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I prophesy: The seventh parliament won't be assertive

By Vision Reporter

Added 10th July 2001 03:00 AM

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni remarked, during the parliamentary elections, that an MP who sleeps during proceedings, but wakes up and votes 'properly' (in accordance with the stand of the Movement leadership) is worthwhile.

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni remarked, during the parliamentary elections, that an MP who sleeps during proceedings, but wakes up and votes 'properly' (in accordance with the stand of the Movement leadership) is worthwhile.

With John Kakande PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni remarked, during the parliamentary elections, that an MP who sleeps during proceedings, but wakes up and votes 'properly' (in accordance with the stand of the Movement leadership) is worthwhile. This remark that surprised a lot of people showed how keen the President was to ensure that Movement loyalists dominate Parliament. In line with his stated stand, Museveni aggressively campaigned against the Winnies - Babihuga in Rukungiri and Byanyima in Mbarara Municipality. There is no doubt that these two were among a handful of backbench star-performers in the Sixth Parliament. Museveni also heartily applauded the defeat of Dick Nyai (Ayivu) and Livingstone Okello-Okello (Chua). These too were legislators of repute. The President, in pursuit of the same goal last week told the Parliamentary Movement Caucus, to reject Ben Wacha's bid to become the deputy Speaker of Parliament. Reason? Wacha is a Multipartist who rejected an offer for a ministerial post in the Movement administration last year. There was no dispute among majority of legislators who were in the Sixth Parliament that Wacha was very suited for the position of Deputy Speaker. It was also politically prudent for the Movement leadership to let Wacha become deputy Speaker since the President, Vice President, Speaker, Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice were all from the south. Of course, there is no government anywhere in the world, which wants a legislature, controlled or dominated by the opposition. But President Museveni's maneuvers to ensure that Movement loyalists dominate Parliament raises concerns. It has been argued that a democracy cannot effectively function without an 'opposition'. Even in Britain during the recent general election, there were accusations that the Labour Party big parliamentary majority had made Prime Minister Tony Blair 'arrogant'. There were many in Britain who did not want Labour to win with an overwhelming parliamentary majority. Will the Seventh Parliament be a rubber-stamp? I think it is too early to say with certainty what the character of the new Parliament will be. Nevertheless, there are number of factors which are likely to undermine its independence and adversely affect its character. I do not think that this Parliament would be as assertive as its predecessor. There are a big number of MPs who were officially financed by the Movement. There are MPs who went through due to the support they got from the Movement functionaries. For instance Tom Kayongo (Lubaga North), Francis Babu (Central Division) Margaret Zziwa (Kampala), Iddi Lubyayi (Bukomansimbi), Anthony Yiga (Kalungu West) and Winfred Masiko (Rukungiri)were directly backed by the President. Such MPs are in a politically awkward situation. They will find it extremely difficult to take an independent stand on issues where the Movement leadership has a vested interest. Every time they take a stand contradicting that of the Movement establishment, they will be reminded that had it not been for the support the Movement gave them, they would not be in the Parliament. The group that will finally determine the character of this Parliament comprises of the Movement MPs who were elected as 'independents'. These are the Movement MPs who either never received official funding or were decampaigned. In this group, you have such MPs like Sarah Nansubuga (Ntenjeru North), Ibrahim Kaddunabbi (Butambala), Nathan Byanyima (Bukanga), Mulindwa Birimumaaso, Peter Mukasa Bakaluba (Mukono North), Kalibogha Kithende (Bukonjo East), Kule Muranga (Busongora North) Kibanzanga Mbalibulha (Busongora South), Louis Opange (Pallisa) and others. Some of these Movement MPs have been branded 'Multipartists' because they do not agree with the Movement leadership on certain issues or because they supported the 'reform wing' of the Movement during the presidential elections. There are some among this group who received some funding mainly due to their personal relationship with Bidandi Ssali or other Movement's bigwigs. But some of the Movement leaders treat them with mistrust. This is the group to watch in the new Parliament. If these MPs swing towards the Multipartists, the Movement will have a real problem. Ends

I prophesy: The seventh parliament won't be assertive

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