NRM, NUP in early campaigns ahead of 2026
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on Thursday February 23, 2023 kicked off his Wealth creation tour of Acholi sub region in which he showed interest in continuing to propagate the four-acre model of farming.
Unknown whether it was by coincidence or by design, the ruling party’s arch rivals – the National Unity Platform (NUP) also launched their mass mobilization campaign dubbed Kunga Uganda – a campaign that seeks to keep their vibe among ordinary Ugandans.
The two parallel programmes, coming two years since the end of the last disputed general elections, look like early campaigns ahead of the 2026 general elections in which the incumbent is expected to participate with the view to try to extend his rule beyond 40 years.
At a 250-acre mixed farm at Keto Village, Lakwana Sub-county in Omoro District which belongs to Mr. Pascal Osire, Museveni praised the agriprenuer for listening to the NRM message of creating wealth ‘in our homes’ by starting farming on one acre growing commercially and diversifying into the growing of other
“In just under two years Mr Osire has gone from four acres of planting Chili to owning over 250 acres of land & has diversified into growing & processing produce like Gonja, Pepper, Cashew Nuts etc. This is a good example of how poverty can be eradicated, i.e start with one acre, look after your crop, harvest bigger yields and get more money.”
It should be noted that Museveni’s wealth creation tour of Acholi came against the background of heightened tensions over the government’s decision to forcefully evict from Apaa land. The top political leaders from across the sub region, including religious leaders, cultural leaders and Members of Parliament had met the previous day to present their position to the President following a recent Cabinet decision to evict people from Apaa land.
The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Norbert Mao, hinted at the high degree of resistance towards the government’s position on Apaa when he said: “There have been many issues and the members of Acholi Parliamentary Group (APG) have a short presentation to make. The issues range from Apaa land, where you promised to form a judicial commission to investigate and come up with a solution, including the fate of our people in detention in Adjumani [District].”
But Museveni showed no interest in being dragged into the land conflict, which he describes as sectarianism.
The conflict over Apaa land – which is located on the boundary of Amuru and Adjumani districts, started after two ethnic groups – the Madi and the Acholi – that had habited it for generations, started to fight over it. The government chose to convert part of the land, which was largely occupied by the Acholi, into a game reserve, sparking protests.
Brief background on Apaa
In 2017, the government demarcated boundaries between Amuru and Adjumani districts after which it placed Apaa village under Adjumani, to the dismay of the Acholi people from Amuru with whom they have inhabited the land for decades. Since then, the attacks have been recurring as Madi community want the Acholi people pushed out of the land.
While presenting a statement on the floor of Parliament on February 8, 2022 in regard to the investigations on the renewed Apaa attacks, Minister of state for Internal Affairs, Gen. David Muhoozi said that whereas the government has engaged several stakeholders to have the issue solved amicably, the conflict is still being fuelled by local politicians.
“The conflict in Apaa has been hijacked by politicians on either side to the disadvantage of the local cultural institutions through which land conflicts have always been resolved in this part of the country. Where communities previously co-existed amicably, underlying these communal tensions are self-interests of leaders for land and political capital,” Gen. Muhoozi said.
The Acholi have protested the proposed compensation of UGX10m, 20 pieces of iron sheets and 10 bags of cement, as a joke.
Away from Acholiland, the leading Opposition party – the National Unity Platform (NUP), launched its Kunga Mobilisation Campaign aka Kunga Uganda. The launch took place at the party headquarters at Bwaise-Kavule in Kampala.
The Leader of Opposition in Parliament Mathias Mpuuga said Kunga Uganda is aimed at rallying their base to support one leadership.
Mpuuga said: “I reminded our party’s membership of the need to move as a single unit with one command centre. While our members have a right to free speech, uncoordinated movement of troops, blackmail and propaganda will take derail our cause to the benefit of the Dictator! The English say, “Too many cooks spoil the soup,” while the Baganda say, “Amamese amangi tegesimira bunnya.”
The campaign is seen as an effort to re-energize NUP’s base especially within Buganda to remain united behind the leadership of Robert Kyagulanyi, and to help the MPs return to their electorates ahead of the 2025 political campaigns.
It also comes against reports that NUP has been infiltrated by agents of the ruling NRM. Following the release from prison of the two MPs Muhammed Ssegirinya and Allan Ssewanyana, there has been propaganda that NUP leaders made some concessions to the ruling party, to have the two MPs leave jail.
LOP Mathias Mpuuga has particularly come under the spotlight over his leadership, with some faulting his assumed conciliatory tendency.
The two parties are taking an early test of their popularity in the public, and assess their performance so far, in preparation for 2026.
For NUP, the campaign is timely as it will help to keep its members in touch with their electorates. And for the ruling NRM, the President’s prosperity tour will also help to bring to the surface the public’s discontent on service delivery.