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Wednesday,August 12,2020 23:59 PM

Opposition good for the House

By Vision Reporter

Added 22nd May 2001 03:00 AM

THE race to Parliament kicked off on Monday with nominations of candidates. The next five weeks will be gruelling for Members of Parliament fighting for their political lives.

THE race to Parliament kicked off on Monday with nominations of candidates. The next five weeks will be gruelling for Members of Parliament fighting for their political lives.

There has been talk that candidates who are opposed to President Museveni or the Movement should not be elected to Parliament. I think, for the next Parliament to be strong, it should include all the shades of political opinion. The country would get a raw deal if the next Parliament were dominated by only the supporters of the establishment. The country does not need a rubberstamp. The Sixth Parliament whose terms expires on July 2, 2001 has been strong because it has had a number of very articulate MPs, some of them Multipartists and independent minded Movementists. Oyam North and South MPs Ben Wacha and Dr Okulo Epak respectively, both self-confessed Multipartists, have been among the most respected and principled members in the Sixth Parliament. Ben Wacha, unlike the rest of multipartists in the House, did not oppose the amendment of the Constitution last year. To the contrary, Wacha supported the amendment as Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline. Dr Epak has struggled so hard to ensure that government establishes a national planning authority as required by the Constitution. The National Planning Authority Bill is not before Parliament. So it is not true that when multipartists are elected to the Parliament, they only work to sabotage the government programmes. A number of other multipartists like Nobert Mao, Ken Lukyamuzi, Absolom Ongom, Aggrey Awori, Omara Atubo, Okello Okello, Reagan Okumu and Absolom Ongom have enriched debates and contributed to making the House vibrant. I do not therefore believe that they have played a negative role. On the contrary, there have been some Movement MPs who have hardly featured in debates. It is notable that this time a significant number of veteran politicians, some senior ministers, have decided not to contest for parliamentary seats. The ministers not standing for election include Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Mayanja Nkangi, Local Government Minister Bidandi Ssali, Finance Minister Gerald Ssendaula and First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eriya Kategaya. Let no one, however, be under the misconception that these politicians are going to retire from politics. They have simply quit parliament. In any case, President Museveni is free to appoint any person who is qualified to be an MP, to become a minister. It should not surprise anyone if some of these veteran politicians are again appointed to Cabinet. Bidandi Ssali has already intimated he may run for City mayorship. Mayanja Nkangi has stated clearly he would not quit leadership of the Conservative Party or the political stage at that. President Yoweri Museveni, while speaking at a victory party hosted by Bidandi Ssali, on Sunday remarked that Parliamentarians must be "young people who can run up and down." Candidates standing against veteran politicians like Abu Mayanja, Paul Etiang, Kirunda Kivejinja and Dr Kisamba Mugerwa would obviously capitalise on these remarks. There have been calls for the veteran parliamentarians to step down. There has been pressure on veterans like Etiang, Dr Kisamba Mugerwa, Zackary Olum, Kirunda Kivejinja and others to step aside on the grounds that they have been on the scene for far too long. This raises a question whether there should be a limit on the number of terms an MP should serve. Some people argue that an MP should not serve for more than two terms in order to allow new actors to take over. In my view, an MP should serve as many terms as he wants as long as he or she is elected in a competitive, fee and fair election. It should be the electorate to determine the fate of their MPs. I do not see any reason that would necessitate limiting the terms of an MP. I also do not know of any country in the world where MPs serve for a limited number of years. In the United States where the President strictly serves for only two terms (eight years), there was an attempt some years ago to amend the Constitution and limit the terms for the members of Congress. But this was rejected. In Germany, some of the legislators have served for as long as eight or nine terms! ends

Opposition good for the House

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