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DP plans to sue the NRM-O

By Vision Reporter

Added 21st October 2003 03:00 AM

The Democratic Part (DP) is one of the political organisations that have made it a habit to go to court and challenge political decisions that they deem unfair

The Democratic Part (DP) is one of the political organisations that have made it a habit to go to court and challenge political decisions that they deem unfair

By Joshua Kato

The Democratic Part (DP) is one of the political organisations that have made it a habit to go to court and challenge political decisions that they deem unfair.

DP has taken the referendum and the Political Parties Organisations Act (PPOA) to court and won in both. Now, DP has filed a petition against the registration of the National Resistance Movement Organisation (NRM-O)

DP’s lawyer Elias Lukwago points out several illegal activities that were involved in the meeting to create the NRM-O.

“Registering NRM-O in its current form is illegal and an abuse of the constitution of Uganda and the PPOA,” he says.

He quotes section 8 which says that no one will be allowed to register whose name resembles that of a statutory body. The Movement enshrined in the constitution is a statutory body.

Lukwago charges that the Movement is a system for Uganda and owned by the people of Uganda, so it cannot be hijacked by a section of the population, with all its instruments, like the secretariat and the symbols.

Besides, he says that in the course of the meeting, several people barred by the PPOA from taking part in such meetings, intended to create political parties were involved. These included army officers like the President, senior civil servants like RDCs. Lukwago also accuses the promoters of the Organisation for funding their activities using state funds.

He also says that contrary to the regulations in the PPOA, NRM-O was founded by, among others, soldiers and public officials. His main example is the President. DP has a letter signed by Museveni as chairman and convenor of the meeting in March this year. However, according to a list of founder members of the NRM-O that this reporter saw, the President did not sign anywhere as the founder of the organisation. The list has got the main founders as Alhajji Moses Kigongo and Jaberi Bidandi Ssali. Besides, even if he had signed, the regulations are that any person found to be illegal under the PPOA is simply struck off the list, fined sh0.4m or imprisoned for one year, but that does not stop the registration of the party.

There is also the battle for the symbols and names of the organisation. DP claims that the use of the colour green by NRM-O is also in contravention of the rules, since that colour belongs to DP. But Ofwono Opondo, director of information at the Movement Secretariat says that DP does not own any colour, because of two reasons.

“DP is not a registered political party, thus it cannot claim to own this or that colour, in essence, DP does not exist,” he says. He adds “ DP has never gone to the registrar and booked that colour.

"As far as the colour yellow and the bus are concerned, Ofwono says that systems do not have symbols or colours. “Can they find a gazette where the Movement system gazetted the bus and yellow colour as its symbols?” he asks.

Lukwago also says that during the convening of the meeting, NRM-O used tax payers money to finance the meetings. However, this will be hard to prove in courts of law, since the democratic party does not have any signied vouchers from the ministry of finance to the effect. “No funds were drawn from the ministry of finance to finance that meeting,” says James Kinobe, who was a “simple observer,”

Most of the promoters of the organisation admit that they nearly broke the law during the course of their meetings. This is because senior army officers and senior civil servants nearly signed documents indicating that they had attended the meetings.

“Our legal advisors had not put in mind all the legal implications of the meeting. But as we progressed, we realised that many of those in the meeting were actually not supposed to declare themselves as founding members of the party, one of the promoters of NRM-O says. They left the signing to those who were not barred under the law. This is were lukwago and company will find problems in courts of law. “The court needs documentary evidence and not hearsay,,” Kinobe confidently says. But Lukwago says he has got this evidence. To prove that army officers were involved in the meeting, Lt. General Elly Tumwine was given the task of designing the NRM-O flag. “Can they deny that Tummwine, a Lt. General of the army did not attend the meeting, yet it is clearly documented that he was given the responsibility of designing the flag?” Lukwago queries confidently.

Kinobe says that Tumwine was in the meeting as an artist, not as an army man. Lukwago will find it difficult to separate Tumwine the fine artist and Tumwine the soldier. The general is one of the best artists in the country.

He can easily say, he was in the meeting as an artist and not as a founder or promoter of the new organisation. “Was Tumwine given any other responsibility other than designing the flag? Kinobe asks, beaming with equal confidence. He adds, “He was there as an artist, period.”

Kinobe and other promoters argue that the NRM-O being registered is not the Movement that is in the Constitution. NRM was the name of the group that captured power in 1986. It was however put to rest after the promulgation of the 1995 constitution, and the enacting of the Movement act later on.

They say that what some people are forgetting is that the Movement system which is different from NRM-O has not been tampered with. “We are not registering the system that is in the Movement act and the Constitution. We are registering an organisation,” says Moses Kigongo.

Besides, DP seems to be contradicting itself, when it says that the Movement is a system owned by the people and the state of Uganda. This is especially after the very DP won a suit in the constitutional court saying that the movement was a political party.

“They said we are a political party, so we moved and began our registration process, but now, they are moving and saying that the party we are registering is not a party, what do they want?” Kinobe asks.

Alhajji Moses Kigongo is asking why the parties, that had been crying to be released for so many years seem to be reluctant to grab this opportunity and organise themselves. “Let these people help this country by not indulging in non-issues. Let them just go ahead and register,” he advises.

By reacting all the time to what the NRM-O has done, parties perhaps don’t realise that they are giving the initiative to the NRM-O. It is the NRM-O that seems to be setting their agenda. This is certainly wrong, especially at a time when parties should be organising themselves.

The underlying fear for DP and the opposition at large is that if the NRM-O uses the bus, the yellow colour and the name itself-Movement, it will be very easy for them to convince the population to vote for them. “The legacy of the NRM has been tirelessly worked for by the people of Uganda. Why should it be grabbed by one party? Lukwago was heard grumbling.

Party supporters are grumbling that the organisation is hijacking achievements that the movement brought. Indeed, in the NRM-O preamble, the history of the successes are clearly documented.

The preamble talks about women emancipation, education for all (UPE) electrification, peace, unity and modernisation, as some of the developments that were brought by the organisation. The opposition fears that with this, the NRM-O is starting at a bigger advantage.

Analysts are left wondering what DPs motives are. “DP is simply trying to play hide and seek in the current political situation. They are simply trying to shift goal posts and sabotage the transition,” says Frank Tumwebaze, Information Research Assistant to the President.

Leaders of opposition parties, who have long resisted change, consider registering as another disadvantage to them.

This is because according to the PPOA, a registered party is required to hold elections for office bearers, within six months.

Such leaders will do whatever it takes to frustrate the registration and opening up progress, including blocking other parties from registering.

As the openning up takes root, many of them will have to account for every amount of money they have been getting from friends. This according to analysts is one of the reasons some of these parties don’t want to quickly embrace the process.

DP supporters in the Diaspora have been sending money to run the party for many years. There are reports that a good number of these supporters are demanding for accountability of these monies.

DP plans to sue the NRM-O

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