State Redemption: Could the National Dialogue be the Gateway for the Common Man’s Voice as MPs Slumber away?

Uganda's sleeping members of Parliament (Courtesy photo)

Opinion: It isn’t so often that the general public gets to have a direct say regarding the affairs of the nation. Usually, the public is represented by a sector of the government called the legislature. As such, the people’s views are often misrepresented!

The IRCU and TEFU (the institutions that regarding the National Dialogue Process. The National Dialogue is, as a simple mind would comprehend it, an amicable discussion among the many sects of Uganda’s society.

The other two words that come to mind are a National Parliament. The process will bring together all kinds of citizens ranging from the youth to the wealthiest elderlies in the economy. It will be backed by government, political parties, religious sectors, business institutions and many others. It will therefore indulge all Ugandans irrespective of social status.

The project doesn’t dwell on the successful people’s ideas to the poor and mid-income earners. It isn’t about politicians addressing the public. The National Dialogue is about Ugandans pitching ideas on how to go about the issues that are holding back our development.

For a long time, the least fortunate of the Ugandan society have been under-looked. Much as every Ugandan has been involved in the national affairs through democratic policies such as elections, not all have been fully represented by their chosen representatives at Parliament.

The number of Members of Parliament has always been on the rise yet very little of the common man’s problems have been solved. The parliament, as I have grown to see it, is filled with men and women who do little or nothing to satisfy the needs of those that voted them into office.

That vacuum of proper representation makes this the opportune moment for this kind of project. Through the National Dialogue, the public will be able to vent its ideas and requirements for unified development.

Over the years, MPs have held parliamentary discussions which for some reason haven’t been so efficient. The current argument about the removal of the age limit is one to show that the MPs rarely visit their constituencies! Either the public didn’t demand for a constitutional reform or it did but the media didn’t cover it. I believe many will agree with me that the former is more likely than the latter.

What is often seen, heard and read in the news is locals unhappy about poor drainage systems, drought, unemployment, underdeveloped infrastructure and so much more that doesn’t require the removal of the age limit as a solution. This stands to show that the common man is neither heard nor considered.

Therefore the IRCU and TEFU, which are running the National Assembly process, have impeccable timing! They have come in at a time when Ugandans need to speak and be heard. The tax-payers’ grievances will be crystal clear without the ‘parliamentary representatives’ meddling with the message.

Aside from an open voice for the common man, the National Dialogue is expected to achieve political settlement among the power holders, a shared vision for all Ugandans as well as an active and informed society that can hold leaders accountable. Ugandans should anticipate a better economy and investment culture, improved ethics and values and a sustained dialogue mechanism to solve social problems.

The National Dialogue Process is expected to be finalized in June 2018, when the National Conference will be held to achieve implementation of the policies agreed upon during the process. Although the Process isn’t a replacement for the parliament, in my opinion, it can be seen as the better and more efficient version of it!

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Kenneth is currently a Mass Communication student at St Lawrence University. He holds a certificate in History and Literature. He is a social political critique, good creative writer and a poet.