The Grand Debate: Asessing the first 100 days of NRM's 5th elective term
19 Sep 2016
The February 2016 general elections ended with the National Resistance Army (NRM) taking up its fifth elective term of office. Soon after the elections, President Yoweri Museveni declared the term a no nonsense term, giving it the slagon “Kisanja hakuna muchezo”, emphasizing the government’s commitment to transform Uganda into a middle income country by 2020.
On 16th September 2016, over 1000 delegates including members of the public, political party representatives, the media, and academia and development partners came together in a grand debate to assess the performance of the NRM against these commitments in its first 100 days in office. The debate was held at the Golf Course hotel Kampala.
The NRM audit report titled “Museveni’s first 100 days”, was released by Uganda Governance Monitoring Platform (UGMP); a formation of the Uganda National NGO Forum. It noted that most of the priorities NRM outlined remained unchanged. Aurthur Larok, the Executive Director of ActionAid international in Uganda, a member of UGMP who presented the findings of the audit noted that there has been no evidence of the NRM government doing new things in the fifth term of office.
The report highlighted non-performance in service delivery, the fight against corruption, poverty eradication and unemployment. “As already alluded to, there is general consensus that Uganda’s public service delivery systems are in a state of despair and over the years, the government has put more emphasis on investing in physical infrastructure than building service delivery systems that are transparent, accountable and efficient,” a section of the report notes.
In response to the findings of the report, NRM’s Deputy Secretary Richard Todwong contradicted the party line when he asked delegates not to expect much. “You have elected the same party and the same president for the last five terms, “of course things will remain the same, what do you expect?”. This statement attracted a barrage of negative responses from the public that placed the NRM in an undesirable position. Even so, Ofwono Opondo, the NRM spokesperson voiced disagreement with the findings of the report asserting that the period was too short to judge the performance of the President and the Party in general.
NRM supporters at the debate argued that the party had developed a holistic approach to development in the period, embedded in a five year manifesto that detailed all the government priorities. They emphasized that the government had begun delivering on the promises it had made in its 2016-2021 manifesto.
The Forum for Democratic Party President: General Mugisha Muntu dismissed the NRM party claims urging that Uganda was on a decline and would only rise to the occasion if the impending governance challenges were addressed. This position was largely shared by the Democratic Party President Hon. Nobert Mao and Bishop Zac Niringiye. Members of the public and the opposition political parties urged that the President’s promises and priorities were unmatched. They felt there was need for prioritization of citizens needs other than large and costly infrustractural developments.
The debate was aired live on NTV, while a large section of the population got engaged online. The panelists included Arthur Larok and Bishop Zac Niringiye representing Civil Society; Hon. Norbert Mao, Maj Gen (Rtd) Mugisha Muntu, and Hon. Richard Todwong representing DP, FDC, and NRM respectively; Hon. Mwanga Kivumbi and Hon. Adeke Ebaju, from Parliament; and Media Centre’s Executive Director, Mr. Ofwono Opondo. Also on the panel was Kampala City Lord Mayor, His Worship Erias Lukwago.
The audit report was part of UGMP’s routine monitoring of government commitments.