Diaspora as a word has so much History attached to it, some of which is sensitive. The birth of the word was the time when the Jews were dispersed from Israel. In the modern-day language, it means separation from one’s birth home. Precisely, there are millions of Ugandans in diaspora. How important then is it that they vote without returning home?
In their favor, the Ugandans in diaspora contribute an awesome lot ($1 bn) to the GDP of the country. It is only logical that they should be able to participate in deciding who makes the policies for the country in which they invest. The constitution allows it. Any Ugandan citizen can vote for the President even when they return from abroad. Quite practical! However, like everything else, these foreigners want more; because they pay for it.
The UNAA president Monday Atigo says that Ugandans abroad want a parliamentary representative as well as an article in the constitution that allows them to vote without coming home. A representative in parliament is a good suggestion however, having to adjust the constitution just so a Ugandan can vote from abroad is a bit of a stretch. Besides, that kind of policy puts the security of electoral polls at risk. Anyone can manipulate such results. That kind of policy allows so many Ugandans to stay abroad permanently and others to join in – talk of brain drain.
If some individual feels so attached to something, going miles for it isn’t so hard. Just because the United States and European countries loan us money, doesn’t mean we should get them a representative. In the same way, their big contribution to the GDP shouldn’t make their desires the country’s policies.
The last thing a country should do is to give people the power to decide without being present. If the Ugandans in diaspora are so desperate to vote, they should have the courtesy to fly home from wherever they’ve moved and make a decision that affects the country. It only requires commitment; what better way to be patriotic?
However, in all fairness, they do need a Parliament Representative. It’s not a contradiction. The point is, it is too much to ask of a nation to adjust the constitution for their own sake. Whether the Ugandans abroad fly home or not, it doesn’t affect the country much. It is better for the president to be chosen from within the country rather than by people outside it. It is that simple.