Will the Yellow Youth Movement give President Museveni his last win in 2026?

Opinions -->
Will the Yellow Youth Movement give President Museveni his last win in 2026?
The Yellow Youth Movement

By Tony Tumukunde

One of the biggest challenges of President YK Museveni is now his ability to retain the youth vote in the city and across the country. The mobilization of young people living in urban areas is one that clearly will not dissipate.

Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world, with a median age of 17. Moreover, between 2015 and 2020 its urban growth rate was higher than any other country globally.

This connotes that it is the biggest constituency for every potential presidential candidate and each one’s ability to retain the youth support raises a higher probability of forming a formidable party with enough support to garner a presidential victory

It is probably on the above premise that on February 24, 2024, the NRM National Youth Council Chairperson Jacob Eyeru led the formation of the ‘Yellow Youth Movement (YYM)’ which he said is aimed at revitalizing the life and the role of youths in the NRM party ahead of the next polls. He said this youth mobilization will focus on four areas; promoting quality and compulsory free education for all the children of Uganda, ensuring health care for all Ugandans and promoting mass vocational skilling of youths.

Chairman Eyeru, as I prefer calling him believes that with the four sectors of wealth creation and job creation, the youths can attain sustainable development.

He remarked;

“YYM adds to the many initiatives which, from last year, have come up to support the candidature of the veteran president in 2026, including the #TovaKuMain campaign of the Office of the National Chairman (ONC) headed by Hajjat Hadijah Namyalo”

The question is, what’s next?

Museveni’s political party – the National Resistance Movement – has been the ruling party in Uganda since 1986. But its popularity has now hit rock bottom in the country’s urban areas, particularly among young people which explains the force behind the YYM Initiative. To the members of this initiative, which I see as an utter reciprocation of the UYD.

As of 2021 election results, Bobi Wine and his National Unity Platform commanded a lot of youth support in Kampala and across the country and President Museveni and his NRFM were widely rejected. It is because of the youth’s effect that NUP won nine of the 10 parliamentary seats in Kampala. The 10th seat was retained by an incumbent independent MP, clearly proving a zero-seat turn out for NRM.

One would argue that, unlike other opposition political parties, NUP enjoys the support of growing demographic dissatisfactions of these youths, most of whom believe that the despairs they are facing is caused by the NRM.

Unfortunately, the NRM political wing has at all times failed to answer the open questions of the day that these youths have asked hence falling prey to the opposition's whims. The youths of this country have never got a lasting and permanent solution to unemployment, hunger, disease, or decision participation. They have been fed on piecemeal handouts dashed in the ghettos of the city.

The president should not fall victim to these bizarre parties organized for him to enjoy NRM youth's praises, most of whom come to get “Mugatti” for the day. His party, NRM must present a breadth of strategies and tactics used to garner support from urban opposition. To many, wads of cash do not work.

That is an hour tactic. Rather, institutional restructuring, waiving taxes and regulations, stopping militarization, avail answers to missing persons, compensating the land eviction victims, providing a balanced justice system, creating employment hubs and think tanks, free access to the internet and stopping open terror on the streets(where youths are ferried in dark vans in broad daylight).

In the early 2000s, Museveni enjoyed Kampala's win during the presidential elections and one of his strategies was to win over Kampala’s huge number of informal workers. This his advisers have lost. The introduction of KCCA enforcement officers on the streets has done more harm than good to him.

He built support among the city’s market vendors, carpenters, salon operators, restaurant owners and transport workers by constantly intervening to prevent the city council from implementing taxes and regulations. He also showered workers’ associations with microfinance schemes and other sporadic favours. In one way or the other this cascaded to the Kampala Youths. This may have even yielded some results with an uptick in support in 2011’s election..

But it became apparent between 2011 and 2016 that his push to transform the city through the new KCCA also made him unpopular with informal workers. Many found themselves at the sharp end of “clean-up operations” on the city’s streets.

Be that as it may, the president will claim a large margin of victory after all three-quarters of Uganda’s population still live in rural areas which are widely dominated by him.

The president must not ignore the urban opposition which will soon pose an extreme opposition trajectory and soon the balance of his votes will shift away from him.

Tonny Tumukunde is the founding partner at M/s Tumukunde & Co. Advocates.


Reader's Comments