Members of parliament are in their constituencies to consult people about the Constitution Amendment No 2 Bill with article 102(b) being at the centre of controversy.
Although consultation and consensus building are significant building blocks in democratic governance, the manner and timing with which these consultations are taking place beg a few questions and raise concern at different levels.
First, there is no clear method of conducting these consultations, at least from what I read in the press. Much as some ruling party legislators have opted to consult among party cadres, elders and supporters, some opposition lawmakers have resorted to ‘street’ consultations.
It is apparent that each party in these consultations is serving their own interests, not those of the country. The situation has even been worse with acts of violence especially between citizens and the police.
The modus operandi of these consultations may not bear fruit on the intended outcome of gathering people’s views on this bill. The process is further put in doubt by the Shs 29m advanced to members of parliament for consultations.
Already, sections of the opposition in parliament have publicly returned the money and called it a bribe. Their characterization of this facilitation for the consultations as a masked bribe may, after all, not be farfetched. The speed with which this money was budgeted for and deposited on MPs’ accounts is unprecedented.
Even floods, hunger and epidemics that have hit this country have not received such swift financial response. MPs receive monthly emoluments including mileage and constituency facilitation, which should suffice for this purpose.
How is this consultation different from the other consultations they are meant to do?
One is left wondering whether MPs ever account for this money. What happens if they use less money, do they ever refund the balance? Do we even have a monitoring mechanism to ensure that this money is put to the right use?
Those that have returned the money should be applauded; the irony is when sections of some opposition MPs justify keeping the said money, even after castigating the source. When it comes to returning monies, opposition members start speaking in tongues, hence losing the moral authority to castigate their counterparts in NRM.
Parliament ought to come up with a structured approach to these and further consultations that will be held.
The Shs 13bn being shared among MPs can settle some of the demands of the striking civil servants. The level of commercialization of politics is unsustainable for this country.
Cissy N Kagaba,
Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda.
Don’t judge Frank Gashumba as yet
Ugandans should be careful not to write much judging Frank Gashumba because it is difficult to trust law enforcement organs that are openly known to be partisan.
Arresting Gashumba and publicly humiliating him feeds nicely into the prevailing stereotype that a lot of opposition leaders are doing illegality while at the same time criticizing government.
Sometime the best defense, or rather revenge, is silence on an issue that government expects to dominate social media.
Not every arrest warrants a heated debate.
Our silence and refusal to be proactive has a causal effect on those doing partisan stuff.
This incident should instead prompt a much-needed conversation about partisan policing, partisan army, partisan military intelligence, partisan judiciary and the treatment of those that write opinions against Museveni.
Yes, there is an urgent need to address and diminish drugs and corruption in our communities, but we should be wary of aligning ourselves with elements that use that objective to tear us down, further divide us, distract us from more urgent state wrongs, and propagate the same old tropes through new means.
I think we need to be patient and listen to what Gashumba will say in his defense before we pass any judgment; that is my stance.
Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba,