Someone on Twitter – in a tweet that I can’t find right now – referred to the NUP Manifesto as being akin to a poorly written high school essay. The tweep in question isn’t a ruling party apparatchik or even sympathiser and so his opinion was quite telling.
I personally wouldn’t go as far as labelling it that. But I must admit that going through it was very frustrating for me. The reasons for this frustration were the fact that the document actually contains a number of good points but they are all mixed up with rather weak ones. The party presents 5 issues as the key focus areas:
- People-Centred Governance
- Equal Access to Quality Education and Health Services
- Inclusive Economic Development
- Land, Natural Resources & Environmental Protection
- National Security and International Relations
But although the subsequent content appears to follow that order as far as the finer points are concerned, it categorise the points per focus area. Then the formatting is atrocious with all the points presented as a continuous numbered list with continuous numbering through different chapters and points. The writers made little effort to format the point in a cohesive fashion – for example, explaining the issue and any shortcoming in the incumbent administration and then suggested solutions/action points. Instead, everything is simply a long list of points. The formatting reminded me of the kind of list I would compile as talking points for a talkshow, interview or presentation.
Finally, the few graphics present are poor quality and very insufficient as an antidote to the endless numbered list text. The very worst graphic is probably the graph on page 10 purporting to show the domestic general government health expenditure as a percentage of general government expenditure. Purporting because the image quality is so poor that one can’t make out the details.
It is probably obvious by now that I was disappointed by the NUP manifesto. It had so much potential and with a little bit more TLC, it might have been a compelling document. It simply doesn’t match the brand image of the NUP Flagbearer as a young, suave and thoroughly modern gentleman. Neither does it fit his current status as the leading opposition contender. I love reading but reading it was hard. Unlike the FDC’s, it doesn’t present the content in such a compelling fashion that you feel obliged to turn every page up to the end.
Those that know me know I have a soft spot for Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi primarily because he dared to stand up against a system that requires immense bravery to confront. I have seen the injustice meted out on him and I have never shied away from condemning it. I also acknowledge that getting a political party up and running in such a short time in the prevailing environment was an incredible feat and so we should really cut them some slack in matter like a manifesto. They can’t produce something as slick as the guys who’ve been in the game for decades. That is a reasonable argument. However, I also know that the NUP team has some seriously articulate members and I really think that a little bit more effort from them collectively would have resulted in a much better, more polished document. If anything, their Head of Policy has over the past few months consistently provided the best running commentary on the state of affairs in the country on social media in the form of facts/figures about the different districts the campaign visits. Just check her timeline! In addition – during the lockdown, I watched each of Hon. Kyagulanyi’s online concerts and I was always impressed by the high production values. I am therefore convinced they could have done better .
On the other hand, consider what I mentioned in the introductory Manifesto Review post: Very few Ugandans actually read these documents. It is therefore possible that they opted not to spend more resources on it than was strictly necessary. That would be reading their market well and I can’t blame them if that was the rationale. A well-written manifesto doesn’t seem to be a priority for most voters across the political and social spectrum. Still, it leaves the few readers like me who appreciate good writing disappointed.