Uganda Peoples Congress
Plot 8-10 Kampala Road, Uganda House,
P. O. Box 9206, Kampala
Secretary General's report to National Council Meeting April 2008
22 November 2008
REPORT BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL TO MEMBERS OF NATIONAL COUNCIL AT UGANDA HOUSE, 22nd NOVEMBER, 2008
Madam Party President,
Distinguished Members of the National Council,
Ladies and Gentlemen
SECRETARY GENERAL'S REPORT
- I join the Party President and the National Chairman in welcoming you to this great meeting. Ever since your election to office in 2005, it has not been possible for us to gather and deliberate on the affairs of our party.
- After your election you joined other delegates who convened in this very hall on 20th November 2005. At this historic meeting, the delegates elected Mama Miria Obote as the President on our Party. In exercise of her powers under article 7(4) of the Party Constitution she immediately appointed a team of National Officials to manage the day to day affairs of our Party. It is now my pleasant duty to report to this august Council how we at the Secretariat have performed over the last two years and five months.
Management of the Presidential and Parliamentary elections
- The immediate challenge that we faced at the Secretariat as soon as we assumed office was to arrange for the nomination of the our President as a candidate for the forthcoming elections. With minimum material and human resources we were able to:
- Complete drafting, editing and printing of the election manifesto.
- Collect signatures nationwide and prepare nomination papers for our Presidential candidate.
- Manage the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
- Regardless of the results of those elections, it was a monumental exercise to prepare and actively participate in those elections at such short notice. I thank all of you for your selfless contribution to that electoral exercise.
- At the time we assumed office, the Secretariat was manned by a bureaux Secretary for Finance and Administration and a Bureaux Secretary for Political and Legal Affairs as the most senior staff of the Party. We had only one Secretary. Under the shoe string budget that we operate, we have been able to improve on the staffing position. Todate we now have:
- A bureau Secretary for Administration and Finance - Ms. Aliah Asiimwe
- A bureau Secretary for Mobilisation - Mr. Patrick Aroma
- A bureau Secretary for Youth - Mr. Eric Sakwa
- A bureau Secretary for Women - Ms. Cecilia Anyakoit
- A bureau Secretary for Communication - Mr. Benson Ogwang
We also recruited a Secretary, Ms. Susan Awino to work in the President's office. Besides there is a cadre of other staff at the Secretariat.
- Other than this recruitment, we have been able to train staff at the Secretariat to equip them with skills of various kinds. With the support of the International Republican Institute (IRI) it has been possible to train and work with staff to produce:
- A communication policy framework.
- Work programmes for the different departments
- Party Secretariat manual
- We are completing negotiations on the details of another training package for staff with a friendly organization. The proposed programme will cover computer training, project writing and management and accounting.
Preparation and dissemination of a strategic plan
- From January 1986, when the NRM short itself into power till 22nd March, 2005 when our Party was registered under a less draconian Political Parties and Organisations Act, the NRM barred the UPC from lawfully operating. In nearly two decades, the Party was demonized and misrepresented. The Party could not respond to new challenges posed by the changing political, economic and social developments in Uganda and the world.
- To be able to position itself into a winning position, the party had to do a strength, weakness, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis and make a comprehensive five year programme of action. Through a series of training sessions, workshops and studies the Secretariat was able to develop a comprehensive strategic plan (2006-2011) that is the subject of discussion at this meeting.
Preparation and dissemination of proposed constitutional amendments.
- The UPC Constitution was last amended in 1970 and has stood still as Uganda and the world moved on. Your secretariat has commissioned studies to advise on the best way to restructure our supreme document to reflect the realities of Uganda today and the aspirations of our members. The fruits of this intensive activity are the proposals that we lay before you for discussion. This in one of the several consultative fora where this document has been presented. We have already presented it to regional consultative meetings and the Central Executive Committee.
We hope that all views on this document, including those that this Council will generate, will be the basis of final discourse by the Annual Delegates Conference which will have to make binding decisions on these proposals.
- The Youth are a major pillar of our party. To invigorate the role of the Youth in UPC, we appointed a bureau Secretary for Youth as indicated above. With a fully fledged youth desk at the Secretariat it has been possible to plan for youth training, recruitment and more fuller participation in the Party.
- With the limited funds available to us, we have been able to hold a number of youth training workshops in the last two years in Gulu (June, 2006), Soroti (August, 2006), Mityana (March, 2007), Bushenyi (June, 2007). The process of reviving UPC branches in higher institutions of learning has been ongoing. This has enabled our students to participate in guild elections on UPC party ticket. Under a programme currently being developed with one donor, we are slated to organize more youth workshops where the Party ideology, past achievements and future challenges will be discussed. This will enable youth leaders to articulate the Party position and to recruit.
- In recognition of the women as a pillar of the Party and country, a women's desk headed by a bureau Secretary was created at the Secretariat. A number of programmes to recruit, integrate and train women have been developed. Their implementation was slowed down by the death of our then National Women leader, Salome Kamure. With the recent appointment of Mrs. Ruth Masika and Ms. Gorretti Byaruhanga as National Women leader and Assistant National Women leader respectively, I am confident that they will give political leadership to the implementation of these women programmes.
Central Executive Committee Meeting
- Eleven months ago (26th May, 2007) we were able to organize and hold a historic Central Executive Committee Meeting. All members who attended that meeting are here with us today since they are all members of the National Council.
District Training Programmes
- The proper management of the Party at district and lower levels is critical to the growth of the Party. In recognition of the potential of the District leaders to move the Party to greater heights, the Secretariat with the assistance of the International Republican Institute (IRI) has structured a district leaders training programme. This programme aims at training district leaders to manage the district office, mobilize resources and implement the strategic plan. After successful testing of the programme in the pilot districts of Kayunga, Gulu, Mbale and Mbarara we are organizing to roll out this programme to all districts. The pace of the roll out will depend on availability of funds. You are all encouraged to assist the District leaders to implement what they have learnt in these programmes.
Public campaigns and engagements
- The Secretariat has organized and conducted public campaigns to keep the visibility of the Party in the public mind and to attract support from the public. These include:
- Memorial services and activities for our late leader, Dr. Apollo Milton Obote in Apac (December, 2006) and Mbale (December, 2007).
- Weekly press statements to articulate the position of the Party on topical matters. Last week we called for a public inquiry into the Budo Junior fire disaster. This week we addressed the serious issue of famine in Uganda and the lack of policy on food security.
- Whenever possible leaders from the Secretariat have participated in important social functions like:
- Funerals of public figures and party members.
- Social events like consecration of bishops, enthronement of cultural leaders, weddings, graduations etc.
- Public rallies, fundraisings and similar events for example Lira, Apac, Nebbi, Arua, Amuria, Amolatar, Mbale, Lugazi. Most of these events have been organized at the initiative of district leaders.
- Wherever the Party leaders at District, Constituency or National levels have been able to identify willing candidates, the party has participated in bye-elections. These have included:
- Apac L. C. V Chairmanship - we won.
- Dokolo Women Parliament seat.
- Oyam South Constituency bye-election - we won.
- Bukooli North Constituency by-election.
- When the Party lost power and its activities were prescribed by the ruthless NRM dictatorship, it could not easily keep contacts with its friends abroad. In the process many of our friends abroad forgot about us.
- We have over the last two years engaged in quiet diplomacy to win back old friends and get new ones. I am happy to report that, thanks to efforts of our leaders here and in the diaspora, we have been able to revive relationships with the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) of Tanzania, Social Democratic Party (SDP) of Germany, the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa. Contacts with the United Independence Party (UNIP) of Zambia and the All India Congress Party have also been initiated. We are in talks with the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) of Kenya and several other parties who are members of Socialist International. We have strengthened our ties with the Friedrick Ebert Foundation (FES) and a lot of work in progress with them is underway.
- To consolidate these relationships, we need to continue to improve on our work and image here at home. We need to constantly demonstrate to our friends that we are serious on our ideals and can be dependable.
Redefining Party ideology
- After two decades of one party rule, at least two generations of Ugandans, especially youth below 35 years do not appreciate what UPC uniquely stands for. They do not understand what core values of the Party distinguish it from other political parties like NRM, FDC, DP, JEEMA and CP. Indeed in our strategic plan, the issue of redefining our ideology so that it is a dynamic one and responsive to the changing environment and the aspirations of our people is identified as strategic objective No. 1. UPC was founded as a left of centre party. It espouses social democratic principles or what is broadly called socialist ideology. The challenge is how to redefine socialist policies to fit in the changing world after the end of the cold war and the advent of globalization.
- We organized a very fruitful retreat in November 2007 with the support of FES. A comprehensive project is underway to engage party leaders at all levels, the youth, women students workers, peasants and the public in debates to redefine our social democratic ideals in line with contemporary thinking and aspirations. We shall be drawing on our past and reviewing the policy positions of the party on agriculture, co-operatives, health care, industry, labour, trade, foreign investment, privatization, public service reform and others to evolve new policies and ideologies that redefine our socialist path. You will all be involved in this grand vote-winning project.
- For your secretariat to be able to carry out Party Programmes, we require funds. For example, to prepare and circulate a document to 380 members of the National Council requires reams of papers, ink, a printer and photocopying facilities, let alone envelopes and means of transport to disseminate it. For party officials to travel country wide and conduct party work, including attending to invitation to members' social functions, resources are required. Needless to mention, organizing any party meeting costs money. The forefathers of our Party had the foresight to set up the Milton Obote Foundation (MOF) and its subsidiaries to be the financial arm of the Party. It would provide the basis for financial security of the Party. Other revenue sources like membership fees, annual subscription and donations would supplement the basic revenue from MOF.
- Immediately after the 2006 Parliamentary elections the leadership of MOF took a surprise decision to stop funding of the Party. Attempts were made to resolve the matter amicably but to no avail. Some MOF leaders, with the support of some party members, argued that MOF as a separate legal entity from UPC was the absolute owner of all its properties including Uganda House. In their view, UPC has no claim to MOF properties and MOF has no responsibility to fund party activities. Our argument at the Secretariat has been that MOF holds the assets it has as a custodian (trustee) for the Party. In absence of any amicable agreement we were constrained to refer the dispute to the High Court as the arbiter of last resort.
- Fortunately, your leaders did not close the door to dialogue. I am happy to report that UPC and MOF leaders have resumed discussions with a view to an amicable settlement. These kinds of negotiations are always delicate. We seek your support and understanding. We request that in our party's best interests, let no one either at this meeting or hereafter utter any word or do anything that would jeopardize these negotiations.
- Managing our Party without adequate resources and in the troubled politics of Uganda is a real sacrifice. The officials at the Secretariat offer voluntary service out of conviction and love for their Party. They report to the Secretariat and work there or in the field at their own expense. They do not receive even one shilling for transport, meals or airtime. While they expect you to demand for accountability of their activities and are prepared to accept constructive criticisms, they are saddened by unnecessary bickering. While we do not demand for praises for volunteering for our party, we expect some recognition for what we have been able to deliver. It is such recognition that will encourage us and our successors to value working for our great party. If we respect and support each other and work selflessly through established organs of the Party, victory will most likely come our way.
For God and my Country
Peter Mukidi Walubiri