as shown in its short medium and long Term Development Plans up to 2040.
Being in power brings with it popular good will from within and from without. The NRM and its government, under President Museveni has used Political Power to the very best for Uganda and the region which has brought in Economic, Political and Security allies, that must be taken advantage of to consolidate and enhance the Socio-economic and Political achievements so far made, and in turn enhance the grassroot popularity and loyalty of NRM members to their Revolutionary and Liberation Party.
The structural, organizational and mobilizational weaknesses of other Political Party Competitors against NRM, are necessarily Political opportunities for NRM to take advantage of, mobilize the masses better, conscientize them better about government Programs meant for their better production, productivity, value addition, marketability of their products, wealth creation, poverty eradication, hence well being and prosperity.
The NRM Chairman and President of Uganda H.E President Museveni, has been a Political Brand in Uganda and the region as exhibited by several leadership positions acceded to him even by his regional comrade leaders especially in conflict resolution and local Politics.
Locally, during campaigns for example, even people who have no serious loyalty and commitment to NRM as a Party, they are still willing to Vote for him at the National level but sometimes vote for independents’ at the local level against some NRM flag bearers.
The NRM Secretariat and its subordinate structures need to urgently take advantage of President Museveni’s Brand Name to mobilize and consolidate support for NRM, while the President still serves Uganda in those two capacities of NRM Chairman and President.
The majority youths generation in Uganda is an opportunity for NRM to conscientize, and mobilize into its ranks, because that is the only way to ensure continuity and sustainability.
Not taking advantage of them in their formative stages is to surrender and lose them to the other political competitor parties, as shown in the last election results of 2016 where the NRM gained far less in growth, than the FDC for example.
It was a good example of opportunity squandered for a decade!
In politics, threats tend to evolve and emerge slowly especially in a situation like Uganda where you have strong leadership that has achieved, compared either to our own past, or even our neighbours like DRC or South Sudan.
But if they are not identified in good time and neutralized, they can lead to what has happened to our traditional Political Parties that were seen as unable to lead Ugandans to prosperity, and got swept away by the NRM/NRM from 1981 to 1996.
Why 1981 to 1996? This is a time when, among other factors, there was ideological training, sometimes called Political Education or Politicization.
But when some sections of our local political contenders, in cohorts with our foreign enemies brought pressure to bear on the NRM Party and government in Parliament then, to stop “MCHAKA MCHAKA’ Training, labeling it NRM ‘indoctrination’ some of our leaders went into “Recess” on this Training, and what we have now are a youthful generation that has no ideological direction or guidance, hence becoming target of those who are targeting the NRM popularity.
They are now undisciplined, and acting as ‘unguided missiles” willing even to destroy their own future as they are subjected to lies and false promises by political self seekers and opportunists.
So, Ideological deficiency especially among the young generation is a serious THREAT to the future of NRM as a politically competent, competitive, progressive and promising Party!
Negative foreign influence – due to the above mentioned ideological deficiency, majority of our people, and especially the youths, are not able to see through the motivation and motives of the various foreign players in the name of “democracy, human rights, civil liberties among others.
Unfortunately, this influence comes with incentives and “facilitation” and promises that threaten the foundations of a stable, progressive NRM Party, government and the State.
Urbanites, world over, are usually anti- establishment in political terms.
The NRM Leadership from the Secretariat has no specific publicity plans for Programs and Projects targeting these urbanites especially those who earn their lives the hard way, yet towns have some social strata that are more conscious of social service responsibilities of government, which if not met, and no effort is made to explain what is being done by the Party, Government to ameliorate the situation, this leads the city and town dwellers to be disenchanted with the ruling Party hence tend to give a “Protest vote” at election time.
So such social strata like Bodaboda riders, carpenters, mechanics, hawkers, market vendors and that category of urbanites are fertile grounds for mobilization by ill-willed anti NRM agents and groups, if the NRM does not focus on them, they form a real Threat against the political growth and progress of the Party, and strength of Party structures at the local urban levels.
Whereas this is an International economic phenomenon and the Uganda NRM government has special programs like re-skilling the youths to be Job-marketable, providing youth livelihood fund to help the lowly educated create jobs for themselves, hardly anyone is popularizing these good programs: and ignorance of these good programs among the intended beneficiaries can’t endear them to the ruling Party and these are both urbanite and rural.
The President has put in place Presidential initiatives to eradicate Poverty like NAADS, Operation Wealth Creation, Women Empowerment Fund, Micro-finance Support Center with billions of money to help eradicate poverty from among the rural and urbanite poor.
The Political Leadership both in the office of the President and NRM Secretariat need to do more in popularizing and monitoring these programs which are currently left to the technical bureaucrats, who often are not mindful of the Political implications in case such programs are mismanaged, or simply not prioritized.
This is a real Threat against the NRM’s commitment to lift the masses from poverty, making them gullible and recruitable by political competitors.
The NRM and NRM government has no doubt made wonderful achievements in the last 34 years of its stewardship of the country, which is a big strength for the Party.
But the weaknesses mentioned above, when not diagnosed quickly and sorted out, they become and transform into Threats against continuity and sustainability of the Party performance and progress hence the party’s inability to take advantage of the opportunities available in both the internal and external environment within which NRM and its government operate.
Complacency and taking mass political support for granted are dangerous if not fatal Threat against the Party’s sustainable strength and future.
Dr Barnabas Taremwa B