As International Women’s day, March 8, approaches, I would like to implore Ugandans to be their sister’s keeper in regard to domestic violence.
Women, who are victims of domestic violence, suffer repeated beatings from their husbands or live-in partners to the point of permanent injury such as losing an eye, teeth and in extreme cases death.
More often than not, immediate neighbours and residents in the neighbourhood are fully aware when a physically and emotionally-scarred woman has been turned into a punching bag, due to the howls and screams emerging from her home. Instead of coming to the rescue of the victim of domestic violence, such a woman becomes fodder for gossip.
Last week, Frank Tumwebaze, the newly-appointed minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, said such victims are turned away by the authorities.
“A woman is assaulted and when she goes to the police, she is told to return home and resolve the matter there. This is because we take these cases lightly under the guise of them being ‘family affairs.’”
Why should gender-based violence (GBV) be treated as a private matter especially when there is a Child and Family Protection Unit, a department at police? Society needs to change its indifference towards GBV and get more involved in fighting the vice.
For example, in the USA and UK, under their neighbourhood watch systems, whenever a woman is being beaten up, concerned neighbors call the police who will knock on your door, saying they registered a complaint of disturbance.
If upon inquiry it is found to be true, such men are usually cautioned by law enforcement officers. Of course, there are men who have fallen victim to domestic violence but such occurrences are rare.
Consult about proposed O-Level curriculum
One reason the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) is pushing to impose the proposed curriculum for lower secondary is that they have done wide consultations.
NCDC is creating the impression that public universities have been consulted when their reference point are the vice chancellors. My experience with curricula reviews at Makerere University indicates that the actual review is done by ‘foot soldiers.’ That is, the teachers, primarily with the guidance from departmental chairs (heads of department) and school deans.
University leaders from the rank of deputy principal to the topmost administration level have no role in the review process at all. What input did NCDC get from the public universities’ vice chancellors to enrich and inform the said curriculum?
My experience with the war against genetically modified organism (GMOs) indicates that when you have an agenda forced on the grassroots by higher cadre elements (abuse of power), the interests are foreign and stakes very high.
We must not forget that the NCDC’s initial target was to merge physics, chemistry and biology into ‘science’ and history and religious studies into social studies, the way it is currently in primary. They (NCDC) and whoever is using them, are where they are today after coming under fire from different stakeholders who put up a spirited fight.
We must interrogate the timing of the pressure to impose changes on our curriculum.
Democratic Party, clean your house
Political parties are at it again! Instead of being organisations and vehicles for influencing government policy and development agenda, they are fast turning into tribal enclaves.
While the path to ethnic orientation of political parties is deeply rooted in Uganda since independence, as different parties belonged to different kinds of people, Democratic Party belonged to mainly Baganda Catholics. The same can be said of Kabaka Yekka (KY).
This trend cannot happen again at this moment when the president is trying as much as possible to make sure that we have a united and peaceful country that can stand the test of peace, unity and democracy.
Recently, we have been treated to several exchanges and drama between the leaders of this very old barren party. Tribal groupings are being launched at the expense of internal democracy in parties, which is sacrificed for self-survival.
For as long as there is always conflict between current leaders and upcoming leadership, internal party processes take second place and patriotism is compromised. Tensions are evident between political rivals and parties continue to be built around personalities, which are used to push vested interests.
Therefore, Ugandans should know that the political class is busy building tribal groupings and whipping up ethnic support. It is bad for the country. It stifles democracy, promotes insecurity, and scares away investors. It is bad for our children and their future to keep on having such divisions amongst us.
The bitter war in the Democratic Party between the Betty Nambooze and the Norbert Mao factions proves this is about tribe. Most Baganda members of the party have decided to disagree with Mao, a northerner, and instead followed Nambooze’s faction.
We are all Ugandans no matter the difference in political ideologies, so we should always put this at the back of our minds and remember that at one moment we voted as a country to follow the multi-party system of leadership that allows every person to fall under a party that best suits his/her ideology.
Let peace reign ahead of 2021
On Friday, February 14, 2020, a meeting that was called in preparation for the Democratic Party’s delegates’ conference ended in a fist fight between some youths who are divided along political bigwigs within the party.
The battle lines within the DP have been drawn on several fronts: namely, those who want to be the next party president general and candidates who want to stand on DP ticket.
Three people; Brenda Nabukenya, MP Muwanga Kivumbi and Lubega Mukaaku have all expressed interest in being party president general and each has supporters within the party. However, there have also been accusations that some party members are in the DP, but actually subscribe to the ideals of People Power and the NRM.
These accusations have led to the use of inflammatory language between party members and they have somewhat bordered on hate speech.
As political parties, the electoral law is very clear on defamatory speech and intimidation of candidates while conducting campaigns. According to the Presidential Elections Act section 23(3) and the Parliamentary Elections Act section 21(3):
“A person shall not, while campaigning, use any language which constitutes incitement to public disorder, insurrection or violence or which threatens war; or (b) which is defamatory or insulting or which constitutes incitement to hatred.”
Hate speech, intimidation and violence are some of the traits that have characterized internal political party politics since the 1996 elections to date. In the past, violence only seemed a preserve of national elections, but in the recent past, CCEDU has documented increased violence in local by-elections like Arua, Buguiri and Hoima and has seen an increasing trend of violence and intimidation in party primaries.
CCEDU appreciates the fact that political parties are organizing to participate in the 2021 elections; however, political party actors should be seen to embrace the democratic value of tolerance and peace rather than violence and intimidation.
Tolerance for diverse views should be harnessed as an indicator of political maturity. Political maturity is a cornerstone for sustainable development. Inflammatory or abusive language only serve to draw divisive lines and promote political intolerance. Therefore, CCEDU implores political actors to use respectful language that promotes peace and participation from all quarters.
Elections and electoral processes by their very nature are contentious and tense, so, anything ranging from fist fights to abusive language can be sparked, if there are no deliberate steps taken by the leaders to promote peace and tolerance.
It would be commendable if political parties developed policies on peace, reconciliation and tolerance. Violence and intimidation in political parties can partly be attributed to discontent, frustration, mistrust and disgruntlement among the electorate and political actors. Unity at party level should supersede fractionalism so that healthy intra-party relations are developed.