Following Uganda’s 2005 multiparty transition, observers expected the country’s legislature – an unusually assertive body by regional standards – to lose its bite, muzzled due to newly re-instated party disciplinary measures. This article explains why – contrary to these expectations – executive-legislative tensions persist and, more fundamentally, what this tells us about the nature of one-party and executive dominance in Uganda. Inspired by a comparative politics literature on parties as well as an older generation of Africanist scholarship, the analysis centres on the nexus linking political finance, party-building and legislative independence. The article argues that the legacy of Uganda’s ‘no-party’ Movement system endures, perpetuated through the highly personalized and contentious nature of electoral mobilization. By failing to recentralize control of campaign finance, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) leadership has left parliamentary candidates largely to their own devices while undermining its own nascent efforts to ensure greater party institutionalization. The consequence of this failure to institutionalize the ruling party plays out in a more assertive legislature, where NRM MPs – who form the overwhelming majority – frequently rebel against the party line. Unable to enforce partisan discipline, Museveni is compelled to buy back legislators’ support through executive patronage. While he generally succeeds in subduing Parliament, especially towards the end of a legislative term, this success is by no means automatic. As such, the Ugandan legislature is best understood as an arena for intra-elite bargaining, its independence contingent on the push-and-pull between President Museveni and unruly NRM MPs.