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NUP’s biggest dilemma

Why Bobi Wine’s new party will find it even more difficult to defeat Museveni in 2021 compared to FDC in 2006

| THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | This week, the National Unity Platform of Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine launched itself with two defections of NRM MPs and two other independent legislators. It was presented as a big event. Yet for all the hype, and compared to the birth of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) in 2005, NUP seems to me to be a stillbirth. The MPs from NRM are nonentities whose names no one I have met can remember. Only Latif Sebagala from DP has some gravitas. In 2005 FDC was formed with many MPs, elected local government leaders and other leading figures on Uganda’s political scene from across the entire country.

From Western it had Kizza Besigye, John Kazoora (MP), Augustine Ruzindana (MP), Miria Matembe (MP), Jack Sabiti, James Garuga Musinguzi, Amanya Mushega, Eriya Kategaya, Winnie Byanyima, John Butime, Mugisha Muntu, Mathew Rukikaire, Ingrid Turinawe (district speaker Rukungiri), Yona Kanyomozi, Richard Kaijuka, Winnie Babihuga (MP), Athanatius Rutaro (LCV chairman Rukungiri), Dr Runumu (LCV chairman Kabale), Odo Tayeebwa (speaker Bushenyi later FDC MP), Makuru, mayor Rukungiri, Pius Rwemurana (mayor Kabale), Asaba Ruyonga (mayor FP).

From Eastern there was Abdul Katuntu (MP), Salam Musumba (MP), Frank Nabwiso (MP), Nandala Mafabi (MP), Wafula Oguttu, Geoffrey Ekanya (MP), Emmanuel Dombo (later switched to NRM), Patrick Amuriat (MP), Wandera Ogalo (MP), Jack Wamanga (MP), Francis Epetite (MP).

From Northern region there were MPs Reagan Okumu, Morris Ogenga Latigo,Kasiano Wadri, Odongo Otto, Christine Abiya, Elija Okupa, Alice Alaso, Akello Franka, Anita Among, Florence Ibbi,  David Pulkol, Moses Adome, Beatrice Anywar and many other local government leaders, businessmen, prominent intellectuals etc.

In Central region there was, Beti Kamya, Sulleiman Kigundu, Sam Njuba, Ibrahim Kasozi, Senteza Kajubi, Prof Kanyerezi, Prince Kimera MP, Joyce Subugwawo (current major of Rubaga). There were people like Cecelia Ogwal, Ben Wacha and Okullo Epak who supported Besigye for presidential candidate. This list is by no means exhaustive but it gives a good picture of how prominent and widely spread FDC began. These people had experience and skills of running elections and enjoyed widespread respect in the country and the communities from which they came.

Thus by the time Besigye returned from exile, there were branches of FDC across the entire country in almost every district! The party was also able to field serious candidates for parliament and LC because of the strength of its leaders even though some retreated to NRM. The party’s strength was built on the back of these MPs, LC councillors and powerful political figures. This is especially important in a country where political parties lack organisation depth. NUP is born without this strategic advantage.

Without prominent leaders, to be strong a party in a peasant society like Uganda needs to ally with institutions of state (as NRM has done), church (as UPC and DP had done historically), or ethnic group (as KY had done in the 1960s) to penetrate society. NUP has strong emotional support, great brand appeal but has no organisational infrastructure. This means they cannot easily convert their brand appeal into votes.


  1. Then why did you join a failing camp, I thought you had weighed all options and zeroed on NUP!! MOLE but if you think they don’t know they know!

  2. Did you write the article before joining people NUP? As a member who is even vying to be the president of the party, these are things which I believe you should raise internally not in the press.

  3. An Enthusiastic People Power supporter

    The irony of a person( Mwenda) convinced that People Power/NUP are supposedly a bunch of political amateurs lacking in leadership & organization abilities with little to no chances of taking state power yet spends a good portion of his time obssesing about the very people he has contempt for and & never misses an opportunity to be condescending/ patronizing towards, is amusing and so is the know-all attitude

    Your choice of comparison of People Power / NUP vs Reform Agenda/FDC in recruiting the initial membership/ leadership misses the point.
    This is evidenced by the glaring failure of those supposed topnotch recruits of FDC to build an organization capable of taking power as lamented repeatedly by General Mugisha & should have been a wake up call to those who confuse having university education with intellect/ organization abilities.

    The current People power /NUP should more accurately be compared to 1981 NRM/NRA, a motley collection of naive university graduates, failed Marxist politicians, aggrieved peasants,refugees etc almost all lacking any miltary training but never the less took up arms against a Uganda govt trained & supported by North Koreans, the British etc & captured power after a 5 year war. Any skills/ competencies initially lacking by the NRA/NRM membership/ leadership were gradually built during the war as the circumstances dictated.

    People power/NUP leadership/ membership like the 1981-86 NRM/NRA, is also an evolving organization that is responding to its environment & is building the necessary capacity to capture & retain power.

  4. Andrew, now that you’re a registered member of NUP, you should show devotion to your new party by giving this sound advice to the party organs. You don’t have the luxury to criticise the party you intend to lead, through the media; you are now washing your dirty linen in public.

  5. Saddened Ugandan

    Wama Andrew just keep writing about these things. We have never seen this kind of transparency anywhere, yet it is much needed and it is what Ugandans deserve, and it is even good way of setting NUP apart from the rest. Documenting the growth and development of NUP like this can attract longer lasting support and loyalty. This is how NUP is going to locate itself in the challenging political landscape and take center stage, through transparency and honesty. It inspires trust, especially long term. Please keep writing.

  6. To water down all that has been stated by my friend Mwenda (I refer to him as “friend” because he as at least had the guts to associate with people power), NRM is not politically entrenched. No, it’s state patronage, corruption that fuels/refuels the burn. Kyangulanyi has been my FDC and NRM even when they are structurally and experiencially superior not once but in most of the by-elections. What needs to be done is to replicate the same onto the national stage. What Mwenda is expressing here is largely emotional and therefore, hogwash.

  7. has beaten my FDC

  8. Mr. Mwenda, how many MPs did your god Museveni take to the bush when he was starting the rebellion? Ugandans know what they want and are not going to rely on a group of thugs called MPS

  9. 1.The current political trend in Uganda has really marketed M7 because the world now knows the consequence of electing a certain caliber of leaders;Brazil and USA will live to regret the decision they made.
    2.Does Africa have time for try and error in politics?Havent we learnt enough?
    3.If the first world has witnessed the consequence of electing clowns to lead them how about Africa?
    4.It would be nice if M7 told us that the challenges he faces as a President.
    5.Uganda’s politics has been shaped by the army;How sure are we that if Bobi Wine is elected President; he will earn the respect from the army?
    6.Its normal for a 4 year old child to get excited when he sees a birth day cake;it would be abnormal if a 25 year did the same;I beleive that ITS SOME KIND OF ABNORMALITY FOR BOBI WINE TO VIE FOR PRESIDENT
    7.There are some many olds in society today;What should be abnormal is the new normal today;For example a 20 year old lady gets married to a 85 year Old man you wonder whether she will be a wife of a bedside nurse;Good men are marrying women who have been “Public Sockets”,Good women are being married by drunkards.
    8.But Andrew;Who still believes in Cecelia Ogwal…,Betty Kamaya…?Those who are 45 years and below don’t understand such stuff mbu voting as a Tribal block and on Religious basis that stuff ended long ago.Todays’s role models are Rihanas;Beyonce,Kim Karadashains.
    9.This generation relies on chance and luck.
    10.M7 will always win every election he participates in;How will the world react to the news that Bobi Wine has defeated M7?

  10. Andrew you have an unnatural fixation and obsession with NUP: you just cannot say anything nice about them!!. I suspect it stems from deep seated envy that these young guys are able to do what you have secretly aspired to but do not have the grit and guts to take on the brutal regime of M7. Like all pseudo intellectuals you have resorted to writing and and criticizing Besigye for the past 15 years and now Bobi. Remember that Obote ( an intellectual you admire) when advised by his military commanders to deal a fatal blow on M7 rebels dismissed them as mere bandits and chicken thieves; the rest is history. I am sure if you were old enough at that time you would have been criticizing Museveni.

  11. By the way Mr M9 have you returned your application forms which you picked the other time after being registered as an NUP member, in which you expressed your interest to stand for both party president & presidential candidate in the forthcoming party delegates conference?
    If you have, have you realized that even before the first vote is cast you’ve scored far less than 10% of hon Kyagulanyi’s votes? Why? Coz you’re so angry & venomous against the party you so passionately want to superintend over! Your beneath ambition of whatever nature in NUP (read people power) is hereby declared “dead on arrival”!!!

  12. In other words, Andrew Mwenda is saying that: his brand new party, NUP is actually a “Baganda Yekka” party; akin Kabaka Yekka party at independence.

  13. Wycliffee Atwine Muhangi

    This is exactly what is transpiring in NUP. We have been in primary elections, but sincerely NUP has had their primaries limited to a few big towns. Else where NUP is not known to exist and they think they will earn alien votes. Hahaaaa!! See you in 2021 guys.

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