Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) was the brain child of Dr. Apollo Milton Obote; the first Prime Minister and Ugandan tyrant. UPC was born to counter the then prominent Democratic Party (DP). The former allied with Kabaka Yekka (KY) against DP to win the majority seats in Parliament. This nostalgia is instigated by the fact that since 1986, country Uganda has not seen any other government. Vigorous political elegance was swallowed by a noisy monotony. Despite the hype, I have no hope for change of government in my time.
However, this isn’t pessimistic resignation. It is the lack of tactic and strategy from the current opposition that’s exasperating. The same old idea that changing the person of the president means better governance suffocates political growth. Although the change may happen, it may not necessarily be for the better. The reason for this is that the current system is designed to operate under a president like Museveni.
Truly, if Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu were to become the president in 2021, he would be unable to lead the country to the anticipated liberty. My reason for this belief is that the system will operate against him.
The Honourable’s philosophy is that of ‘power to the people’. A country where the people decide what should be done, who should do it and how it should be done. A kind of government that was envisaged by the framers of the 1995 Constitution. Yet, this is not the case! The same Constitution failed to achieve a government of the people. In spite of article 1, the President is given so much authority over administrative issues by various statutes. Oddly enough, these do not contradict article 1.
The executive is intertwined with the legislature so much that the former would influence the latter even without the blatant abuse of office. Thus, although the people still choose, they don’t have much influence over what their choices do once elected. Therefore, the Honourable’s philosophy would fail to operate efficiently! Mark you, I have neglected to mention the realm of the mafias who have boiled national integrity to a pulp.
The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has had a strong presence on the political scene since 2001. Its flag bearer, Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye, has failed with the same idea as that of the Honourable today.
On the other hand, Mugisha Muntu had a different approach when he was still part of the FDC. Whether or not he still has the same belief today is uncertain. His view was to structure a party with an indestructible base. Achieving this would require the FDC to take a step back from pointless political ranting. The colonel could not have this. His methods had a tinge of a personal struggle. Perhaps the reason for FDC’s operation under his shadow.
Recently, UPC announced that it would not be fronting a presidential candidate. The reason is an intriguing tactical one. The party president stated that UPC should use its resources on parliamentary campaigns. In a nutshell, a parliamentary campaign is a better seed to sow than a presidential campaign. Although he did not say so, the UPC party president seems to understand this.
It is a reflection of the idea that unseating the incumbent doesn’t give us the desirable change. Truly, unseating Y.K. Museveni is not feasible. When we had the opportunity to curb his unending term of service, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) had the majority in parliament. Without much of a bout, article 102(b) was repealed! Yet, we still fail to see where the power lies.
Due to the receding quality of parliament, the country tends to think that the same is powerless. Surely, the parliament is arguably the most powerful branch of government. This is arguable because of the courts’ inadvertent creation of law through determining what it is. The same can nullify a decision and or action of any of the other two arms.
However, the parliament has the authority under article 107 to remove a president from office. Some of the reasons required by this article are incredibly vague; enough to put a president on his or her toes. Nonetheless, the possibility of a majority NRM parliament utilising this article is inexistent. This brings me to the argument that for us to take back power, we need not focus on the office of the president.
With a competent parliament, Uganda can rid itself of the fungus it has failed to shake. If the opposition would sober up and take back power through parliament, it would not matter that Museveni is the president. When there is great uncertainty over which way the parliament may vote about an issue, we would say the plane is even.
The current parliament is capable of repealing article 107; the only remaining constitutional element that can check the president’s power. The opposition should focus on unseating NRM members of parliament. As such, the likes of NUP, FDC, UPC and DP should not be lured into the trap of reaching the stars when they lack the fuel to escape the earth’s gravity.
Those parties should utilise their resources to build a support base at the local levels. They should attack the enemy on various fronts over the country. This way, they can achieve a numerical advantage in parliament whilst gaining momentum with the citizenry. They would have the power to veto oppressive policies. They would be able to pass the kind of laws that tip the odds in their favour. Even the requirement of the president’s signature to pass a bill into law is escapable. The opposition would have perfect control of government as NRM does now.
Without this numerical advantage, the President can appoint partisan people into neutral offices. The ruling party can campaign without encumbrance because there are no consequences. The house that has to check the executive is run by the same. How then do we expect any good governance?
If the Honourable were to become President in 2021, he would face the challenges that Museveni would face if the August House had a majority opposition. With the NRM having the two thirds in parliament, the honourable would be cornered into doing as the NRM pleases. The party would still push its agendas through without much restraint. The cabinet would be chosen as the party pleases. The only reason we cannot see this is because the executive and the parliament have been yellow since before our first democratic elections in 1996. The incumbent has successfully blinded us; making parliament a useless bunch.
As such, we need to look towards restructuring government to function as it was envisaged in 1995. This power can be found in the parliamentary chambers; not the office of the president. Truly, this office is only as strong as the legislature allows. The same has the power to reinstate the term limit and age limit clauses into the Constitution. It can repeal oppressive statutes and enact popular ones. It has the power of cleaning the partisan police. It has the ability to ensure that the judiciary is composed of neutral competent personnel. The parliament, dear readers, is the organ with all the power; not the office of the president. Y.K. Museveni is well aware of this and does all that he can to protect his advantage in the legislature. It is said that when a magician asks you to look left, focus on the right! The more we focus on presidential elections, the more power we give the ruling party.
Although participating in a presidential campaign is good for mobilising support, the opposition shouldn’t make humungous investments into it. We know the story well; the State House shall be occupied by the same in 2021. Nonetheless, even if an opposition candidate were to win, he or she would not effect change. The majority party in parliament will work against him or her. Therefore, Akena sees the light. The power is in the August House. As long as the NRM has a ludicrous advantage over the opposition, NRM will be the ruling party.
The true Ugandans should seek to restructure government to undo the entrenchment that has happened. The problems of this African pearl lie beyond the person of the president. A free and balanced parliament translates into a fair and just government. This, dear reader, is our way to political freedom.
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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