TOP
Sunday,September 20,2020 21:24 PM
  • Home
  • Business
  • The debate about federalism and multipartism should be resolved

The debate about federalism and multipartism should be resolved

By Vision Reporter

Added 23rd October 2001 03:00 AM

THE Prime Minister, Prof. Apollo Nsibambi, speaking at the graduation ceremony of the Uganda Martyrs University Nkozi, October 18, called for a frank debate on the federal system of governance.

THE Prime Minister, Prof. Apollo Nsibambi, speaking at the graduation ceremony of the Uganda Martyrs University Nkozi, October 18, called for a frank debate on the federal system of governance.

With John Kakande THE Prime Minister, Prof. Apollo Nsibambi, speaking at the graduation ceremony of the Uganda Martyrs University Nkozi, October 18, called for a frank debate on the federal system of governance. A national debate on federalism is long over due and therefore, Prof. Nsibambi’s call is very pertinent. In my view, two contentious issues need to be boldly debated and resolved in order to enhance and consolidate the democratisation process in the country. The issue of federalism and multiparty politics have for 16 years remained unsettled and before they are resolved, the country’s democratisation process would remain incomplete. The Constitutional Review Commission is currently collecting views from the public. What is certain is that, like the prevision Odoki Commission of the 1990s, the current Ssempebwa Commission will no doubt find the country deeply divided on the two key issues of federalism and multiparty politics. It is already clear from the views so far received that there are people who are advocating for a federal system of government. There are also others who are equally against it. Equally, there are many people who are against the multiparty politics. But there also many who believe that restoring multiparty politics will be the best way to guarantee against dictatorship in future and to sustain democracy in the country. What now is required is a candid debate and dialogue on how to resolve the impasse on the two issues. The issue of multiparty politics is easier to fix. It is straightforward and has no religious or ethnic undercurrents. While there is accusation that political parties were formed on a sectarian basis, there is no dispute that today multipartists are socially diverse — belonging to various religions and ethnic groups from across the country. Following the last presidential and parliamentary elections, there now seems to be a willingness, even on the part of many Movement leaders, to open up the political space. President Museveni in his first press conference after the March 12, 2001 presidential elections promised that the Movement would review its position on the parties in year 2004. The matter ought to be sorted out as early as possible, earlier than 2004. President Museveni has committed himself to step down in the year 2006 and has to ensure an orderly succession. If it is not sorted out before he steps down, Museveni would have planted a political dynamite for his successor. The Political Organisations Bill (POB), which has been pending for six years should be expedited. The Bill, which was passed by the sixth Parliament, was vetoed by President Museveni who disagreed with a section allowing political parties to open branches at the district level. The Bill represented a delicate consensus that was attained in Parliament on this very contentious issue. Sadly, the tedious process has to be repeated in the seventh Parliament with new political players. The issue of federalism is more complicated and hard to resolve, due to historical prejudices and biases. The debate on federalism has been blurred by misconceptions and distortions (deliberate or otherwise) and has been characterised by ethnic undertones. Federalism has been portrayed as a tribal, a Buganda and a monarchical issue that does not concern people from outside Buganda particularly where there are no monarchies. This is quite absurd. Both United States and Germany have no monarchies but they are great and prosperous federations. The federalists in Buganda need to work jointly with federalists in other parts of the country to articulate the federal cause. This may necessitate formation of a national federalism advocacy organisation. Federalism and monarchism should not be mixed up. It should also be made clear that federalism and decentralisation are not exclusive. I think it is a mistake for advocates of federalism in Buganda to denounce decentralisation. They do not have to because federalism and decentralisation can be combined. In reality, decentralisation also enjoys broad support since it has allowed local leaders to exercise some political authority. The debate should not be, as has been the case so far, whether to have federalism or decentralisation. ends

The debate about federalism and multipartism should be resolved

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author