We are all familiar with the adage; too many cooks spoil the broth! If not, acquaint yourself. The phrase has been in use for centuries having appeared in George Gascoigne’s The Life of P. Care in 1575. Perhaps the reason for it standing the test of time is the truth that lies in it.
We have witnessed the deterioration in the quality of policy in country Uganda. I, being a 90’s baby, am too young to attest to the nature of today’s government in contrast with that of yesteryears. I mean, there’s been the same person in State House since before I was born. Nevertheless, the likes of G.W. Kanyeihamba have done history justice with their publications. Thus, although I lack the empathy that’s shared by our elders, I’m well versed with the facts.
In 1994, the NRC Assembly was rejected for debating the brewing constitution. Having been favoured in 1986 to be the body to do the job, it had lost this favour by 1993. There were national calls for a body to be elected to execute this specific purpose; one that wasn’t politically corrupted.
The Presidential mannerisms had barely changed. The Chairman of the Constitutional Commission had been chosen in a manner reminiscent of the Amin era. Odoki (Chairman) admits that he got to know about his appointment over the radio. He was never consulted! In 1994, after it had been agreed that a Constituent Assembly (CA) would be elected, vestiges of a life ‘democratic’ president stunk everywhere.
The CA was composed of mostly NRM leaning members. Having suspended political parties’ activities, the NRM, masquerading as a broad-based organ, built base. The Electoral Commission was composed of members that were on Museveni’s humorous side. The chairperson and vice chairperson of the five CA committees were chosen from the Presidential nominees.
With every piece in place, the constitution was passed. It was beautiful! It was declared the most popular constitution of the time, if not of the century. The ecstasy masked a well-designed flaw. Too much executive power was given to the President. The man can overthrow a local government if he finds it apt. obviously, his power ought to be checked by a sober parliament.
The same parliament has over the years managed to constitutionally entrench the NRM and the person of Museveni. What’s to be expected of a parliament where the ruling party constitutes more than seventy percent of the total composition.
One may rightly point out that Parliament is a composition of individuals thought best suited to represent their voters. Hold that thought! The Ugandans in 1993 had enough fire in them to reject the NRM assembly. That Uganda, fresh from the embers of war, would not be bullied into submission.
They were well aware of their strengths, power and most importantly, they had fresh memories of the 80’s, 70’s and 60’s. They knew all too well what they wanted. Thus, whichever choice of representatives that Uganda chose was scrutinised by the constituents and competent.
Two decades down the lane, we have Members of Parliament that have never uttered a word. They only relish the dramas of the plenary. Some show up because of the Speaker’s warnings. These, dear reader, cannot lobby for development. They are in parliament, not because of their capabilities, but because Uganda became frustrated and rolled the dice. Unfortunately, that bad roll has killed the Parliament!
Dear reader, I should at this juncture inform you that there may be some light at the end of whatever this is. A few days back, Parliament approved the formulation of 47 new constituencies. Summarily, this means that the eleventh parliament shall be composed of over 500 members.
I believe that this is a situation of a half-full-half-empty glass; basing on your philosophical inclinations. The increment may usher into parliament a vital bunch that is capable of effecting actual change. I only jest! The chances of that happening are fewer than one being struck by lightning. Anyone that is familiar with the laws of entropy knows that we are headed for the gutters. For, politics and policy in this African Pearl has been let to take its natural course.
For starters, the burden on the national economy will rise. These MPs will be awarded a dish of allowances along side their big-bellied salaries. 47 more shall enjoy the fancy trips abroad for seminars that never seem to create any change in the country. 47 more shall be making the Airport corridors, as Museveni himself put it, their changing rooms. 47 more shall get all this from the people, whilst returning zilch. Absurd!
Secondly, the creation of these new seats stand to give NRM a boost in numbers. As it is, the number of NRM seats in Parliament surpasses that of the opposition. This more often than not translates into an imposition of the NRM agenda without much to oppose it. Also, well known is the fact that the NRM is guided by the ‘all knowing mind’ of Y.K. Museveni.
Recently, we witnessed the Parliament’s tail tucked between its legs, as cowardly dogs do. Having been dissatisfied with the way the top dog was running the nation, a motion of disappointment was passed by parliament. Of course, we’re no fools! This came after the President had left the legislators in the ditches regarding the UGX10bn saga. Thus, their discontent was more personal than national.
This was proved further by the fact that days later, Parliament passed a motion that starkly contradicted that of ‘disappointment’. The NRM legislators that had supported the first motion ran back to ‘Papa’ with apologies. This kind of Parliament isn’t the type that should expand.
I may say here that I understand the advantages of creating more administrative units. There was a time a friend and I were discussing governance. It dawned on us that Uganda has a beautiful political and administrative unit on paper. However, looking up from the paper exposes the dark reality.
Uganda doesn’t necessarily operate as it was engineered to. This country has a culture of blatantly disregarding procedure. It is managed like a chiefdom! Whereas the parliament is meant to check the executive, the judiciary is meant to ensure legal integrity and the executive should keep its nose out of the other two; we witnessed the SFC in Parliament during the age limit debates. The SFC personnel are strangers to the August House. It is unacceptable for them to manhandle the Honourable Members on the floor.
Yet, the court found no error with the amendment! Although the Act of itself did not breach the constitution, the procedure and consequences of the process did great damage to this constitutional democracy. Kenneth Kakuru was kind enough to point this out. Unfortunately, his was the dissenting judgment.
Summarily, we’ve seen that the branches of government, in all their might, are incompetent. The Parliament has gradually weakened itself while strengthening the executive over it. The judiciary is the strongest institution with the power to call on the executive and Parliament yet, it is the weakest organ of them all. We have witnessed a man set free cum re-arrested before exiting the Court compound!
Although government is ‘trying’ to ease administration and representation with its new creations, it has only increased taxpayer expenses. In the same measure, room for tolerance may drop as NRM is favoured by the additions.
DISCLAIMER: Any and all views expressed in the article are not those of The Investigator News. They are an expression of the author’s personal opinion. Usage, of any kind, of the information herein is at the user’s own risk. The Investigator News shall not be liable for any consequences arising from such usage.
- Joel Kenneth Ndawula is a Student of Law at Uganda Martyrs University Nkozi. He is an inspired writer, the editor and author here; a blogger of sorts.
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