Minister Gen. Kahinda Otafire has called for laws to regulate the internal affairs of political parties
By John Odyek
Minister of justice and constitutional affairs, Gen. Kahinda Otafire has called for laws to regulate the internal affairs of political parties in order to restore discipline inside parties.
The outspoken minister says certain parties behave like universities where one ‘can afford to have indiscipline’.
“There is anarchy in some parties you don't know who to deal with. We must come up with a law against intraparty indiscipline. I call for absolute discipline within parties,” Otafire said.
He was addressing party representatives, donors and civil society leaders who were discussing the 2012-2016 draft strategic plan of the Electoral Commission (EC).
The function took place at Hotel Africana, Kampala and was organized by the commission.
Otafire said during the 2010 primary elections of all parties including NRM, there were many cases of election malpractice which were inconsistent with the principles of democracy.
There are 37 registered parties in Uganda today.
The minister attacked parties that criticize the EC for not organizing free and fair elections saying within them there was no democracy.
"Instability starts with primaries of parties including NRM. Even CP which has two members has instability. Democracy starts from parties," he said.
Otafiire said parties deal with issues that affect lives of people and party leaders should not play with peoples' lives.
"I fought for democracy. I lost comrades while fighting. It is bad to see people playing around for what people died fighting for. There has to be discipline," he said.
He described himself as a 'democrat ideologically' and said that as one of the founders of the NRM party, one of their key agenda was democracy and that free and fair elections were a cornerstone of democracy.
"Anyone who belongs to NRM and does not believe in free and free elections is exogenous to NRM. He is a sympathizer of NRM but not a member," he said.
The minister said fraudulent elections undermine the authority of elected officers. "The governed may listen to you because you have power but they will not respect you. Without respect there is no authority," he said.
The minister warned that he would not hesitate to reprimand any electoral official involved in election malpractice even if the person belonged to NRM or was chairman of the electoral commission or was himself.
He said ensuring free and fair elections would ‘be the greatest contribution I can make to Uganda.’
"We cannot callously disregard the will of people during elections and voting. I hate the idea of election observers. Observers can come but they cannot be the primary people to ensure free and fair elections," he stressed.
The President of the Forum for Integrity in Leadership, Emmanuel Tumusiime criticized NRM leaders for knowing the theories and not practicing what they preach.
Tumusiime asked how the NRM fields its members to stand as parliamentary candidates after being cited in cases of bribery of voters and charged with election malpractices.
Badru Kiggundu, chairman of the Electoral Commission said the strategic pillars to guide reforms of the commission would focus on organization strengthening, ensuring free and fair elections, improving integrity, accuracy and making the commission a more service-oriented organization.
"I appeal to all stakeholders in electoral democracy to take keen interest to timely policy formulation, enactment and implementation of laws and provision of funding and a secure environment," Kiggundu said.
Otafire wants laws for intra party discipline