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Friday,September 18,2020 14:53 PM

Democracy, real and fake

By Vision Reporter

Added 24th October 2003 03:00 AM

FOR sometime now political opposition had been nagging the Movement government to enter dialogue (consultations) with them over the “way forward,” towards multipartysm.

FOR sometime now political opposition had been nagging the Movement government to enter dialogue (consultations) with them over the “way forward,” towards multipartysm.

--The sensitive question is: Is the Government bringing on full democracy?
Ofwono’s OpTion

FOR sometime now political opposition had been nagging the Movement government to enter dialogue (consultations) with them over the “way forward,” towards multipartysm.
Those in Parliament asked for a “road map” or timetable, which course is strange because the Constitution spells out the political process to 2006.
These demands are based on a number of premises including the fear to use the elaborate but popular constitutional avenues like the LCs, Parliament and the presidency established since 1986.
James Rwanyarare, Paul Ssemogerere, Karuhanga Chapaa, Beti Kamya, Kibirige Mayanja and Adonia Tiberondwa, among others who are not elected, are the ones calling for a national conference.
There is also a strategy to bog down the Government in consultations where they hope to keep raising new demands. It is worth remembering they have been in endless court battles, hoping to derail all programmes but with no success. While they call for consultations, the dispirited old guards have now left the footwork to diplomatic and donor missions to a new shoddy group called the “Popular Resistance to Life Presidency.” Their aim is to undermine and isolate the Government.
As they schemed, the Government responded by appointing a committee under the NPC and the Minister Without Portfolio, Dr Crispus Kiyonga, to hold consultations. However, even before it starts, some cowards in the shadow are already pouring cold water over the credibility of the team and exercise.
These developments are not surprising because leading party advocates believe and want centralized authority for their leaders, as stated by UPC’s Tiberondwa.
Those against Movement doctrines for years, and the new critics, are trying to exploit populism to take power for themselves.
According to media reports attributed to Augustine Ruzindana (MP Ruhama), the Kiyonga committee will not be useful except as a diversionary political ploy by the Government!
The new-found democrats led by Ruzindana have joined to hide behind “multipartyism,” and the “term limit” so as to exploit a perceived moral prestige.
Fortunately, their records in institutions they have served since 1986 speak differently from the current posturing. In one case, a leading member of that group literally ‘killed’ the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as its chairperson in the Sixth Parliament.
There has never been a PAC report to Parliament. And there was none when the same individual was the ombudsman for eight years! Yet according to him, Yoweri Museveni’s vision should only be seen in light of the Cabinet’s “proposed constitutional amendments.”
Having been betrayed by populist politicians before, Ugandans need to be on guard to ensure democracy remains on course. Thus, the proposed consultations should focus on efforts to deepen reforms towards separation of powers among the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary.
Since we are moving into formal multipartyism, there is need to agree and demarcate the rights and responsibilities of the Government and opposition, especially on national security and the territorial integrity of Uganda.
At the core of the consultations should be a mechanism for continuous dialogue on inter-party relations, coalition building and relations with interest groups, civil society and the electorate.
This will help deal with the hitherto political polarisation in the past where opponents were taken to be enemies.
In addition, we need a legal framework to ensure effective and fair political competition, especially the creation, registration, operation and financing of political parties.
Establish strong guides to the Government and citizens and establish mechanisms for conflict prevention and resolution.
Strengthen departments managing elections like the electoral commission, registrar general, police and judiciary.
Consider further devolution of powers to enhance popular participation, and the roles of women, PWDs, youths and workers in decision-making.
Other areas the groups could explore include repeal of laws or administrative policies obstructing the free enjoyment of speech, expression, assembly, association, and press freedom.
Some sections of the Police Statute (1998), the Media and Journalism Statute (1995), the PPOA (2002), the Referendum Act (2000), and the Sedition Law could be looked into. We need consensus on provisions, which entrench individual merit principles in elections so that independent candidates can stand if parties become obstacles.

An agreement is needed on the enforcement of laws prohibiting civil servants, and members of the armed forces and intelligence from involvement in party politics.
The groups need to agree on training of the armed forces, on peace education and respect for the rule of law.
Train civilians to monitor defence and security policy so as to discourage undue involvement of the military in electioneering.
Build a vibrant civil society, which include a free media, NGOs, community based organisations, and educated citizenry essential for holding politicians accountable.
There is need to examine support for the mass media, and protecting them from manipulation, intimidation and violence.
In addition, support be given to civil society on ways to exercise collective weight in democracy promotion, and coordinate strategies to influence recalcitrant and corrupt political activists.
The NGOs, CBOs, and communities ought to strengthen their capacity to network and aid each other, defend those facing danger, and forge a sense of national purpose.
There is need to examine available assistance to political groups’
development to increase their capacity.
Ends

Democracy, real and fake

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