Can President Museveni stop Parliament from being recalled?
Posted Tuesday, January 8 2013 at 02:00
Press reports indicate that President Museveni recently stated at a meeting between himself and the Speaker of Parliament, that Parliament will only convene for its special meeting over his “dead body”.
This reminds me of one of the world’s greatest political leaders of all time, Adolf Hitler. When invading German troops were encircled by the Russian Army at the battle front and he was informed by his army generals about it, he said, “to hell with circumstances. I create circumstances”.
The German army was eventually defeated by the Russian forces. When the German capital, Berlin was falling to the Russians, the once great German leader entered into a bunker with his faithful mistress and a few trusted army generals. Thereafter, he ordered for the destruction of Germany’s infrastructure and subsequently doused himself in acid in a vain attempt to immortalise himself and go to the grave with Germany. Mighty Germany is still standing today!
This conveniently brings me to the issue at hand; how the three organs of government should relate, in modern times, with each other, otherwise known as the doctrine of separation of powers as propounded by the 17th Century French philosopher Montesquieu.
One of the basic tenets of democratic governance demands that there should not be over concentration of power in one government organ. Accordingly, there must be in place mechanisms that ensure checks and balances. This involves Parliament having a strong watchful eye over the executive. Such effective checks include first diffusing executive functions, to wit, Parliament makes laws, the Executive enforces such laws and the Judiciary is to adjudicate between Parliament and the Executive and/or its people.
Blacks’ Law Dictionary defines Executive power as the power to see that laws are duly executed and enforced. The United States of America’s presidential system of government from which Uganda heavily borrows its leadership structure, espouses that the role of Parliament goes beyond being merely a legislative one. In the United states constitutional case of McGRAIN V DOUGHERTY (273 US 135) Court decided that “ we are of the opinion that the power of inquiry-with the process to enforce it- is an essential and appropriate legislative function…”.
On the March 11 2002, the Irish Supreme Court held that the role of Parliament goes beyond that of a mere legislative organ. It may go to procuring the redress of individual grievances, for example, through parliamentary questions. Parliament, as a result, has inherent powers to investigate the truth about any matter of urgent public importance.”
One view is that the recall of Parliament as provided for in the Constitution to discuss issues surrounding the late MP Cerinah Nebanda’s death is not necessary because Parliament exhaustively discussed the said matter and therefore the police should be left to do its constitutional duty; that of investigating crime. The possibility of carrying out an inquest has also come into play. The other view, why Parliament should be recalled is that MP Nebanda’s death has created a lot of animosity between the two organs of government and therefore Parliament as a matter of urgent public importance, needs to discuss the said acrimonious relationship between the Executive and the Legislature. Valid reason because the rule of law rather than the rule of man should be one of the guiding principles upon which democratic society should be governed.
The procedural niceties as provided for by article 95(5) of our Constitution that provides that at least one third of all members of Parliament may in writing request a meeting of parliament and the Speaker shall summon Parliament to meet within 21 days after receipt of the request, have been fulfilled.
Shouldn’t President Museveni and the Executive, let Parliament perform its constitutional role of oversight? I think should.
Mr Walyemera is the Conservative Party president general. email@example.com