Big Interview: "NRM has given up on young people," says UYD president

The president of Uganda Young Democratic (UYD) has said the government has deliberately frustrated the progress and the development of young people in the country.

In an interview with The Nile Post, Ismail Kiirya said if the government doesn’t come up with a robust programme for the young people, they are going to continue lagging behind because of the current policies which don’t favour them.

Excerpts below.


UYD is no longer as vibrant as it used to be, what has really happened?

UYD was formed in 1985 as a pressure group, by then when it was formed, political parties were banned by then.Now UYD was acting as a pressure group for Democratic Party and the founders moved the leadership up to around 2006. So when they wanted to change the leadership , they were still reinstating themselves as the leaders of UYD yet the laws were very clear that a youth is 30 years and below.

By 2010, 2011 these people were 45, 48, 38 and they could no longer push for the youth agenda by then. So the inactiveness started when the leaders were past 30 years. When they could no longer act as young people.

On top of that they didn’t want UYD to be officially amalgamated or put together with Democratic Party because of some false ideology which they were clinging on in order to get some help from the funders from outside the country.

Based on that narrative, as the leader what have you done to change the status core?

In my current leadership I have tried now to come up with the full chatter guiding UYD as a whole in the country, splitting the day, the years which someone is supposed to assume the office, the membership and I am also carrying out the registration of the members.

Before UYD was sponsored in the institutions of higher learning, you find that no leader who was sponsored by then can actually be traced. After being supported there just left There was no engagement between these leaders. As a leader right now I have come up with a charter which guide all the institutions of higher learning. We have an online system where all these leaders and members have to register. This online system enables us to access each and every person's data.

How is UYD performance in the institutions of higher learning across the country?

Currently, we are participating in the institutional politics and currently the core universities like Makerere university, MUBS, Kyambogo University we are there as UYD. Of the three universities we only managed to win Makerere University Business School, we lost in Makerere.

In Kyambogo we didn’t place a candidate but now we are having structures which are going to enable us to campaign for the next guild president in all those institutions of higher learning.

On top of that we are building a platform where all the UYD students’ leaders are going to be interacting and also going to perform their duties. As a UYD president my role will be just to monitor how these young leaders are actually leading themselves and also follow up their activities.

What concrete programmes of action do you have to make UYD stronger in the entire country?

We shall be carrying out annual elections of the UYD students union in order to get these students to participate in these elections on an annual basis. The other thing is that we are going to come up with is the UYD national leadership .At the moment on the National Executive Committee we are only four, me, the president, the vice president, the national youth secretary and the national deputy youth secretary.

Now based on the national delegates conference of 2020, we were given a mandate to re-mobilise all the districts. Once we restructure all the districts from the district up to the grassroots then that means we shall have ambassadors, representatives from each and every district right from the district up to the village level that is another point which is going to activate.

People claim that UYD has been overshadowed by DP, the mother party. Is it true?

I think that’s not true. It has not been over shadowed because as UYD we have our own leadership, we have our own activities, we have our own budget. At the moment we are in the process of opening up our account.

If the party is allocating some funds for example Shs 10 million, Shs 20 million to the UYD then let them get that money and put it in our account so that we can make our own activities then we just report to the party.

The other thing is that the party is now on pressure to get us a functional office where we can have tables, computers, printers and everything so that when a UYD member comes from Koboko, Mbarara, Mbale in Kampala to meet the UYD leadership, he or she has where to go.

Why did UYD refuse to join forces with People’s Front for Transition?

In Uganda there is no political party called UYD. In Uganda there is only one political party called Democratic Party. On that formal arrangement for the benefit of the members, if the party has not associated with any formation then UYD cannot associate with that formation.

So we thought that the formation could approach the party, clarify its agenda, clarify the aims and objectives and also have a memorandum of understanding between Democratic party and PFT but there was no way we could expect ourselves there as people who are dormant, as people who don’t have what to do.

In your view, do you think the government has done enough for the young people?

Not really, the government actually has never liked the age bracket for the youth because it has never brought a programme which is very straight forward to the youth, it has never brought any programme which has been successful. It has actually never showed us that now this program, it is for the youth.

So at the moment the government approach is poor because for us it deals from top to bottom but now the young people there are very mixed. We have those from the informal sector, from the formal sector and there is a very big disconnection between the young people of Uganda and the government of Uganda. It has failed to play an exemplary role.

In your view, how best can young people engage in national politics?

First of all, let me give you an example of how now the government is trying to do a disservice to this country. It brings the elections every year and we have the youth elections every 5 years but the government has never come out to sensitise the young people about the youth elections in the republic of Uganda.

Where do we see the future of young people in the next five years?

Now in the current government we are seeing that the young people are going to continue lagging behind because of the current policies which don’t favour them. In the current government we are going to continue  to see the high crime rates of the young people because of the current situation of education which young people are given.

Lastly, should we expect you to contest come 2026?

My future plan is that I am not leaving DP despite all the challenges which we are having. I am going to contest for another position in the political party which I am trying to think about. I am also having ambitions for myself for 2026 .At the moment, I am looking around to see which position can fit me as the UYD president in Jinja district.




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