NRM must Address the Quality of its Leaders and Programs

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew (RIP) who led his country for thirty years from third to first world country wrote that the progress of a country is proportional to the quality of its leaders. He then admonished "if you elect or have leaders on the cheap trying to equaliser opportunities and results, you're done for."

The new program, dubbed 'ideological clinic', currently conducted at the NRM Secretariat led by Richard Todwong is one small, but important cost-effective method in rekindling political mentorship. The national guidance and patriotism programs, while run by government, there's no harm NRM taking advantage of them to consolidate engagement.

Since the five year bush war days to-date, NRM built a broadbased approach to accommodate diverse, sometimes  conflicting tendencies to create harmony and drive a common national agenda which has rebuilt a country destroyed by decades of civil wars.

Thirty-five years down the road NRM political party and its leaders has continued with that tradition attracting people with dubious intentions into its membership and leadership, making continuous selection, training and mentorship more critical and imperative than ever before. Although there is undeniable progress, levels of decay are apparent but because of the liberal democracy considered elegant, some bad tendencies appear tolerated in the perception of many Ugandans.

These ominous signs aren't helped when the public regularly read with increasing evidence of our collective failure to lift the majority of Ugandans out of abject poverty, create wealth and prosperity.

It's an indictment facing what had otherwise been a progressive political organization now increasingly being infiltrated by self-seekers a the top ancheleons of leadership. Unfortunately, the prevailing conventional wisdom is that NRM has been turned into an echo chamber where leaders mostly listen to themselves. We prefer to soothe the egos of leaders fearing to be seen as trying to openly rocking the boat which could give undue advantage to a rising tide of youthful opposition dominated by a disoriented, unuseful and unrefined characters.

Consequently, robust contrary views even when valid and well-intenteded are expressed in hushed voices while looking over shoulders in trepidation to be misunderstood, and possibly isolated.


The ongoing discoveries of deep and widespread rot charaterised by extremely poor service delivery in districts by minister of state for economic monitoring Peter Ogwang, is embarrassing and infuriating. The discoveries point to glaring malaise where government and NRM political leaders have abdicated their responsibilities. It's inconceivable that NRM that has elected officials in addition to RDCs and DISOs and their deputies has to wait for Ogwang from Kampala to discover ghost boreholes, bridges or schools in their areas of administrative and political jurisdiction. It's appalling that even in areas where NRM has been dominant for decades like Sebei and Bunyoro regions civil servants can deliver grossly shoddy work without party leaders, MPs and RDCs raising a red flag.

The local government ministry, and that of the prime minister whose roles it's to supervise, and monitor service delivery are equally culpable. By this incompetence, negligence, and connivance, these RDCs, CAO's and subcounty chiefs in those areas have lost the moral authority to lead and ought to be replaced immediately. In most districs and subcounties under the guise of harmony many civil servants have warmed into friendship and allies with elected leaders including area MPs rendering monitoring and supervision weak or as Ogwang is finding out, nonexistent. For a long time now the selection, deployment, mentorship and supervision of RDCs has been poorly done, and partly explains why cases of absenteeism from duty station and unprincipled conflicts have been high. Others have taken advantage to feather nests in the cobweb of corruption usually spending more time chasing deals with contractors doing public works like roads and schools than supervision of public works. Many others use these deployments more as stepping stones to join parliamentary elective politics which has been costly.

Quite frankly many RDCs and CAOs lack self-confidence, and sense of consistency of purpose required to inspire those they lead and hence the all-round average or low performance levels in the country.

With colossal sums being spent at local levels on various programs it maybe necessary to start locally designed performance targets on projects such as clean households

 and communities, water, primary school enrollment, tracking retention and completion, improvement on feeder roads and bridges, reduction in common disease burden, and household incomes all of which when combined should reflect better community social welfare.

It looks like the trickle down economics of resource allocation and policies from the central government hasn't produced the desired results at a fast pace as should have been. It's also apparent that the introduction of many policies including UPE, USE, PMA, Naads, OWC, public universities, and now cities are chocking on low delivery.


It maybe be time to select a few districts as pilot where leaders are granted leverage to use local initiatives and innovation to solve challenges in primary schools, health and revenue mobilisation. This, combined with the efficient application of resources provided by the central government may produce leaders who float above the others.