Developing the north should not be dependent on the President’s will
Posted Tuesday, February 5 2013 at 02:00
It is expected that as the Fountain of Honour in whom authority is vested, the President; very cautiously, intelligibly, respectfully and from an informed point of view, selects so aptly what to say while addressing people.
The 1995 Constitution (Article 98(1)) bestows the title, ‘Fountain of Honour’ on the President. Article 99(1) adds, “The Executive authority of Uganda is vested in the President and shall be exercised in accordance with this Constitution and the laws of Uganda.”
It is expected that as the Fountain of Honour in whom authority is vested, the President; very cautiously, intelligibly, respectfully and from an informed point of view, selects so aptly what to say while addressing people. Astoundingly, recently, as usual blaming his failures on others, speaking at the wedding of the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Jacob Oulanyah, he said: “I have always wanted to do something for that area (the northern region where Oulanyah comes from), but we were disturbed by Kony and bad leaders.”
It is a short sentence but speaks volumes. In summary, it blames rather than acknowledges responsibility for failure; it is discriminatory and carries notions of the intent to deliberately subject a people to social injustice, etc.
Well, the claim that development in the north was partly hampered by the civil war might have some truth, but there is more to that. Development is a right and so like the rest of the country, folks in the north are entitled to it.
The Right to Development was first proposed by a Senegalese jurist, Keba M’baye, in 1972. In 1981 it received legal recognition in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. And in 1986 when NRM captured power, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Right to Development. Right to Development clearly holds that the primary duty-holder is the State (Article 2(3) and 3).
Important to mention is that there is a complex relationship between rights, because a denial, abuse or violation of one leads to the violation/abuse of another. For example, gagging the Right to Development in all its forms, impacts on other rights such as the economic, social and cultural rights; right to education, right to housing, food, right to adequate standard of living, and the right to health.
A cursory look at the performance of the north in all the areas mentioned tells how the denial of the Right to Development has had far-reaching consequences to the population. Developing the northern region should not be dependent on the President’s will. It is not a luxury. It isn’t a favour. It shouldn’t be perceived as an act of benevolence. No. It is a right to which all Ugandans are entitled regardless of tribe, clan, ethnicity, party affiliation, place of birth, etc.
Additionally, despite having seen a severe dissipation of their livelihood asset base during war, the men and women from that region, from scratches, strenuously work and pay all the forms of taxes without exemption or complaint. They do this in the spirit of building their Nation. Now if, they fulfill their obligation to give Caesar his due, don’t you think they also have a right to claim what is due to them?
It is well known that peace and development go together. You cannot count on having one without the other. Therefore, denying the region the opportunity to develop means denying it peace. Peace doesn’t mean the silence of the guns. In fact, the continued images of structural violence (poor education results, high maternal mortality, child malnutrition, heightened suicidal acts, and returning abductees without hope about their future) are a big threat to the community.
By the way, are the powers that be aware or concerned that 300 members of the Pubec clan are still held up at the former Internally Displaced People’s camp in Mucwini in Kitgum District? Are those people happy? Do they have peace? Does anyone know what their next move might be?
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan observes that “roughly half of all the countries that emerge from war lapse back into violence within five years”. The question is: Is it easy or possible to manipulate these people and mobilise them for chaos? Yes. Do we need war? No. I challenge Parliament to have as a core concern the debate about the plight of these people when it resumes in this week.
Mr Asiimwe formerly taught Organisational Studies at Makerere University.