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Why Uganda should not abandon Presidential direct election

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Added 20th February 2019 11:14 AM

According to Odoki Report (1992), Ugandans had grown weary of complicated indirect elections, under a Westminster parliamentary system that are subject to manipulation and alienate leaders from the people.

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According to Odoki Report (1992), Ugandans had grown weary of complicated indirect elections, under a Westminster parliamentary system that are subject to manipulation and alienate leaders from the people.

By Haji Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi
President Yoweri Museveni in his capacity as National Chairperson of NRM, has called its Central Executive Committee for a retreat at Chope Lodge, Murchison Falls from today to February 20 to consider, inter alia, constitutional amendments. I humbly make this submission for the good of the country and the movement.
When young Libyan Free Officers seised power on Al Fateh/1st September 1969 and declared a revolution, under Col. Muammar El Qadaffi, they abolished a monarchy that had been imposed on the Libyans by Britain which oversaw Libya on behalf of UN, after its colonial power, fascist Italy under Benito Mussolini had been defeated by the Western allies.
It was wrong for a prince from the former pre-colonial khalifate of Cyrenaica now Benghazi to become a king of the whole of Libya including Tripolitania and Fez. So like other modern states, revolutionary Libya became a republic (jamhouriya).
However, in 1977, it went further to become a state of the masses (jamahariya) where there was no president or parliament but people led themselves under popular congresses and people's committees.
However, by the end of the first decade of the 21st century, Libya was retreating to a monarchy when the dear brother was crowned king of kings, lord of lords and mayor of mayors by African traditional leaders that were present in their conference in Libya in 2008, except the Kabaka of Buganda who was represented by Prince Kassim Nakibinge Kakungulu, who left immediately he smelt a rat and the then Katikkiro, Eng. John Baptist  Walusimbi, who remained, could not sign because he was not the Kabaka's personal representative.
Likewise, for Uganda which has successfully exercised universal adulthood presidential, parliamentary and local government direct elections ever since the promulgation of 1995 constitution, to turn into a Westminster parliamentary system where parliament acts as an electoral college and elects a president, will be reverse gear in attempt to remove the legacy of National Resistance Movement/National Resistance Army now Uganda People’s Defence Force as a result of its five year protracted people’s war in the bushes of Luwero Triangle from 1981 to 1986.
While promulgating 1995 constitution on Sunday October 8th 1995, President Museveni said, that people’s sovereignty that had been seized by Obote when he abrogated 1962 Independence Constitution, during 1966 Crisis, had been restored.
Indeed it was restored, because in 1996, 2001,2006,2011 and 2016, Uganda have been electing their leaders including president, Parliament and Local Government Councils and 2021 elections are on schedule according to Independent Electoral Commission’s road map launched by Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda recently.
According to Odoki Report (1992), Ugandans had grown weary of complicated indirect elections, under a Westminster parliamentary system that are subject to manipulation and alienate leaders from the people.
According to 1962 and 1967 constitutions, people stopped at only electing MPs and the party with majority seats in parliament could form government. In 1980, despite the rigging, DP won the popular vote, but UPC won more constituencies and Obote was declared President and formed government.
Below is a table showing final results of 1980 elections. DP won the popular vote with 1,966,244 votes which was 47.1 percent and UPC had
1,963,679 votes which was also 47.1 percent. UPM got 171,785 votes which was 4.1 percent, and CP had 70,181 votes which was 1.6 percent.
But UPC, because of manipulation, won 75 seats out of 126 and formed Obote ll Government. In  real democracy, neither DP nor UPC would have formed government without seeking alliance from UPM and CP or at worst, the 1980-1985 would have been a coalition government of the two major parties, with a President coming from DP which had more votes and a Vice President and Defence Minister coming from UPC.
Party     Votes    %            Seats     +/–
Democratic Party
1,966,244             47.1        50           +26
Uganda People's Congress
1,963,679             47.1        75           +38
Uganda Patriotic Movement
171,785 4.1          1              New
Conservative Party
70,181   1.6          0              New
Invalid/blank votes         2,419     –             –             –
Total      4,174,328             100         126         +44
Registered voters/turnout          4,898,117             85.2        –             –
Source: Wikipedia
Even the American elections have a problem and in 2000, George Bush Jr and Al Gore could not agree in Florida with results of electronic voting and when it was suggested that the ballot papers should be physically counted, the retired Secretary of State James Baker was overwhelmingly opposed to that saying that it was against the USA constitution.
The stalemate was solved when Al Gore was persuaded to concede defeat. Last time Mrs. Hilary Clinton won popular vote and Ronald Trump won Electoral College and the latter was declared winner and you don’t call that sham democracy!
The legacy of NRM is characterised with ushering in peace and security not only in the country but in the region, and restoration of people’s sovereignty as enshrined in Article One of the Constitution which stipulates that power belongs to the people. Under a Westminster system like UK, parliament is sovereign.
Then in absolute monarchies like Swaziland and Saudi Arabia, kings are sovereign. In theocratic states like Islamic Republic of Iran, God is sovereign.
But in the case of Uganda, it is the people that are sovereign at least during election of president, parliament and local government councils, and no individual or group of a few individuals should never attempt to temper with it.
Challenges of NRM Government are not becoming unpopular with the populace but corruption by Central and Local Government technocrats (politicians are not accounting officers and some local governments are under Opposition) sometimes with impunity, which result in poor service delivery. What NRM should do, is zero tolerance to corruption, cadre identification and placement especially in strategic areas, and improve on service delivery.
The writer is a communications assistant at the Government Citizen Interaction Center (GCIC) of the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance and regional coordinator for Central Region

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