As a student of the Constitution of Uganda (hereafter to be called The Constitution) and believer in organized (multiparty) as opposed to disorganised (individual merit) politics, I am provoked to respond to Prof Oloka Onyango’s opinion titled “NRM Wrong on Speaker” published in The New Vision of 8 May, 2013.
Quoting the Constitution extensively, Prof Onyango defends Speaker Kadaga’s ruling on the (no)relationship between MPs and political parties that sponsor them, once in Parliament. In my view, his powerful arguments sound like a skilled defense lawyer’s, than an academic analyzing the Constitution.
Article 1 of the Constitution says “All power belongs to the people who shall exercise their sovereignty in accordance with this Constitution”. Article 1(4) mandates the people to exercise their will on HOW they wish to be governed through referenda, hence, there is only one way in which the people can express their will on HOW they wish to be governed, i.e. through referenda.
Through the 2005 referendum, the people chose to be governed under the multiparty system, making multiparty democracy the apex principle of governance in Uganda, anything less being contemptuous of the people’s will.
In a multiparty system, people who subscribe to political parties are bound by the respective parties’ constitutions and rules, duly registered under appropriate laws. Those who do not wish to be regulated by parties do not join them, and seek election as independents. One cannot be sponsored by a party, then once in parliament, claim the benefits of independents, because you cannot eat your cake and have it.
It was in cognizant of this that Article 83(3) provides for recall of MPs by the electorate only during the Movement System where MPs get elected on individual merit, with accountability only to the electorate, so the electorate regulates them directly. It is in the same spirit that Article 83(g) requires an MP who “leaves the political party for which s(he) stood as a candidate to vacate the seat….” and seek fresh mandate because the electorate would have elected the MP knowing her / his political ideology, party manifesto and team-mates.
When the MP “leaves” her/his party, regardless of the exit method, the electorate are left with no clear knowledge of whom they are dealing with.
Article 83(g) is an entitlement of the electorate for the MP to redefine her/himself so that they know who they are dealing with. It is also a source of accountability to the electorate, who should not be taken for granted, because they know exactly whom they originally sent to Parliament. The much acclaimed “speaking for the people” by the rebel MPs is a fallacy because the people decided through the 2005 referendum that anybody wishing to speak for them must do so under the multiparty system, and under Article 255(3), “…. the results (of the referendum) shall be binding on all organs (including parliament) and agencies of the State, and on all persons (including the Speaker) and organizations in Uganda”.
Once the People speak (through referenda), their will must be reflected through laws, practices and policies that govern organs, organizations and individuals. The challenge at hand is to strengthen internal party democracy in order to derive inhouse consensus, instead of destroying multipartism when MPs fight their parties under the patronage of parliament.
I find it hard to concur with Prof Onyango (and Speaker Kadaga’s) insinuation that the Constitution of Uganda feigns ignorance of political parties’ interests in Parliament and the need to protect them or deems them irrelevant and inconsequential, in a multiparty dispensation.
Uganda Federal Alliance
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