OPINION: We must stop electing mickey mouse characters to represent us

Opinions

By Sharp Mugabe

Last week, I attended the high-level national stakeholders’ dialogue on constitutional reforms that took place at Golf course Hotel, Kampala.

The dialogue sought to discuss ideas in the public domain concerning constitutional, legal, and political reforms where issues raised would provide a basis for further joint research between civil society and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

Dr. Moses Isooba, the Executive Director of the Uganda National NGO Forum revealed that they would further conduct citizen consultative engagements to collect citizen voices on the nature and substance of proposals that the responsible institutions can consider and hopped to collaborate with the Parliament, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and the Electoral Commission.

After the key note address delivered on behalf of the Electoral Commission Chairperson, as expected, Mr. Godber Tumushabe attacked with a rejoinder indicating that elections have always been distorted.

“I want to actually state categorically that we don’t have elections as commanded by the constitution.”

He went on and informed the audience that elections have been hijacked, and they needed to deal with it. In his own words, Uganda is under state capture.

By this, he reduced the whole stakeholders’ dialogue to the usual talk show kind of conversations, full of bias and prejudice.

His biased sentiments as a senior civil society representative left me wondering the kind of citizen engagements the forum would conduct after this dialogue.

On the other hand, I was astonished at Hon. Nobert Mao’s presentation. He carefully selected words to use and made sure to emphasise his points for clarity. Perhaps, he knew he had a very volatile audience.

“If you have a legitimate cause, stick it out. Just articulate your cause as clear as possible, without personalising it. There is no need to threaten anybody’s job to fight for your cause,” Hon. Nobert Mao said.

He also advised that whatever step they take, they should move in tandem with the head of state.

Hon. Mao revealed that the ministry is working on a constitutional review that proposes a 2-party system.

Once the proposal is implemented, we would have an electoral system where one MP would represent 150,000 people thereby reducing the parliament to utmost 300 members and one term of office for the president.

“People generally think we should have 2 terms. But we can even have 1 term and prolong it. We want to promote democracy, social justice, peace and stability, amidst a society full of ethnic, linguistic, religious and cultural differences.”

When the moderator opened the floor for questions and feedback, the audience was heated up, but chances were only limited to a few because of the time factor. NUP never disappoints.

“I personally, I am very tired. Oh! I didn’t tell you, I come from the National Unity Platform, and Mr. Kyagulanyi is my president. Am so tired of these workshops, because at the end of the day, we are going to listen to the good English, good words blah blah blah.. We may find that these workshops are even sponsored by Mr. Museveni. What has Mr. Museveni done ever since he captured power.”

These were the words of Hon. Nakimuli Hellen, the Member of Parliament for Kalangala District.

Reflecting on the above, I make sense of a comment from one of the panelists while presenting under the topic: What key reforms are required to improve Uganda’s political environment?.

Mr. Kamadi Byonabye, the Director of Research, Education and Documentation at Uganda Human Rights Commission highlighted the need for behavioural  change.

He noted that it is important for all actors to act professionally; understanding regulations, existing frameworks and doing what is required of them.

Indeed, we have witnessed a growing trend of politicians who find no alternative other than abusing, spreading fake information and undermining fellow competitors.

More so, when campaign time approaches, internet is awash with lots of false information about government and different personalities.

Others go extreme to forge kidnaps, harassment and torture at the expense of gaining support. And when the campaign day draws closer, more panic ensues, giving birth to even dirtier vices; in the last presidential campaigns, a section of the population in various areas was intimidated from voting by mere propaganda that they would be beaten up. All these are votes wasted. This partly accounts for less voter turnout.

According to Hon. Nobert Mao, these are Mickey Mouse characters elected to make decisions for us.

We need more of behavioural  or mindset change programmes targeting to cleanse Uganda of politics of hate speech and malicious propaganda.

The young generation must be groomed into professional and thoughtful leaders who act with logic & reason, substance and issues rather than emotions.

This way, we will be able to maintain cross generational harmony. And we shall witness the continuity of the growth and development agenda that has already been set by the good leadership of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. With this, I anticipate a secure future.

The writer is the acting deputy director for the Government Citizen Interaction Centre, State House.

 

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