Posts Tagged ‘Parliament of Uganda’

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The quality of a country’s policies and governance depends on the strength of its Institutions and those appointed to led in those institutions. The ongoing Parliamentary inquiry into the Presidential Handshake tells you how easy it is for a patronage system to misuse institutions to share or loot resources meant for the entire nation.
As a country, we have a crumbling economy that was brought due to systematic indolence and incompetence. In a normal functioning country, institutions can easily change their policy instruments to be able to rectify emerging problems or challenges. In a serious country where good governance is taken seriously heads roll, people lose jobs for abusing their authority.
Power is in the hands of a certain socio-economic group, that controls institutions to their benefit rather than the entire population of Uganda. The fact that millions of dollars were signed off to the pockets of a few people using unlawful means entirely reveals the oil presidential handshake a true image of a patronage led economy and an act that has robbed the entire population.
The Presidential Handshake is just but the smallest question in the oil tax scandal that Ugandans should be asking. The question is why should a tax body Uganda Revenue Authority whose job was to make sure that Uganda gets her taxes amounting to US$407 million in capital gains tax in a such a big case that had been heard and won before Uganda Tax Appeals tribunal be pulled out from the same court where Uganda won a case against Heritage Oil? The precedent set by the Heritage Oil case would have been the guiding principle to stay the Tullow Oil versus Uganda Revenue Authority case in the same court hoping to win it for Uganda.
The reason Government of Uganda took this case to the International Tribunal they were convinced they had a good case, why would they go in for settling out of court through a confidential Memorandum of Understanding with Tullow Oil for a lesser amount?
On 15 March 2011, they rushed to the International Tribunal and applied to withdraw the case and settle of out of court? And Tullow made an announcement on their website; Tullow settles Capital Gains Tax dispute in Uganda
We are setting our eyes on just US$20 million but there is a problem, those who might have benefitted from the out of court settlement must have walked away with millions of dollars close to US$157 million. We must ask serious questions in whose interest was that memorandum of understanding between Tullow Oil and Government of Uganda? Why has that Memorandum of Understanding been never made public? Was it a private or personal document and yet it was made on behalf of the people of Uganda?
So this so called Presidential Handshake is just a mirror of other handshakes and that is why it points back to the patronage. You see if that case had not been tampered with, the money it would have brought would have benefited the entire population, but because we are living in a patronage led economy the economic fortunes of many are shared with those who they know rather than what they know and can do for the whole country. The continual circumvention of the tax laws is abused in order to favour their group.
If you look at the way the list was generated the biggest number of the beneficiaries depend on the good will of their master and personal contacts within the group. You have seen that everyone is questioning how the list was generated but no law was followed in generating the list and so the same happened with the way they accessed public funds to reward themselves. That group of people have a problem with a well-functioning government and institutions, that would make it difficult for them to be able to circumvent the laws for their personal gains.
We live in a system that does not care about educational qualifications, that doesn’t care about hiring people on merit because of their skill-set, where institutions are led and controlled by a certain class of people and the socio-economic group that is interested in enriching themselves as opposed to serving the population. This group is behind the Presidential handshake on oil and their role is to cover up for the bigger handshake.
We must ask the real tough questions regarding our oil money. Over US$180 Million was stolen and that is what we should be looking for not just US$20 Million.

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October 3, 2016: Uganda Police Force blocks Forum for Democratic Change Party Offices ahead of Dr Kizza Besigye return in the country. Photo by Shawn Mubiru

 

Elections are an opportunity for the citizens of the world to appreciate those that have done well in their assignments in public offices to get re-elected or punish those that have failed to deliver as promised and expected by the electorate by voting them out of those offices. Elections put the voice of the citizen at the centre of policy formulation and implementation, but as we can see the adage of power belongs to the people in every constitution around the world especially in Africa it makes no sense anymore, elections are now rituals used by incumbents to usurp power at any cost. I will concentrate on Africa because this is where I call home and the problem has threatened peaceful handover of power and has now created dictators.

Elections no longer deliver the change for the citizens on the African continent, many countries stick with strong men or dictators as you may choose to call them, these men don’t believe that there is such a time when power can peacefully be handed over from themselves to another leader that successfully challenges the things as they are. That dream has not made sense to many of these strong men. These men prefer the power of the gun to the power of the people who come with the legitimacy to lead. They have continued to claim the popular mandate of the people but their heads are still hidden behind mean faced looking men with big guns, and armoured war trucks.

The story of our continent continues on with disappointed faces because of violence that dominates the rest of the positive side of this lovely motherland, because of greed and love for power.

We seem never to understand the lessons taken during the liberation struggles of our revolutionary men and women of our continent. We have failed as people to overcome greed that has contributed to the loss of the common good. We have forgotten that togetherness in societies led to growth and development we now practice divisions among each other and we have created classes within us and this has continued to undermine the  common good.

In my country Uganda leadership seems not to make sense at all to the led, those in positions of power seek to protect themselves from the ones they lead each day. Our Parliament now is the most guarded or secured institution in our country’s history. Gone are the days when you would easily walk to Parliament to catch the plenary of men and women who loved and did put Uganda first. Our electoral management system is still questionable by the political opposition and civil society that is why we have over 100 Parliamentary electoral petitions in the Court of appeal.

The 2014 National Consultation for Free and Fair raised a number question in our electoral system and the leadership, but the proposed then were all rejected by the Museveni administration.

In February 2016 Uganda went to elections, rejected by all they did not get a clean bill of health to declared them as called free and fair elections until now. Without discussing what really happened in the Presidential elections voices from different Civil Society groups under Women’s Movement are calling on the ‘appointing authority’ to give them a seat at the table so that they can take part in the same mess. With due respect, we have a problem with the way elections, the solution cannot be a new ‘saviour’ at Electoral Commission but reforming the entire management of our electoral system and how to conduct our elections. People should hate it or fear to talk about it, we have a rigged election in between us, we have a presidential candidate who is not free in his country. We have an illegitimate government armed against the people. The problems at hand can only go away when we are free  and choose to talk about the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary election mess. We have to audit ourselves on what took place and forge a way forward that only puts Ugandans at the centre of all discussion making.

Uganda is heavily laden with a rigged election and a regime armed against its people. The future is bleak the economy is limping, social services are at its worst and with rampant corruption and an environment in a red alert.

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Africa Blogging Team discussing Social Media Shut Downs in Africa. Photo by Shawn Mubiru

My recent visit to Berlin, Germany to attend the Republica 2016 was graced with equal measure of surprises and great impressions that for the most part met my expectations. The keynote speech at Stage one was memorable. The founders took us down memory lane and gave emotional speeches of how far they had come to get to where some of us who were first time participants joined the world wide family of bloggers. The security was watertight and the pomp that surrounded the Conference was splendid. The first impression my mind registered was that this was going to be very good and I looked forward to the first day and entire conference.

The first day at the Republica was quite tempting and as a blogger from the African continent I had to choose between watching a live broadcast of Edward Snowden and attending the discussion on Social Media Shut downs in Africa. On my way to Berlin, I left my homeland limping out of a highly disputed General election and the country was grappling with the post electoral trauma. The Forum for Democratic Change, a party to which I subscribe, was also defying the whole electoral process outcome on account of mismanagement. Due to the fact my home country was a fresh victim of Social Media shutdown; I wanted to listen to my brothers and sisters from the continent to get an experience of what they were going through and perhaps share my experience with them as well. Those who were on the stage represented us well as Africa Blogging!

Being at the Republica did not only come as an opportunity for me to experience how other bloggers manage to have their opinions read and heard but also a chance to learn from fellow bloggers about a great deal of intolerance to voices of dissent exhibited by some governments. Listening to bloggers like Johnny Haeusler, one of the founders of Republica, ushered me not only into his humility but also his ingenuity that has seen him nurturing his newest idea tincon.org for the young people in Germany.

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Berlin Wall Memorable Photo by Anthony Masake

The Berlin tour left me with an excellent but a challenging impression. I came to the realisation that in order for a nation to prosper, it must jealously guard its history and those experiences whether good or bad will be the shining stars that will determine where that nation wants to go. The Berlin Wall, Stasi Prison and the House of the Wannsee Conference all showcasing the level of intolerance a people can develop against a certain group of people all happened but for a reason. The people of Germany will never hate themselves again as much they love what they are and stand for as a nation.

Guided through the Deutscher Bundestag, I could not help but marvel at the wonderful display of art and architecture which not only leaves a mark on every person’s mind but is a sign of the good workmanship of the people of Germany. As I read “A walk round Parliament and its buildings” I was not only amazed by the magnificent buildings around but by the Parliamentary democracy of Germany. The power that Bundestag has is guarded and protected for the good of Germans and not the ruling party. To me, a blogger focussing on the Concept of rule of law and democracy I was enriched by the way Germans govern themselves.

Back home in Uganda our Tenth Parliament commenced Parliamentary business by receiving bribes to elect a Deputy Speaker who belongs to the National Resistance Movement (NRM) yet the NRM boasts of having the majority in the house. It was quite evident that having big numbers in the house was no longer a guarantee of an outcome. My first impression of the tenth Parliament of Uganda triggered the question whether Parliamentary democracy was still relevant in Uganda. It is going to be a long five year wait for reason to prevail again.

Even as Rosa Whitaker is detached from the realities of the Ugandan people, she has miraculously made herself an expert on Uganda’s affairs.

To begin with, Whitaker needs to humbly disqualify herself from the position of an expert on Africa because her lack of knowledge and disinterest in the plight of the African in this case Ugandan people deny her the title. Unknown to her, the Ugandan voters braved long queues under the scotching sun or under heavy rains to choose their leader only to be denied of their victory. The aftermath of the general elections are a clear manifestation of what sham the election was.

Now in Whitaker choosing to rely on “officially tallied votes” and independent opinion polls to claim the election was not stolen is an insult to the Ugandan voters. If Whitaker cared to know, she would have informed herself that the tallying process was largely questioned for lack of transparency and the discontent with the tallied results is not hard to find if you search for it. For instance election materials were delayed in opposition strongholds with ill intention and many voters were denied the chance to vote or their vote was falsified in the tally but that does not matter to Whitaker. Perhaps it would have done Whitaker some good to study all the Election observers’ reports and also acquaint herself with the situation pertaining in Uganda before rushing to endorse the stolen election.

The people of Uganda have unresolved issues concerning the rule of law, human rights and governance of their country and that is why there are relentless calls for dialogue and reform. There would be no calls for change if the majority of the Ugandan people were happy with the breakdown of the social services amidst human rights violation, flagrant abuse of law and poor governance.

Whitaker seems to suggest that she knows what Ugandans voted for, apparently peace and stability. If Mr. Museveni had not overthrown a validly elected government in 1986, perhaps there would have been no political instability to talk of. He is the very one who having lost the 1980 election declared war on the legitimate government basing on mere allegations of vote rigging that have never been independently confirmed to date. Therefore Mr. Museveni’s claim of delivering peace and stability when he is the very one who caused the instability is self defeating. Aware that Uganda has never had a peaceful change of government, Ugandans rather largely voted for peaceful change of government since thirty years down the road; Mr. Museveni has not delivered the peaceful change of government that Ugandans deserves.

The ignorance of Whitaker needs to be put to rest. Dr. Kizza Besigye, the Opposition’s flag bearer has never expressly or impliedly threatened even in the slightest form to overthrow the regime through violence. It is for statements such as these that expose Whitaker’s sheer lack of knowledge on the situation in Uganda.

Personalising the fight against terrorism in Somalia and making it a Museveni issue is absurd. A peaceful Somalia is not a one man cause. Just as the Ugandan troops are fighting to pacify Somalia, so are the armed men and women of the Kenya Defence forces who are fighting as well to pacify the region. In any case it is the good will of the people of Uganda that has contributed to the accomplishment of the US interests in Somalia.

Whitaker was quick to criticise the American diplomats who followed the European Union and walked out on the inauguration of Mr. Museveni, whom she refers to as a respected African leader. Well, if the so called respected African leader commanded respect, then he would have conducted himself so respectfully that there would have been no need for the walk out. In all honesty, a verbal attack on one’s own invited guests using local dialect reeks of disrespect, should be frowned upon and is alien to the African culture and values. In Africa, we warmly welcome visitors but if for any reason they feel unwelcome they do not have to pretend and be hypocritical to keep up appearances. Thus the walk out was far from theatrics. Whitaker would have preferred that Bruce Wharton and Ambassador Debora Malac sit through an unwelcome environment, in simple terms to pretend that all is well, very hypocritical.

Whitaker ought to know the implications for a State to ratify a treaty. Uganda ratified the Rome Statute and the people of Uganda have never through Parliament declared that they want to get out of operations of the International Criminal Court. In fact Uganda handed over Dominic Ongwen, one of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel leaders to the Court and he is currently being prosecuted in the same court for war crimes. If Uganda cooperated with the Court in that regard, why not cooperate with the Court when it comes to the Crimes against humanity that were committed in Darfur region of the Sudan? By sheltering Omar al-Bashir from the Court isn’t the so called respected African leader exhibiting double standards?

According to Whitaker when she was in government, she had explicit instructions to lobby African countries not to sign the Rome Statute. It seems she was not up to the task and largely failed in her job to lobby to the African countries because not just Uganda signed the Statute but a whole host of African countries.

For Whitaker’s information the walk out on Mr. Museveni’s inauguration was no insult to Africa and certainly not to Mr. Museveni. The lawyers have a saying that those who come to equity must come with clean hands, meaning if you want good to be done to you, do good. If you want fairness, be fair. So Mr. Museveni’s undesirable remarks squarely entitled him to the actions that followed.

Oh UgandaI wish i could play back time and see what it was like to get Uganda from the colonialists. Ooh Uganda

I wish i could play back time and see how the 1966 Lubiri attack was like. Ooh Uganda
I wish i could play back time and see how 1980-1986 war was like where 500,000 lost their lives fighting for a free Uganda Ooh Uganda

I wish i could play back time to see mothers and children wiping away their tears thinking good days were back. Ooh Uganda

I wish i could play back time and see men and women gathered ideas to make a constitution that would help all of walk in the path full of light Ooh My Uganda

I wish i could play back time and see the same men and women signing off this sacred book with laws that were meant to give opportunity to all Ugandans, Ooh Uganda..

I wish i could play back time and see 2005 when we tore those safe guards from the same constitution all for vanity, yeah and pride of men in 5 million Uganda Shillings, Ooh Why us Ugandans?

I wish i could play back time and see 18th February 2016 when the right to choose leaders because fight to select them. How can i forget 20th February 2016 when the whole country went silent mourning its defilement. O0h Why Us Ugandans?

Saturday was a good day to wind up the week and as NRM aspirants thronged Plot Kyadondo road, returning their nomination forms to fortify their intentions to stand for various political offices on the NRM ticket in the forthcoming general elections. As fate would have it, Steeplechase Champion Dorcus Inzikuru jumped into the fray contending to represent the Youth from the Northern Region in the 10th Parliament.

Dorcus Inzikuru during the 3000m Steeplechase race.

Dorcus Inzikuru during the 3000m Steeplechase race.

Dorcus Inzikuru needs no introduction as far as athletics is concerned. Notably, Ugandans will always remember her as their darling girl who won a Gold medal after a long drought following the John Akibua (RIP) remarkable golden medal win in the 1972 Olypmics.  

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Delegates wave Uganda Flags as an act of togetherness at the National Consultation on Free and Fair Elections at Hotel Africana

Delegates wave Uganda Flags as an act of togetherness at the National Consultation on Free and Fair Elections at Hotel Africana. (Photo by Shawn Mubiru).

The year  2005 will go down the annals of history as a year of deep-seated betrayal of Uganda’s constituents by their elected representatives. In 2005 an important piece of principle was deleted from our Supreme law. Parliament in its wisdom or lack of, through Constitutional amendment removed the legal provision that barred a President from holding office for more than two terms. The framers of the Constitution had acted with foresight to include the clause for it would have ensured that no single President holds office until his or her voters get tired of voting him or her, in other words indefinitely.  The framers knew that no single individual should be solely responsible for fostering the country’s development forward for it is no mean task and it is the responsibility of every Ugandan. The framers knew that good governance is not a preserve of the Western countries and so they laid ground to propagate it here. The framers knew too well that the clause would foster harmonious transfer of power from one President to the next to avert any Political crisis having learnt from our turbulent political history. The framers were also aware that ten years is such a reasonable time to cause economic, social and political development if one strongly wished to do so.

However, some leaders chose to throw all caution to the wind by removing the clause allegedly in exchange for a paltry 5 million facilitation, to the detriment of the entire country. If that is not selfishness then I do not know what selfishness is.  When allegations of bribing our legislators by then became reality, we the citizens did not help matters. Lazy as we have proven to be, we sat on our backs but continued to complain about the issue and of course doing.

10 years down the road of complaining about how an important principle was and deleted out of our Constitution, our curses have not yielded much. It is now 14 years of complaining as to how the elections we have held as a country have not been free and fair since 2001 – to date. Do we want the help of our mothers in Amuru to take on the dictatorship through another show of their naked bodies?

Now that there are new allegations of deleting another piece of principle from our law on the age limit of the president, we are busy engaging in complaining rather than bold taking steps to stop this nonsense from happening again in this country . We as a people have exhibited the highest sense of patience to our elected representatives. We pay their salaries and allowances. Even when we know that the majority of them do not even attend plenary, we have continued to do nothing about it. They continue to take their voters for granted in the hope that they will please them with bars of soap and kilograms of sugar every once in 5 years!

The incompetent Electoral Commission as referred to by a High Court in a 2001 ruling  has proceeded to organize another sham election to ‘anoint the emperor’ for 5 more years. It is unfortunate that there are people who believe that they can stagger into a well-known sham election and win it. Through that sham election, some people will find their way to Parliament and will again take on the legislative mantle that may see them messing with our Constitution again. Some of our brothers and sisters argue that they have to contest not because they want to represent us, but because they want to get paid. As Hon. Paul Mwiru did put it many have turned into Parliament of Uganda as their cash cow hiding the pretence of representing Ugandans.

The signs are bold and clear enough that even the Kiggundu Team is not aware of what is going on with the 2016 electoral process. We are but moving with sacks on our heads to a journey we do not know and this is the pretence we have subjected ourselves to for decades. If we know that it is a sham process, then why are we engaging Ugandans to participate in a process that has been abused time and again?

If it our right to have a regular free and fair elections why have we relegated ourselves to just but clowns that simply nod heads but do nothing but only complain? What good will the next generation remember of us? Perhaps this generation will be remembered for organising Goat races, Dog shows, Blankets and Wines picnics, Beach and the like.

Ugandans enjoying Goat Races at Speke Resort Munyonyo

Ugandans enjoying Goat Races at Speke Resort Munyonyo

If your name was on a National Voters Register in 2001, 2006 and 2011 who has a right to strike you off that register when you are still alive? Under which law has the Electoral Commission exited from the old register into their new register? There is no better way to put it than a complete sham electoral process.

Even a country like Burundi that came from obscurity just yesterday can at least stand up for their rights; they know that all it takes is to say NO to unfair changes in their laws. But Ugandans have absorbed all kinds of insults and abuse for over 30 years. How much anger will it take for us to stand up against democratic injustices?  There are no better words to use than sounding warning about this coming presidential elections; if it is not free, then it cannot be fair! This is our election why do we always have to make it seem like this election can happen because Museveni wants it to happen as he wishes? The election this time will happen because we want it to happen in manners that serve our constitutional rights not because one man wants to be crowned.