Friday June 20 2014

Is it elections or ‘business’ as usual?

By Faridah Lule

I begin with a quote by Tariq Ramadan who said “national politics and elections are dominated by fear of the other, by insecurity by infection of the body politic by virus of victimhood.”

In his speech to the sixth Parliament, President Museveni said elections are a matter of life and death. why would it be so if the NRM‘s gospel is prosperity, democracy and unity.

Museveni has been the president of Uganda for the past 30 years. However, he still distributes sacks of money to locals to attain political popularity, especially towards election time. If social service delivery was on course, Mr President would not have to seek popularity through distributing money.

If corruption was not at its peak as it is, Mr Museveni would not have to buy the population for favours. In short, if institutions were working, then His Excellency would never struggle to search for political popularity by way of transacting votes for hard cash.

In 1996, for instance, Mr President promised to tarmac the road from Mpigi to Kabulasoke. It’s coming to 20 years now and this promise has never been honoured.

Recently, the minister for finance mentioned it as one of the roads earmarked for construction. Elections in Uganda have become heavily monetised as one has to sell property to invest in campaigns if they are to stand any chance-it is a do die affair.

Many of the MPs who have “bought’’ their way into parliament, for example, remain less concerned about their representational role and spend more time conjuring business deals that will redeem the money they invested in campaigns. May be this is why many of them sleep off when Mr Museveni is addressing them during the State-of-the Nation Address, year in year out.

Reading the list of bills that were passed into law, I realised that many of them were, for instance passed without quorum passed through wacky out-manoeuvers that rendered rational thinking and discussion irrelevant.
Why all this? It is because some of those in Parliament are disinterested in legislating, representing and playing their oversight roles, they aren’t in the house to perform their constitutional role but to use it as a platform to amass wealth to run in a subsequent election.

After 30 years and not much has changed, we should now aspire and act not only to have a change of guard but also to have that fundamental change that our grandfathers alluded to.