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Long Read; Uganda Young Democrats (UYD), The genesis, evolution and contribution to Uganda politics – Hasubi Deogratias Njoki

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Uganda Young Democrats (UYD) was established in 1995, as a “Seedbed” for grooming young leaders in Democratic Party (DP), to implement the provisions of Article 24 of the DP Constitution, which had been curtailed by Legal Notice No. of NRM/A. It came into existence in the same year the „New‟ (now old) office of Democratic Party (DP) was opened on City House. I am privileged to have participated in the starting of both the office and the UYD, both of which have played significant roles and contributed immensely to the shaping of the politics of Uganda. Therefore, it is an honor to me, today, to be able to give a synopsis of UYD; its genesis, the purpose for which it was formed, how it has evolved and how it has impacted the politics of Uganda. Today many know the name UYD but few actually know what it is and why it was established.


Four political triggers informed the establishment of UYD; (1 global 3 were local).

2.1 The Global Dynamics

There was a platform for political parties founded on Christian Values, called Christian Democrat International (CDI). It brought together political parties from Europe, Latin America and Africa, which cherished and shared common principles on democracy, based on Christian (conservative) values. The Democratic Party (DP), of Uganda, was a member of CDI and by the year1995, the President of Democratic Party (DP) of Uganda, Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere, was one of the Vice Presidents of CDI. The VP was on the mailing list that used to receive reports of programs of CDI and its organs, including sthe Young Christian Democrat International (YCDI). Whereas DP was a member of CDI, the political environment in Uganda could not allow it to operate a Youth Wing and benefit from the youth programs to promote democracy and rule of law, like other CDI member parties.

2.2 NRA/M Politics

In Uganda, Legal Notice No. 1 had outlawed multiparty democracy but allowed the political parties that were already in existence, to continue existing in name and operate only at their party headquarters. They were, however, not allowed to open branches, mobilize for party activity, recruit new members, field candidates or organize delegate conferences.

2.3 General Elections 1996

By 1995, Uganda was preparing for general elections in 1996. Democratic Party was set to field a presidential candidate. As part of the preparations, DP opened new offices on City House. I got the chance to be the first Administrator of the DP Secretariat (1995-1997). The literature that was coming to the President of DP in his capacity as the VP of the CDI was coming to the DP Hqrs. From the literature we were able to see how the CDI member political parties were organizing their youth organs and how they were coordinating and networking at sub-regional, regional and global level. It was after reading the reports of YCDI that I (the Party Administrator} developed the idea of setting up the youth and the women desks at the DP Secretariat.

2.4 Dynamics within DP

About the end of April 1995, a DP member from Mubende, called Mr. Luzige, who was about to retire from the employment of Sugar Corporation of Uganda (SCOUL), Lugazi, walks into the DP Secretariat accompanied by a frail looking young man. As it later turned out, Mr. Luzige had brought his son, Luzige Joseph (junior), who was then a 3rd year student of Law, Makerere University, to introduce him to his (father‟s) political party, before he retires from employment and before the boy graduates from University.

After introducing the two visitors to the party president, I left the two seniors having a conversation and I took the student, Luzige Jnr to my office. I learnt, from the conversation, that Mr. Luzige Joseph was the chairman of the debating club of the University Hall (UH) of Makerere University. I saw that as a God sent opportunity. I asked him if it would be possible to use his office to organize a public debate at Makerere University, which he accepted.


3.1 Public Debate at UH Makerere University

The party requested FAD to mobilize the necessary resources and from behind the scenes support the debating club of the UH, Makerere University to organize a public debate, at the University Hall Quadrangle. The public debate was organized around the 10th May 1995 and was addressed by many eminent persons from different political parties and walks of life. The Guest of Honor was Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere and other DP leaders who attended included, Hon. Robert Kitariko (SG), Dr. Ojok Mulosi (PS), Hon. Everisto Nyanzi (NT), Eng. Drale (NYL), Hon. Anthony Ssekweyama (DPS), Senior Counsels; Henry Kayondo, Joseph Balikudembe, John Kawanga, Remmy Kasule, D. Muguluma, J.B.Kakooza and Hon. Henry Ssewanyana, the ED of FAD among others. The team from UPC, was led by the late Dr. Adonia Teberondwa and included, Hon. Yona Kanyomozi, M/s. Cecilia Ogwal, Hon. Patrick Mondha, Ms Night Nkulabeko and others. CP was represented by Mr. John Kenny Lukyamuzi and NRM, which had also been dully invited, sent only Mr. Kajabago Karusoke. The debate was very successful. Besides the politicians, students also participated effectively in the debate. That was were I spotted one vibrant young lady, in her first year and her names were Rose Namayanja.

3.2 FAD Workshop at Pope Pual Hotel, Ndeeba

At the end of the debate, I extended invitation to three students; the two being Joseph Luzige and Rose Namayanja and the third one was to be identified by Luzige, to attend a FAD conference, the following Saturday, at Pope Paul VI Memorial Centre, Ndeeba. They responded to the invitation. The third student was called Lubega Christopher (Agric. III) from Mukono. All the three students were recruited and issued DP membership cards during the FAD workshop. However, Mr. Lubaga Christopher never came again, up to this day. Mr. Luzige Joseph (Mubende) and Ms. Rose Namayajna (Luwero) became the first recruits on the journey towards creating what became UYD. They became the point persons in the recruitment drive of students from Makerere University. They are one who spearheaded the recruitment especially from the organized student groups at Makerere, like Nkobazamboggo, to which both Luzige and Namayanja were members.


The next event after the debate at UH and the workshop at Pope Paul VI Memorial Center was a meeting at DP headquarters. It was attended mainly by the students that had been recruited from Makerere and a few other youths from outside the university, who were volunteers at DP Hqrs. The team from Makerere University included, Joseph Luzige, Rose Namayanja, Muwanga Kivumbi, Michael Mabbike, Bayiga Michael Lulume, John Mary Ssebuwufu, Derrick Mutema, Joseph Kasirye, Samuel Lubega, Dr. Kasozi, Opendi Jorem Ochow, George Komakech, William Agirembabazi and Mutibwa Edward. Others outside Makerere who were around the DP Hqrs, included, Kiwanuka Lawrence, Vincent Mayanja, Paul K. Kakande, Richard Lumu, Kennedy Mutenyu, Bogere Sali (Jjaja), Eng. Bonny M. Kasujja, Joseph Mujuzi (RIP) and Godfrey Ntale (RIP)

In that meeting, chaired by the Party Administrator (Hasubi Deo Njoki), a resolution was made, to form a DP YOUTH ORGANIZATION, and so a youth organization was formed. That was followed by a brain storming session to decide on the name of the organization. Several suggestions were made and debated. The name Uganda Young Democrats was proposed by Bayiga Michael Lulume and it was adopted because it presented the best acronym (UYD). The idea behind the formation of UYD was bone by the DP Administrator (Mr. Deo Njoki) and UYD was born at DP headquarters, to promote the interest and objectives of DP. On that day,

the meeting ended late and it was agreed to stay the composition of the leadership of the new organization (UYD) to another date. It was then resolved that each member present was to mobilize and recruit more members across the country.

4.1 Vision and objectives
The Vision of the founders of UYD was to establish a coordinated platform, through which the Youth in Uganda and gradually in Africa, could be groomed to provide leadership in their respective political parties and countries, based on the principles of Democracy and Rule of Law in order to promote the social economic development of the African continent, like it was done in Europe, through YCDI.

i. To establish a platform to serve as a seed bed for grooming young leaders in DP

ii. To encourage other political parties in Uganda, to establish youth organizations with which the DP youth could coordinate in promoting democracy and rule

iii. To promote networking among youth organizations of political parties on the African Continent and also with other continents.


5.1 Makerere Chapter

The first branch of UYD was opened at Makerere University in June 1995. When UYD was formed about the end of May 1995, it was coming to the end of the academic term. Many of the students, who attended the initial meeting that formed UYD, were finalists. There was fear that what had been started could die out unless more continuing students were brought on board and some structure left in place at Makerere University. Since UYD had been established as a DP Youth organization, authority had to be sought from the leadership of DP to open Makerere branch. The Party Admin, Mr. Deo Njoki, wrote a letter to the Secretary General of DP seeking the authority to open the branch. The SG, the late Hon. Robert Kitariko wrote a letter authorizing the Party Administrator, to open a branch of UYD at Makerere University. That branch was launched by the DP Publicity Secretary, the late Anthony Ssekweyama.

UYD Leadership
On the 31st July 1995, an expanded team of UYD reconvened at DP Hqrs and elected the first leadership, which included the following;
i. Chairman Mr. Muwanga Kivumbi

ii. Vice Chairman Mr. Komakech Goerge

iii. President Mr. Luzige Joseph

iv. Vice President 1 Ms. Namayanja Rose

v. Vice President 2 Mr. Opendi Jorem Ochow

vi. Vice President 3 Mr. Agirembabazi William

vii. Secretary General Mr. Mabbike Michael

viii. Deputy SG Mr. Mutema Derrick

ix. Treasurer General Mr. Ssebuwufu Joseph Marry

x. D/Treasurer Dr. Kasozi Charles

xi. Speaker Mr. Lubega Samuel

xii. D/Speaker Dr. Lulume Michael Bayiga

xiii. International Affairs Mr. Mayanja Vincent

xiv. D/Inter Affairs Mr. Mugisha Celestin

xv. Publicity Sec. Mr. Kasirye Joseph

xvi. D/Publicity Sec. Eng. Kasujja Bonny M

xvii. Federal Affairs Mr. Bogere Ssali John

xviii. Welfare Mr. Godfrey Ntale

The leadership positions were later increased to cater for women, the regions and the students and therefore the list expanded.

5.3 Other UYD Chapters

In fulfillment of Art. 24 of the DP constitution, the leadership of UYD embarked on a recruitment drive, which rolled out across the country, targeting mainly the institutions of higher learning.

Chapters were opened in Kyambogo University, MUBS Nakawa, Mubenede NTC, Muni NTC (Arua), Kihiki NTC (Fortportal) among others and later moved lower to Secondary Schools. Other later UYD members like Hon. Brenda Nabukenya and Suzan Abbo, were recruited from Kyambogo & Mak. Universities respectively


6.1 Youth Capacity Building

UYD members and recruits had good and continuous training, especially in the art of public speaking but also in research and alternative policy analysis and articulation. No UYD member would be sent out on assignment without proper training. Whoever was to go on an outreach program, be it to a University, College, Radio or TV talk show or just to speak at a public event, had to be equipped with facts. That was made possible through the programs of the Foundation for African Development (FAD), a political “Think Tank”, which shares common core values on democracy and rule of law, with DP. Otherwise, it could have been very difficult for DP because of the restrictions that were imposed by (Legal Notice No. 1 1986)

6.2 Civic Education
UYD members became the “Targeted Hot Cakes”. Because of the oratory power they developed, together with the facts they carried, UYD became a social mobilization tool. People started inviting UYD members to speak at social functions as a way of mobilizing and entertaining the public, because alternative voice from that of the movement leaders had been silenced. That gave UYD opportunity to do civic education at minimal financial cost. But that also made them targets of the agents of the state. Besides the social events and radio talk shows, the more organized way of conducting civic education was done through the FAD organized workshops and seminars, where UYD members could facilitate. UYDs were the pioneers on the public discussion programs where the leaders were called to account for their responsibilities and actions, (Baraza, Kimeza or radio talk shows), others copied after that and today, even the government is following in the footsteps of UYD.

6.3 Elections Campaigns

Political Parties had been handicapped. They could neither call delegates conferences nor field candidates. In the 1996 General Election, the political parties that were in existence, when NRA/M captured power in 1986, opted to field a joint presidential candidate, Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere. UYD was the only available political outfit, which was active while at the same time not a political party, as restricted by Legal Notice No 1 of 1986. It became the platform for the youth from different political parties to join and participate in the campaigns. Under the umbrella of UYD, the youth of DP and of other political parties campaigned together. The UPC team brought on board the Arrow Boys, from Lira, under the command of the Iron Lady Madam Cecilia Ogwan and also youth from other parts of the country, like Nelson Ochegere (Ngora), Patrick Okiria (Palisa), Kato (Bushenyi) among others. Some of them even joined the leadership structure of UYD.

6.4 Guild Leaderships

UYD has provided platforms and spearheaded Guild Presidential campaigns in many Universities, Colleges and Schools, hence became grooming ground for young leaders in Uganda. Some of the people who became leaders through UYD, include Hon. Fred Mukasa Mbidded, Hon. Asuman Basalirwa, Hon. Brenda Nabukenya, Mr. Yusuf Kiranda, Ms. Suzan Abbo, Mr. John Okware, Mr. Katta, etc, the list is endless.

These young leaders joined and benefited from UYD, which they found existing. They were not the founders of UYD and UYD did not and does not belong to them. 6.5 Political Party Leadership Many of the current leaders of DP, starting with the President General, VP, SG, NOS, PS, LA, NYL are products of UYD and some have even taken up leadership in other political parties, e.g. Hon. Asuman Basalirwa, the President of JEEMA, Hon. Michael Mabbike, the first SG of UYD, now President of SDP, Mr. Joseph Luzige (Chairman LCV Mubende NRM) and Mr. Idd Ouma, former UYD member on the Busia District team, became the National Youth Leader of FDC.

6.6 National Leadership

Besides leadership at political party level, there are many people in leadership positions, having been groomed by UYD, including the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly (Hon. Oulanya), the National Treasurer NRM (Hon. Rose Namayanja), the Lord Mayor of KCCA, (Hon. Erias Lukwago) and several MPs. 6.7 UYD Networks UYD has made a mark not only on the political landscape of Uganda, but also on the global scene. It established contacts and networks with youth of other political parties in Uganda, on the African continent and in Europe some of which are still alive today.

They have been invited to participate, talk and share their experiences at events organised by the youth of other political parties both on the African continent and in Europe. They have established global networks. Picture vi; The first UYD President, Mr. Joseph Luzige (C/man LCV Mubende District), the first Vice President, Ms Rose Namayanja (NRM National Treasurer), the DP Admin and UYD Vision Bearer Mr. Hasubi Deo Njoki in company of two visiting youth from Norwegian Conservative party

7.0 CHALLENGES (What Went Wrong?)

7.1 Mutual Suspicion and Indiscipline

The vice of mutual suspicion among the leadership and membership of UYD is as old as UYD itself. It was evident soon after the first leadership was elected, e.g. during the Makerere University Guild Election campaigns (1996), UYD fielded two candidates for the Guild President, i.e. Mr. Muwanga Muhammad Kivumbi (UYD National Chairman) and Ms Namayanja Rose (UYD 1st Vice President). They totally failed to reach a compromise. UPC also had a candidate in the names of Galogitho. The mother political parties (DP & UPC) had to make a high level decision, to leave the two DP/UYD candidates and support the UPC candidate (Galogitho) and he won.

7.2 Undermining DP and opposition in Uganda

With all the good attributes and achievements registered against her name, UYD can also be credited for contributing to the internal conflicts within DP and undermining her chances and chances of the opposition political parties in Uganda from taking state power. Some people who have been trained by UYD have become indiscipline and others outright traitors and worked against the mother party, DP

7.3 Infiltration and Pouching

A number of the leaders of UYD have been targeted and some have fallen prey to the state agents of the NRM government and other political parties. While some have out rightly crossed over and joined the state or other political parties, like Mr. Joseph Luzige, Ms. Rose Namayanja, Suzan Abbo and Peter Okware (NRM), Mr. Asumani Basalirwa (JEEMA), Mr. Michael Mabikke and Mr. Lubowa (SDP) and Mr. Idd Ouma (FDC), others are suspected to have been compromised and left to remain in UYD to undermine it from within, by claiming that UYD has no links with DP. Others have even attempted to hoodwink unsuspecting leaders of other political outfits during campaigns that UYD is an independent political pressure group with which they can enter agreements separately without DP. Unless if there is a different UYD, but the Uganda Young Democrats (UYD) which started at DP Hqrs, is the SEEDBED of DP. It’s core objectives were and are, to recruit new members into DP and to mobilize for DP activities.

The UYD team supported the DP Presidential bid in 1996. There the Inter Party Forces Cooperation (IPFC) joint Presidential Candidate, Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere, walks out of the International Conference Center after the launch of his Presidential Manifesto 1996, escorted by the UYD Security Team. Immediate right is the team commander, Hon. Stephen Ssemaala (Kalangala) and his deputy Mr. Jorem Opend Ochow (Tororo)

If anybody ever claims to own another UYD different from the UYD of DP, that can only be something else but not the Uganda Young Democrats (UYD).

The Author, Hasubi Deogratias Njoki, was the Administrator at both the DP Hqrs at City House and the IPFC Hqrs at Kabuusu. He is the Vision Bearer and Brain Father of Uganda Young democrats (UYD) 0772631777