Monday, June 23, 2014

Uganda Soldiers should leave Somalia and South Sudan

After President Museveni delivered the annual 'State of the Nation address, the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Mr Wafula Oguttu Phillip, on 19th, gave this response:
Sourced from

1. Article 101(1) of the Constitution provides that “The President shall, at the beginning of each session of Parliament, deliver an address to Parliament on the state of the nation”.

In this address, the President is commanded by the Constitution to inform the country about the state of the nation since his last address the previous year, including what he or his government did during the year, what he plans to do this year and the enabling policies and laws that he is going to pursue and/or propose to Parliament and the country in the year ushered in by his address.

2. Unfortunately, in the long tenure of President Museveni, he has not managed to fulfill this duty, even though every year he duly makes a speech at the beginning of every session of Parliament saying anything he likes. This could explain why many of his assistants in this House, technocrats, and invited guests go into a slumber mode when he is delivering his address.
They know he is going to repeat what they have heard many times over and over again. Members of the public too no longer switch on their radios or television sets to listen to the President’s annual address; they don’t expect anything new and exciting.

3. As always, the President makes a sort of campaign speech, with the same aspirational statements on roads, electricity, health, education, agriculture, etc, that will not be fulfilled, spiced with abuses and insults to those leaders in the Opposition he considers to be his enemies. The President does not show any respect and does not hide his dislike for those who dare question his ideas, policies, style of leadership and quality of governance.
He has failed to embrace our political diversities. Rt. Hon. Speaker, Hon. Members, we are not in Opposition for the sake of opposing everything that government does or that we dislike any individual leader in government. No, we are opposed to personal rule, impunity, patronage, militarism, corruption, injustice and the system that perpetuates these evils.

4. Rt. Hon. Speaker, it may perhaps be prudent for Parliament to agree with the President on a proper format for the State-of-the-Nation Address to enable him adequately fulfill his duty as commanded by the Constitution. It wastes a lot of time for so many people to listen to almost the same speech every year and then listen to its variation when the Minister of Finance, on his behalf and in his presence, reads the Budget a few days later, followed by his long explanatory comments.
5. Rt. Hon. Speaker, on behalf of the Opposition in Parliament and all Ugandans, let me extend our condolences and sympathies to all the families which lost their loved ones, some in avoidable circumstances, especially our soldiers who died or were injured in Somalia, South Sudan and elsewhere on duty.
Our condolences also go to those who lost children under the age of five due to avoidable causes and mothers who were needlessly lost in child birth. We wish also to extend our condolences and sympathies to those who have lost loved ones in or have been displaced by natural disasters like those in Kasese, Sironko, Bududa, Kabong, Bulambuli and many other places.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, we take this opportunity to send our condolences to the people of Kenya on the loss of so many lives of their dear ones to terrorism in the recent past.

Ugandan soldiers should get out of Somalia;
6. Rt. Hon. Speaker, our soldiers have been in Somalia for many years now and we commend the work they have done on behalf of our country and thank them for enduring the sacrifices their service requires of them. However, we do not think they should still be in that country because by now they should have trained more than enough Somali soldiers to protect their own country. If Somalis do not want to fight for themselves, then it does not make sense for our soldiers to stay for so long.

7. Already some of our officers are under trial for alleged criminal offences committed in Somalia. What capacity is there to properly investigate activities so far away in order to avoid miscarriage of justice? Secondly, is there any specific law that allows alleged criminal offences committed in Somalia to be tried in Uganda?
Rt. Hon. Speaker, the country wants to know the time table for bringing back home our troops from Somalia. They cannot be a permanent substitute for a Somali national army. It is not a desirable development as it may prove detrimental to the security of the country and the people of Uganda and the region.

What is Uganda's Mission in South Sudan?
8. Rt. Hon. Speaker, similarly our troops continue to die in South Sudan in a senseless war long after fulfilling the initial mission for provision of a safe passage for our nationals who were trapped in South Sudan when the war began.

9. Rt. Hon. Speaker what is the current mission of our troops in South Sudan? Who is footing the bills of that mission? Why should Uganda take sides with one protagonist in what is essentially an intra SPLM struggle, an intervention that is proving to be a stumbling block in the peace negotiations between the belligerent sides.

10. Rt. Hon. Speaker, Ugandans and the world at large need to know the time table of the withdrawal of our troops from South Sudan. We want to know whether President Yoweri Museveni would welcome a similar open intervention by another country giving material support to the side against him in the ongoing internal NRM power struggle. This is exactly what his current belligerent intervention in South Sudan amounts to.

Current State of Governance in Uganda:
State of governance
12. Rt. Hon. Speaker, the major failure of the President is his refusal to effect a transition to a democratic multi-party system based on good faith, tolerance, trust and dialogue among the various political forces and actors and building national consensus.

13. Whereas Uganda is by law supposed to be in a multi-party system, the facts are to the contrary as on one hand there is the NRM Party fused with the state and government and on the other hand the Opposition parties strangled by the police and security agencies and whose members are classified as enemies of the state and their political party activities regarded as enemy activities. Persecution of political parties and their leaders is getting more intensified.

14. Rt. Hon. Speaker, the driving force behind whatever the regime is doing is the pursuance of a narrow political agenda focused on regime survival rather than nation building. 15. Regime survival has led to undisciplined patterns of expenditure of tax payers’ money such as the President’s permanent and continuous election campaigns, huge public administration costs, patronage, corruption, fraud, wastage and mismanagement of public resources.

Uganda has no Chief Justice
15. Rt. Hon. Speaker the administration of justice has been adversely affected by a number of undesirable developments. There has been a failure or rather a refusal by the President to appoint a substantive Chief Justice (CJ) after the retirement of the former CJ on attainment of the mandatory retirement age. There is also no substantive Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ). We now have a situation where a person not substantively appointed is acting in both positions of CJ and DCJ. This situation has affected morale in the Judiciary and the public thereby affecting the quality of administration of Justice. Rt. Hon. Speaker, how long can this August House effectively function without a substantive Speaker and without a substantive Deputy Speaker? This is the situation in the Judiciary for almost two years now.

16. Secondly, there has been a progressive appointment of NRM political cadres, former NRM Secretariat officials, former ministers and politicians who lost elections, to judicial positions in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. Whereas there is nothing that bars NRM cadres from appointment as judicial officers, it becomes worrying when it is part of a general policy of turning all facets of public life into a political tool of the ruling Party. What will happen to our Judiciary and indeed other state institutions when this government is gone? The Judiciary must be seen to administer justice impartially, but it is becoming impossible when appointments are made with political partisan activism and bias as one of the primary qualifications.

Political Parties
17. Rt. Hon. Speaker, the role of political parties is fundamental to the building of democracy, as they are the means through which citizens aggregate their political preferences, participate in the governance of the country and voice their concerns.
18. For political parties to operate effectively, there must be freedom of speech, the right to assemble and organise, there must be respect for human rights and the rule of law and there must be a level playing field for all political players.
19. If our country had moved to a true multi-party system, institutions of state should have disengaged from the ruling party. This has not yet happened, but it needs to happen, even in the interest of the NRM’s survival when out of power.
20. In a normal democratic multi-party system there are three essential conditions: i. Meaningful competition for political power among individuals and organised political parties; ii. Inclusive participation in the election of leaders at various levels and selection of policies through free and fair elections; and iii. A level of civil and political liberties sufficient to ensure competition and participation.

21. Rt. Hon. Speaker, allow me, at this juncture to congratulate Hon. Brenda Nabukenya, a gallant young lady who despite all obstacles put forward by the state machinery and the Head of State himself, won the Luweero by-election. Congratulations Hon. Brenda Nabukenya. Rt. Hon. Speaker, it is sad to note that the President, after so many years in power has still failed to embrace all the people of this country in their diversities, including political diversity and continues partisan activities even where he is expected to behave as the Fountain of Honour and President of all Ugandans.

22. Rt. Hon. Speaker, Hon. Members, while democracy can take many forms, no system can be called democratic without a meaningful level of competition, participation and civil and political liberties. These three conditions are largely absent in Uganda. Instead, we now have a system of personal patrimonial rule and impunity based on a mixture of fear, intimidation, repression and patronage. Power is exercised without restraint, un-encumbered by rules, regulations or the law or the Constitution. What matters is what the President wants, not what the country needs. The ongoing humiliation of the Lord Mayor of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) despite a High Court ruling in his favour is good example of his government’s impunity

23. Rt. Hon. Speaker a supposedly multi-party system is superimposed on a Movement System superstructure or at best running side by side with the Movement System, where the government, the presidency and the ruling party are one and the same thing.

24. Herein, lies the major failure of the President. Thirty years in power is enough time to have put in place and consolidated the necessary robust institutions and systems for a truly democratic order. Instead the President is often heard lamenting and complaining that there are not enough cadres and trusted agents to do his work or takeover from him as if he is not the one who has been in charge and failed to create enough cadres even for his party. Now, he has resorted to handing over civilian government work to soldiers, including agricultural extension services and the compilation of a voters’ register.

Calls for inclusive national conference

25. Rt. Hon. Speaker, Hon. Members, behind every well-functioning democratic system lies not only just constitutions, institutions and systems but also a series of unwritten rules. For example: (i) That the army, security agencies, civil servants do not get involved in politics; they remain neutral and impartial; (ii) That certain level of social justice must be preserved so that those who are in power must govern for the good of the country and keep personal enrichment within constant checks. (iii) There must be clear rules about the use of force by the armed forces and security agencies.

26. Rt. Hon. Speaker, once these unwritten rules are agreed upon, they will not be easily torn up as they are based on mutual trust. The most important unwritten rules actually relate to abuse of trust. Trust is required concerning both the basics of the Constitution – how power is distributed and how it is restrained – and about the operation of individual organs of the state. So long as this confidence and trust are not abused, the rules are capable of surviving many storms. Our country needs the unwritten rules for peace, national unity and a smooth transition. That is why there are numerous demands for a national consultation conference to agree on how to move our country forward.

27. Like Rt. Hon. Madam Speaker did at the opening of this Session of this August House, we too have been calling for a national dialogue and national healing and forgiveness. This is the best way Uganda can realise a well-functioning democracy in which politicians live in mutual respect and peaceful co-existence. If this is done, public officials will not think of taking bribes, judges will not contemplate giving way to government pressure and politicians will not plan going in exile when they lose power.

28. Rt. Hon. Speaker, once enough of these elements are established, then the system of governance as a whole can sustain and develop trust among the members of the public.
This is what is known as “soft power” and democracy is upheld by soft power, not by obnoxious public order management laws and patronage.

29. Rt. Hon. Speaker, we just took the liberty to dream, as the reality facing us is an authoritarian system, which is the easier route those who control the regime have taken, to retain power through personalising the army, police and security agencies, which use force, violence and fear to maintain a relatively stable and self- sustaining system but built on the sand. Hon. Speaker, this is what is known as “hard power”.

30. Rt. Hon. Speaker, militarism is a serious problem in Uganda. Militarism in this country comprises the following: i. Use of the military, police and other security agencies to solve political issues; ii. Regimentation of society (cadre formation through chakamchaka; every thorny political issue is referred to Kyankwanzi for deliberation under military discipline by privates (MPs), chaired by a General cum President) and proliferation of security organisations; iii. Use of confrontational methods and lack of compromise since political disputes or differences are regarded as enemy acts; iv. Use of absolute, final or terminal violent solutions instead of dialogue; v. The concept of security being based on maximum armament; and vi. Security being considered first national priority.

31. Proof that this country is under militarism is found in the priorities in the Budget Framework Paper 2014 in part 2 titled “Programmes for Social and Economic Development and Indicative Expenditure Framework”, which indicates “Maintenance of National Security and Defence” as the number one priority for allocation of funds in the FY 2014/15 Budget. This should not be the case for a country which for over 30 years have never been invaded by any neighbour.

32. Hon. Speaker, the solution for the situation we have outlined above, demands the holding of an all-inclusive national conference bringing together representatives of government, political parties, civil society, faith based organizations, business community, academia, youth, women and other sectors of society to agree on the way forward for the country.

33. We sincerely and firmly believe that the time to talk is now, not when the regime is crumbling as the signs of decay and inevitable disintegration are already accelerating and evident to everyone. The responsibility of dialogue largely lies on the President to take the initiative as long as he agrees to moderation by a neutral, independent mediator(s); or to accept an opposition or civil society initiative as long as it also is inclusive and mediated by an independent person(s).

Electoral Laws
34. The Rt Hon. Speaker, Elections involve high stakes which may precipitate violence in a country. Kenya 2007/08 is a recent example. Though the winning or losing of elections is tied to a political party, ultimately the credibility of elections is linked to national stability. Elections must exhibit an over-riding concern for the greater good of the country and the people as opposed to the good of special interests or party interests. Essentially elections must be a nation building exercise other than a divisive one. Indeed regular elections are held in our country but like they used to be in say Egypt or Iraq or Tunisia, by design the state party and its leader must win them, thus ensuring that candidate choices whether at primaries or general elections are hardly reflective of genuine preferences.

35. Rt. Hon. Speaker, electoral and other attendant laws in our country are designed to deny political space and funding to the Opposition parties. That is why the government has refused to implement the law on funding political Parties passed by this August House several years ago. Elections therefore are for the purpose of window dressed democracy and legitimisation of flawed processes. Hon. Speaker, this is why most of our people, especially the youth unfortunately, now believe that there are no chances of changing government in Uganda through elections. They are instead asking for guns to fight the regime.

36. This situation is dangerous and it must be addressed and changed, otherwise the country could be plunged into a catastrophe in the not so distant future.

Electoral Commission
37. Rt. Hon. Speaker, this is why the Electoral Commission (EC) becomes an important institution to review and reform as the EC makes and implements important decisions that influence the outcome of elections. Thus the EC must be seen to be impartial and independent of government and other influences, which is not the case now.

38. The composition and formation of the EC affects the credibility of an electoral process. Therefore, it is important to get consensus of government, political parties, civil society, media and the public about the formation, composition, functions, jurisdiction and operation of the Electoral Commission. If the electoral process is not cleaned up, voter apathy will set in and participation in elections will be greatly reduced further.
New Electoral System
39. Rt. Hon. Speaker, all the electoral reform proposals being made are predicated on the existing electoral system of the individual member constituency, First Past the Post or winner takes it all system that is prevalent in the former British colonies and the United States of America, remaining in place.

40. Whereas the institutional and legal frameworks may have problems, most of the elections and problems in Uganda including monetization, rigging, violence, tribalism, religious bias to which we experience during elections are associated with our electoral system.

41. We have the single member constituency, First Past the Post in which the winner is the one with most votes but not necessarily the majority of votes.

42. Rt. Hon. Speaker, no electoral system is perfect but in a transitional phase in which Uganda currently is; the most important requirement for an electoral system is that it should maximiSe inclusiveness and present minimal areas for potential pre-election and post-election conflicts.

43. The most suitable electoral system for Uganda where elections have been so monetised may be the List – Proportional Representation System in which voters vote for a party rather than an individual candidate and Parties receive seats in proportion to their overall share of the total votes cast.

44. Each party presents a list of candidates at the time of nomination and the winning candidates are taken from the list in order of their respective position on the list.

45. Rt. Hon. Speaker, we wish to propose that we could start with the women special interest group so that women seats are allocated to parties according to the proportion of votes received by each party. Once the country gets used to the new system, then it could be expanded to cover allelectoral offices. This system is used in continental Europe, Latin America, Southern Africa and all former African French, Spanish and Portuguese colonies. In East Africa it is used with variations in Burundi and Rwanda and in Kenya and Tanzania only for special interest seats.
The Economy
46. Rt. Hon. Speaker, Hon. Members over the last 28 years it is true that substantial resources have been invested to stimulate development, increase growth and reduce poverty. In spite of all this, virtually everyone, citizens, policy makers and experts agree that the expected welfare dividends for the ordinary person have not materialised.
47. Rt. Hon. Speaker, government programmes have largely remained unimplemented or poorly implemented despite large amounts of money expended on them.
48. Rt. Hon. Speaker, official statistics show that chronic poverty levels remain high at about 12 million people. Our National economy remains largely a nature-based economy while progress to industrialisation remains marginal. The road infrastructure, especially rural feeder roads and urban roads in the suburbs, are in a sorry state. Hon. Speaker, there has been no visible socio-economic transformation and improvements in the quality of life for the majority of Ugandans. There is therefore, need for new national initiatives to reverse this “No Change” trend starting with economic, political and governance reforms.

Uganda's Agriculture sector has declined from 5% in the late 80's to 1.5% currently
49. Rt. Hon. Speaker, government is ever boasting of having registered impressive achievements, such as macroeconomic stability, low inflation rates, stable Uganda Shilling, liberalisation of domestic market and exchange rates, privatisation of public enterprises, diversification of exports and elimination of state intervention in the economy. However, the situation on the ground is completely different. Take for example the following government programs in Agriculture.

50. Whereas it is true that there have been many well designed programmes what have been their end results? Largely failure. What have been the outcomes of barter trade of the 80s, the Poverty Reduction Action Plan? What about Plan for Modernization of Agriculture (PMA), Naads, Environment Action Plan and the more recent Prosperity for All (BonnaBagagawale of Shs.20 million shilling per household)?
These have largely been mere political slogans with minimal results. They all failed. Where are the six heifers per family which the President promised Ugandans in his last year’s State of the Nation Address?

51. Hon. Speaker, the growth rate in agriculture has declined from about 5% in the late 80s to about 1.5% presently yet population growth is about 3.5%. Agricultural contribution to GDP has also declined to around 15-20%, which significantly accounting for the acute poverty situation in the country.

52. Hon. Speaker, it is a shame that a sector which accounts for over 70% of the population generally gets less than 5% of the national budget allocation. The challenge to achieve faster modernisation, growth and higher productivity in agricultural sector calls for the budget allocation to increase to 15% over the next 10 years.

53. Rt. Hon. Speaker, our agriculture is still primitive, characterised by using the hand hoe, low yielding seeds and relying on rainfall rather than irrigation and fertilizers despite the decades’ long song of modernization of agriculture.

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