Uganda continues to sit on the fence of dictatorship.

With the declaration of a fundamental change 28 years ago, Uganda made remarkable improvement but has since moved full circle back to the same position. It is now apparent like before, that that persistent governance problem is still with us. This is not only political but endemic in the economic, social and other sectors. Ms Betty Kamya convincingly argues that our problem is constitutional since like its forerunner, our constitution contrary to article 1(1) therein, entrusts all power with a president who is also under 98(1), erroneously declared a fountain of honor (in a non-feudal society) thus literally placing the country’s fate in an individual’s hands! With the exception of pontiffs, a contemporary elected head of state is never a fountain of honor, rather (s) he is a servant of the people heading a formidable team that leads a country on which (s)he is a first among equals. In a flawed argument on this critical matter, Ms Sarah Bireete (Daily Monitor September 8, 2014) of the Centre for constitutional governance, insists that Uganda’s problems are weak institutions and not constitutionally rooted presidential powers. Defending the constitution, Bireete points out that it does not empower a president to act alone anywhere. She picks on Parliament as “a classic example of how weak institutions and the people representing Ugandans in these weak institutions are the problem in advancing Uganda’s democratic agenda BUT not the constitution”. The above argument doesn’t answer the key question of what Uganda’s problem is that Bireete raises for It certainly can’t be the people that comprise institutions since these have continuously changed over the years. She is also dead wrong in asserting parliament’s failure in performing as a body charged with protecting the constitution and promoting good governance. This is a duty for all citizens at which parliamentarians alone can never succeed as long as Ugandans continue sitting on the fence. Perhaps we could pick a leaf from Tanzania or Kenya that also had imperial presidencies and have had to contend with governance challenges over the years. Such an undertaking requires a constitutional efficacy audit and comparative analysis of the three legal documents deployed by people with a similar background, in the same community and striving (or hoping) to answer other than ducking the big question of synchronising their governance to fit in the same body politic. But Bireete would have none of this. She contends that “the ideal situation is that if one came up with an adequate constitution it would provide the basis for good and democratic governance but in Uganda’s case, this school of thought overlooks the impact of a country’s historical and social conditions that have conspired to create undemocratic and exclusionary processes.” She contends that “Uganda’s constitution was made in the most democratic manner possible that is unprecedented in its participatory character” then (by a seeming stroke of luck) stumbles onto the lacuna of missing out on nominated delegates in a society where the elected are as wanting as the electors. Being unprecedented doesn’t mean nothing better can emerge. Uganda needs to free herself from the firm grip of that invisible hand that grabbed her on September 8, 1967 when the pigeonhole constitution came into force.

Advertisements