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President should not look at Parliament as NRM organ

By Vision Reporter

Added 11th August 2008 03:00 AM

SOME say the National Resistance Movement (NRM) MPs who called for the special session of Parliament to discuss the arrest of Mengo officials are undisciplined. But the sitting was a matter of the entire Parliament, not the NRM party.

By Theodore Ssekikuubo

SOME say the National Resistance Movement (NRM) MPs who called for the special session of Parliament to discuss the arrest of Mengo officials are undisciplined. But the sitting was a matter of the entire Parliament, not the NRM party.

The essence was not to determine whether the arrested Mengo officials were guilty or innocent; it was meant to be a platform where the Government could explain to the country.

The special session was a sitting of the whole House. The NRM constitutes part of the House. The special session was not sanctioned by the NRM caucus or organs and there was nothing wrong with that. It is not the duty of the NRM to decide whether Parliament should sit or not.

There is a tendency to think that the NRM as a party is equivalent to Uganda and that the NRM caucus is equivalent to Parliament. This is not proper. I respect President Yoweri Museveni, the chairman of the National Resistance Movement (NRM).

However, he has to divorce himself from looking at the entire Parliament as essentially a party organ. We need to be disciplined as members of the NRM. The chairman needs to put to task not only the so-called undisciplined members but also those who are behind such embarrassing scenarios.

Calling the special sitting of Parliament was a dilemma; either you act or you look on the side and the challenge is capitalised on by the opposition, whereby you are portrayed as an insensitive group in Parliament. I do not know how often members must see the truth and shun it; how often they must see things that are running down the party and keep quiet only to come back later and lament.

I am seeking an opportunity to put my side of the case with the President. I may not agree that when you come up with a different position it is indiscipline. We must avoid a situation where members first wait to see where the wind is blowing before volunteering to say this should be the direction. Members are becoming wiser. A caucus should not stifle open methods of work.

But some keep quiet. They do not want to bring any contrary opinion to the caucus. Once we turn into yes people then we shall miss the point. The essence of caucusing is to sieve out issues and to brainstorm because we do not have study groups. I am happy the President is coming up with a study group and I look forward to it because members will be able to come out with particular opinions. I would strongly advise the President to reconsider the approach of threatening to expel members who are said to be undisciplined.

It would not be the first time a party is expelling its own. In the 1960s, the Kakonges were expelled from the Uganda Peoples’ Congress. The President should rather consider the issues that bring about disenchantment. He says he will fight MPs like Joseph Kony. But you cannot compare members to Kony. I was disturbed by that statement. I request him to sort out these pertinent issues in a candid manner.

There are Cabinet ministers and security officers who have taken the President for granted. Before he raises a sledge hammer on members who are dissenting, he should hold them against errant officials. We do not enjoy being castigated by our party president. The briefings to the President that ‘everything is okay’ and ‘we are in charge’ are wrong. Others were in charge of this country but where are they now?

People hide their personal aggrandisement behind the party. There are cases where one tells the party that something is wrong, for instance about the Rift Valley Railways (RVR) and they are castigated.

The President comes to the caucus to justify a bogus investment. Ministers have been unfair to the President. They brief him even on bogus issues and he comes out to defend them and that puts us at loggerheads with him. The whole caucus of the NRM voted to evict students and give away Shimoni school land.

The few voices that dissented were castigated. But what are the results? You raise your hand and sometimes he talks harshly yet you only wish for the best. You are ridiculed and told how shortsighted you are. A few months down the road, RVR is bankrupt. The President is annoyed because they lied to him. Once we do things correctly you will never hear from us.

In 1971, the Buganda region welcomed Idi Amin. The Baganda said his fingers and hands were royal, that he was like a prince. There was much euphoria here.

But President Museveni then saw that Amin was not somebody to work with. Despite the euphoria, he chose to fight Amin. He was then almost a lone voice opposing Amin. Now why should he expect us to clap when we see ministers taking us back to those dark days?

The writer is the Rwemiyaga MP (NRM)
As told to John Odyek

President should not look at Parliament as NRM organ

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