Friday March 7 2014

It is time for national conference on the political system in Uganda

By Augustine Ruzindana

The reactions to and comments on my last article were mainly on the part of the title that posed the question “What is unique about homosexuals?” but not on the article content. This part of the title was not mine; it was inserted by the editors. My criticism of the international community was and is that they are inconsistent when they go up in arms against one law against the rights of one minority when so many other repressive laws, like the Public Order Management Act, were passed and the same international community are complicit by their silence.

This is how I put it “Over time a repressive security state was established with the connivance of those now loudly protesting against the violation of homosexual rights. It is, therefore, a glaring contradiction that some powers to have been tolerant of repression and intimidation of the political opposition, rigging of elections, rampant corruption and then turn round to express outrage when a regime becomes consistent and passes laws unfavourable to a sexual minority”. I also wrote that “I do not support this anti-homosexual law, which in any case reproduces already existing provisions of the Penal Code and some other laws that are not being enforced”.

I went further to point out that I oppose this law because “it may be used against political opponents” in the same manner as the rape charge against Dr Kizza Besigye in 2005 and the homosexual charge against Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia. My point is that the international community should consistently and vigorously oppose all repressive laws and all acts of maladministration and theft, plunder and waste of public resources.

To defend human and fundamental rights, it is necessary to understand the Ugandan political system. In a situation where we have two political systems, a predominant “Movement System” side by side with a nominal “Multi-party System”, naturally confusion reigns. This contradiction arises from the fact that the Movement, which is in charge of the management of a multi-party system, does not subscribe to the principles of multi-partyism. Article 73 (1) of the Constitution provides that “…during the period when any of the political systems provided for in the Constitution has been adopted, organisations subscribing to other political systems may exist subject to such regulations as Parliament shall by law prescribe”.

This is where the problem lies. The Movement-dominated Parliament has never prescribed the regulations on how the Movement should continue to exist under a post-2005 multi-party system. Thus NRM continues to be referred to as the Movement and remains part and parcel of the State and clings to State structures such as Local Councils as its party structures. The latest evidence of the fusion of NRM and State is the assignment to the minister for Mobilisation the party responsibilities of the NRM Secretary General, who is himself the Prime Minister.

Already, the duties of the NRM chairman are carried out in State House, the treasurer is also Minister for Trade and Industry for obvious revenue mobilisation access reasons. The NRM mobilisation activities in the district is a responsibility of resident district commissioners and the identification of electoral polling officials is carried out by ISO operatives and the superintendence of the electoral process comes under the control of security agencies under public cover of the police. For confirmation we have now been informed that even internal NRM struggles come under investigation by the security agencies and it is these intelligence reports that are being used against the NRM Secretary General.

Clearly, the way forward out of the current confusion is a national conference about the political system we have or should have in Uganda.

Mr Ruzindana is a former IGG and former MP.