Commentary

Amend the Constitution instead of mourning over its consequences

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By Beti Olive Kamya

Posted  Thursday, December 5   2013 at  02:00
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For a lasting solution to Uganda’s political problem, we must examine the big picture, instead of piece-meals. Today it is Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, yesterday were sagas of Benjamin Odoki, Aronda Nyakairima, Rebel MPs, recall of Parliament, Pius Bigirimana, Oil and Petroleum / Public Order Management / Divorce and Marriage Bills, Temangalo, GAVI, CHOGM, Federo, presidential term limit, etc.

After Lukwago, there will be more face-offs between the Executive and State institutions. But that is not the problem.

The real problem is our inability to recognise that the piece meal controversies are not isolated but integral parts of a big problem, for which a full-scale war needs to be proactively waged, instead of reacting to isolated controversies, with small battles! Hovering over each controversy is always the invisible, omnipotent presence of the President.

The 9th Parliament was lauded as a breath-of-fresh-air, with a no-nonsense Speaker. Half way down the road, it is as impotent as its predecessors, because the presidency is so empowered by the national constitution that it simply suffocates other institutions.

The Constitution of Uganda is arranged in 19 Chapters:
Chapters 1, 2, 3, 17, 18 and 19 are informative and passive, not actionable. Of the remaining 13 actionable Chapters, 12 mandate the President to appoint the policy makers, supervisors and administrators of relevant sectors, hence, to manage:
• Chapter 4 (Rights and Freedoms), President appoints Human Rights and Judicial Service Commissions, Chief Justice, Justices, Judges, Inspector General of Police & Commissioner General of Prisons;
• Chapter 5 (Representation of the People), President appoints Electoral Commission;
• Chapter 6 (The Legislature), President appoints Clerk to Parliament and 20 per cent of parliament i.e 10 soldiers and 80 ministers;
• Chapter 7 (The Executive), President appoints ministers, RDCs, Presidential Advisors, Ambassadors, and has mandate to create any office s(he) deems necessary (like “Desks” in State House)
• Chapter 8 (The Judiciary), President appoints Judicial Service Commission, Chief Justice, Justices, Judges, Chief Registrar, Registrars, Attorney General, Solicitor General, DPP, Prerogative of Mercy Committee,
• Chapter 9 (Finance), President appoints Minister of Finance, Secretary to the Treasury, Governor of Bank of Uganda, Commissioner General of Uganda Revenue Authority and proposes how national cake should be apportioned
• Chapter 10 (The Public Service), President appoints Public Service/Education Service/Health Service Commissions, Permanent Secretaries and public officers above the rank of Head of Department.
• Chapter 11 (Local Govt), President appoints CAOs
• Chapter 12 (Defense And National Security), President is Commander-in-Chief of armed forces and appoints / promotes leadership of army, police and prisons.
• Chapter 13 (Inspectorate of Govt), President appoints Inspector General of Govt
• Chapter 14 (Leadership Code of Conduct) - administered by Inspectorate of Government
• Chapter 15 (Land and Environment), President appoints Uganda Land Commission, National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), National Forestry Authority, National Wildlife Authority
• It is only Chapter 16 (Institute of Traditional And Cultural Leaders) where the President does not have direct influence.

President M7 has used this constitutional mandate to appoint mainly NRM cadres and supporters, hence his clout. I believe anyone in his position would do the same!
Patronage, dictatorship and sycophancy in Uganda emanate from the constitution, hence the need to amend it, rather than mourn over its dire consequences, which will continue, as a vicious circle, unless the problem is uprooted from source.

Ms Kamya is the President Uganda Federal Alliance.
ufapresident@gmail.com