Thought and Ideas
An angry president is a frightening president
Posted Sunday, February 10 2013 at 02:00
He permits the Inspector General of Police to appoint, deploy and promote all police officers at will and sometimes on personal levels.
There can be no doubt that a lot of Ugandans are frightened by the bouts of anger publicly exuded by the President. Many Cabinet ministers, Army and police officers and the public generally do not like what they hear or see reported about President Museveni. Many people keep away from meetings he attends and those who attend do not do so out of love and devotion but out of fear and self- preservation.
Today, the people of Uganda are divided between those who hope President Museveni will vacate the presidency sooner rather than later and those who fear what will happen when he does. The President’s strange behaviour and utterances have generated much fear and uncertainty.
During the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly that promulgated the 1995 Constitution, many delegates counselled for a smaller and manageable Cabinet.
Delegates who feared to be left out of a smaller Cabinet shouted loudest and won the debate for the unprincipled idea of a huge Cabinet. The President worsened matters by nominating and forcing onto this small and impoverished nation a huge Parliament, Cabinet, advisers and security personnel far beyond the financial and manpower capabilities of Uganda.
Today, we have a Parliament of nearly 300 members, the majority of whom are idle, underemployed and under utilised. Idleness and receipt of fat salaries and allowances lead to conspiracies, rebellions and defiance.
The majority Members of Parliament have no seats or room to stand when Parliament is in full session. Consequently, many of them choose to do personal or non-parliamentary business. The President and his advisers have no idea about what many MPs do outside its formal meetings.
It is fallacious for anyone to think that the more supporters a government commands in Parliament or that having a big Cabinet, the more secure will the government or its leaders be or its programmes proceed smoothly. Often, the contrary occurs; such large numbers not only become a handicap in governance but a burden to the country.
To make matters worse, the belief the average Ugandan has today is that very few if any, of these mostly faceless public employees do any actual work or give advice that is of any good. Ugandans only hear that the President is the only one working and making decisions.
The President is depicted as the only minister and decision maker in every department of government. He nominates, vets, recommends, appoints, promotes and sacks every minister, public official, permanent secretary and other government employees whether big or small. He appoints senior officials and others, whether strangers or relatives, in all sectors of government. He meets and interacts with foreign envoys and negotiates, approves or disapproves public contracts.
He gives away public land and insists that structures are built in public places that are zoned for other uses. He is the jury, judge and executioner of public works.
He appoints and promotes army cadets to ranks higher than those of veterans or long serving seasoned military men and women. He permits the Inspector General of Police to appoint, deploy and promote all police officers at will and sometimes on personal levels.
It is never reported that the IGP consults or seeks the advice of the Permanent Secretary or the Minister of Internal Affairs. The President plays a similar role in the UPDF and no one hears it reported that his decisions or acts were in conformity with or after advice from the Secretary to the Army or indeed, the Minister of Defence.
At the same time, every Ugandan knows that in law, there are bodies and institutions such as the UPDF Council, Police Council, the Judicial Service Commission, Public Service Commission and similar, some of which are constitutionally mandated to make decisions that are binding on the appointing authority. However, out of fear, intimidation or cowardice, many of them have surrendered their powers and functions to the Executive.
Considering all the tasks and functions the President performs, no wonder many Ugandans are gravely worried about their future and of this country.
Justice Kanyeihamba is a retired
Supreme Court Judge. email@example.com