I fear that parliament is sacrificing the tenets of democratic governance at the Altar of fighting corruption – yet corruption is just a consequence, NOT the cause of undemocratic governance.
Democratic governance entails (i) independence of the three arms of government (ii) free and fair elections (iii) a knowledgeable and informed electorate (iv) head of state is elected based on his / her manifesto (v) head of state is mandated to pick own cabinet that will best deliver manifesto (vi) parliament’s PRIMARY role is to make laws for peace, order, development and good governance (vii) judiciary administers laws (viii) citizens pay taxes to enable arms of Govt to function (ix) performance appraisal is done by voters through regular elections.
These principles of democratic governance are what the Constitution of Uganda should aim to deliver, but is it designed for the job?
Can the judiciary and parliament claim independence when the Chief Justice, judges and 20% of parliament are appointed by the President, while the rest struggle for his attention? Can there be fair elections and respect for human rights when electoral commissioners, army, police and prisons’ chiefs are appointed by the President? Who can stop the President taking liberties with the treasury when (s)he appoints the Minister of Finance, Commissioners of URA, Governor of Bank of Uganda and Secretary to the Treasury?
All senior public jobs are awarded by the president i.e. Vice President, Prime Minister, Ministers, Chief Justice, Judges, Ambassadors, army, police and prisons heads, permanent secretaries, chief administrative officers, RDCs, presidential advisors, heads of service commissions i.e. Judicial, Health, Education, Public, Electoral, Human Rights, Law Reform & Local Government Finance Commissions, Boards of Authorities & public corporations i.e. National Planning, National Environmental Management, Uganda Wildlife, Uganda Forestry, Uganda Investment, Uganda Coffee Development, Uganda Cotton, Uganda Electricity Regulatory, National Drugs, KCCA, Oil Regulatory, National Agricultural Research Organization, National Water and Sewerage Corporation, National Enterprise Corporation, Diary Development Corporation, Uganda National Roads’ Authority, Auditor General, Inspector General of Government, Attorney General, Solicitor General.
The president is also empowered by the constitution to create and fill public offices at will!
The president is the sole employer, boss of the armed forces, manages the National Treasury, has prerogative of mercy, and cannot be charged in Court.
What other ingredients does one need to create patronage and dictatorship?
Uganda’s constitution creates dictators. Dictators are arrogant, work for self preservation and believe in own invincibility, the outcome of which are human rights’ abuse, patronage, corruption and electoral malpractices. Like maggots and flies are consequences of rot emanating from a compost heap, these vices are consequences, NOT the cause of dictatorship! Until we deal with the constitution, dictatorship is here to stay, no matter who occupies State House.
Parliament should concentrate on its primary role of enacting a laws for the good governance of Uganda, instead of being the CID, police, Interpol, court, prison, civil society activists, celebs, the executive – demolishing illegal buildings, (dis)appointing ministers, receiving petitions, globe-trotting investigators, fighting over the budget and manifesto with the executive, who should have voters’ mandate to implement their manifesto!
80% of Uganda’s constitution heaps authority on the presidency, creating fertile ground for dictatorship. Instead of fighting a well-fed lion, Parliament should repeal provisions that promote dictatorship or undermine power separation and enact those that would protect institutions from undue influence!
Kenya achieved this through the 2010 referendum. Henceforth, the Chief Justice, Electoral Commissioners, Inspector General of Police, Central Bank Governor and all public officials except Cabinet, apply for jobs when advertised and submit to an open, competitive process.
UFA is pushing for a referendum to change Uganda’s system from the over-centralized, to the Kenya-like, power devolving system. The official launch of this program is Monday 17 December, 2012, in Lira Municipality. All are welcome.
Beti Olive Kamya-Turwomwe
Uganda Federal Alliance (UFA)
0783 438 201 / email: firstname.lastname@example.org