February 2013
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Day February 8, 2013


Thursday 7 Feb 2013

With due respect, Prof Kanyeihamba’s article “Kadaga erred in refusing to recall Parliament” published in The Monitor of 3 February, 2013, is as naïve as the reference to Speaker Wapakhabulo’s 1998 ruling on withdrawal of signatures for petitions submitted to the Speaker. For such bold rulings, Wapa’s popularity soared through the roof, ending his Speakership!

To her credit Kadaga attempted a spirited resistance against the President’s position on the recall of parliament, and like Wapa, naively assumed that Parliamentary Rules of Procedure were all the ammunition she needed! Like Wapa, her popularity hit the roof, but her “real” Speakership is in serious balance!

I have argued in many fora that Uganda’s problem is not Museveni per se, but the influence he wields arising out of a Constitution that was deliberately designed to enable him win political battles (of importance to him), and after a protracted twenty years’ struggle to become President of Uganda, Museveni knew the exact kind of Constitution he needed to be President for a long time. The general view that the “Odoki Commission” is responsible for the Constitution of Uganda, is another naivety!

Uganda’s Constitution fuses Govt and the State, trapping both under the President’s patronage, by making him appoint holders of all decision-making positions in this country, the result of which, 20% of Parliament (10 soldiers and 70 Ministers) are directly appointed by the President, while common sense tells the rest to keep off the collision path with him because he holds the key to life after Parliament. This is not farfetched considering that the President appointed all NRM politicians who lost in the Party Primaries and National Elections to the numerous Govt and State offices at his disposal. That gives him the necessary clout to influence public officials. Moreover, it makes his own job is secure, since he appoints the Electoral Commissioners, top Judicial and finance officials, as well as top police and army officials.

Kadaga, on the other hand was armed with just the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure and 10 vocal MPs!

We need to wake up to the fact that what made Wapakhabulo resign as Speaker of Parliament to take up the considerably lowly position of NPC, is what made Ssekandi play ball as Speaker, and is what influenced Kadagas decision not to recall parliament – the formidable clout of the President, largely bestowed on him by the Constitution of Uganda.

Because the President appoints, at his discretion, officials in charge of all State institutions, he necessarily has immense influence on the institutions. It is in the interest of each institutional leadership in this country to perpetuate Museveni’s reign because by so doing, they guarantee their own perpetuity!

Key democracy and accountability institutions like the judiciary, parliament, police, Electoral Commission, IGG, Auditor General, DPP and the Human Rights’ Commission should never be put in a position where they owe favours. But Uganda’s Constitution does just that by having them appointed by the President, at his discretion!

In order for those institutions to function independently, a condusive environment must be provided for them, like advertising the top jobs and filling them through an open, competitive process, so that they do not owe their jobs to anybody.

Kenya achieved this through the 2010 national referendum that led to a constitutional amendment that requires the offices of Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice, Judges, Electoral Commission and Inspector General of Police to be advertised and filled through an open competitive process. Uganda must do the same.

Beti Kamya-Turwomwe

Chief Petitioner for a National Referendum to trim the Powers of the President

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