While presenting a paper on the subject matter, on Wednesday, a Makerere University Law don, Dr. Kabumba Busingye said Uganda’s Journey to democracy has been a problematic one saying that many critical issues still need to be addressed
Members of the Public have highlighted the need by Parliament to champion the cause for deepening democracy in the country.
The call was made during the Civil Society debate as one of the events to mark the 4th Annual Parliament Week that is observed under the theme; “Parliament: Building a strong democracy in Uganda”.
While presenting a paper on the subject matter, on Wednesday, a Makerere University Law don, Dr. Kabumba Busingye said Uganda’s Journey to democracy has been a problematic one saying that many critical issues still need to be addressed.
“A lot of challenges included the problematic Constitution that was amended at very critical junctures, in 2005 and 2017 to deprive it of major safeguards,” said Busigye.
Busingye said: The judiciary that has been deeply subdued over the years and Parliament itself which faces severe bottlenecks.”
Businge noted that there are many factors that meditate against robust and thriving democracy.
He observed Parliament has played its role for the nation however it is the executive sometimes that undermines the Parliament roles.
“Parliament has roles such as committee proceedings, receiving petitions, making resolutions pertinent policies on social services such as health, education, energy , transport among others,” explained Busingye.
“Parliament has tried to play their role in passing bills, appropriating funds but the major bottlenecks still rest at critical junctures were this 10th Parliament in particular should have preserved the last remaining safeguards to the Constitution which was the Age limit and they didn’t,” Busingye added.
The debate which was presided over by the Committee Chairperson of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Jacob Oboth who was representing the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga was held under the theme; “Parliament’s Role in Uganda’s Democratization Journey”.
“We have to reason and debate issues of democracy together and reflect on participatory partnerships in Uganda and also concentrate on building a broad democracy in Uganda,” explained Oboth.
Oboth said the debate isn't about trading blame, accusations or pointing fingers.
Criticism must be constructive to lead to broader understanding of Parliament's role.
Last Monday Kadaga while launching the Parliament week said the annual Parliament Week allows the public to access parliamentary chambers, obtain necessary information and interact with MPs about the affairs of their constituencies, the public will also participate in a plenary sitting where they will debate issues of concern, which the House will consider.
George William Mpande a resident of Buwama Mpigi district faulted both parliament and Government for not involving the People at the grassroots in the decision making which affects democracy.
“We are always ignored in debates that matter; the local chairperson said the lower grass roots are only limited to welcoming guests in the area, no time is give to us to air-out our issues; people should always be left to openly contribute on matters in their locality without being segregated by organisers,” Mpande said.
Rev. Daniel Token Wejuli from the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda said there is need for every Ugandan to advocate for National Dialogue if genuine democracy is to prevail in the country.
“The National dialogue should not only be among political players in the country but should involve every stakeholder. The dialogue should encompass, environment, natural resources, oil and gas, taxation and welfare of all Ugandans,” Wejuli said.
Irene Ikomu a Ugandan lawyer said;”The political class world over is getting low rating, the perception from the public out there is that politicians are selfish and consider increasing their emoluments.”
“The legislature needs to involve the voices and issues of the local people when Bills are being made or legislated on. Parliament needs to give Ugandans opportunity to contribute to debate, submit topics and access parliamentary resources also the public should be able to give feedback on bills or legislation before committees.”Ikomo said.
Oboth said: "I chair the committee on legal which also considers Parliament's budget, it is not that true that every time we sit we increase emoluments, but we cannot win this debate anymore because this is the public perception"