The 9th Parliament must be congratulated for fighting corruption.
My concern, though, is that they are shooting at consequences of Uganda’s problem rather than its cause. Corruption, human rights abuse, electoral malpractices, Mbabazi, Basajjabalaba are consequences, NOT the cause of autocratic rule, therefore, fighting them offers temporary relief, not cure.
Imagine a garbage heap where waste from an abattoir are dumped. Maggots, a consequence of rotting waste will attract marabou stock (kaloli) and flies. Neighboring residents might chase away the marabou stock with stones and spray the flies, but since they come searching for maggots, they will keep coming back as long as the abattoir functions. A permanent solution would lie in investing in an effluent system which treats waste, at the abattoir – expensive the investment might be, but it’s the only way through which maggots that attract marabou stock and flies can be stopped.
Similarly, if termites threaten to destroy a nearby structure, harvesting edible ants flying out of their anthill will not save the structure. The anthill must be demolished and Queen Ant removed, else, the termites will never go away. There is no easy way out of a huge problem. Parliament should fight the termites and marabou stock (read corruption and human rights’ abuse) but more importantly, they must go for the root CAUSE of problem – the queen ant or the abattoir (read the constitution or the system).
The cause of Uganda’s problem is her Constitution, which makes the president Head of State, Head of Govt and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. S(he) appoints the vice president, prime minister, chief justice, ministers, heads of statutory bodies, judges, commissioners, RDCs, Presidential advisors, vice chancellors, CAOs, ambassadors and permanent secretaries. S(he) apportions the budget at his/her discretion. In Uganda, the president is the sole employer, provider and benefactor, in short, displease him at your peril, yet, while holding office, s(he) is not liable to court proceedings!
There is a feeble attempt by the constitution to give parliament an oversight role but that can fall flat in the face of the president’s immense influence, if /when s(he) chooses to use it!
In the 1962 Constitution, Obote was Head of Govt, while Mutesa was Head of State and Commander-in-Chief. In the UK, the Prime Minister is Head of Govt while the Monarch is Head of State, Commander-in-Chief and Head of the House of Lords. In the USA, the vice president is elected alongside the president as Running Mate, therefore, cannot be fired by the president, plus the president has little influence on what happens in the States, that being the jurisdiction of Governors. In Kenya, the Chief Justice, judges and electoral commissioners apply for their jobs to an independent commission, power has largely been devolved to 47 Counties and the central govt budget has been cut to 20%. Only in Uganda does the President appoint everybody. Ugandan presidents beat up anybody who tries to grab power from them and rig elections to keep it because there is only one power center. Patronage and corruption flourish under Uganda’s presidents because cohorts, sycophants and job seekers surround and cheer them.
Ugandans are so engrossed in fighting corruption and human rights’ abuse, ignoring that those are just consequences, NOT the cause of autocratic rule, a consequence of the immense power vested in the presidency by the constitution.
Article 74 of the constitution of Uganda empowers citizens to change political systems through referenda. During 2012, UFA will mobilize Ugandans to evoke Article 74 and petition the Electoral Commission to organize a referendum, in 2015, to vote out the current political system that overloads the president with power, and vote in an equitable system that reduces those powers.
Beti Olive Namisango Kamya
PRESIDENT, UGANDA FEDERAL ALLIANCE