My humble advice to FDC: Respect the spirit of your party constitution
Posted Thursday, October 10 2013 at 01:00
In the struggle for constitutionalism, we cannot point fingers at NRM but close our eyes where other parties are involved, especially FDC, for the simple reason that most opposition supporters have invested their trust in the party...
I am constrained to offer unsolicited counsel to FDC as the party endeavours to settle their leadership wrangle, because they seem to compound earlier mistakes with more mistakes, as if they do not have a constitution.
Under Chapter 5, Article 11(iv)(d), it is the function of the National Delegates’ Conference to elect party office bearers every five years. However, Chapter 6, Article 28(i) envisages the occurrence of vacancies upon death, resignation, dismissal, bankruptcy and inability of office bearers, as happened in 2007 upon the death of Prince Vincent Kimera, the FDC vice chairman from Buganda and Dr Sulaiman Kiggundu, the national chairman.
Under Chapter 5, Article 12.2, it is a function of the national council (not the National Delegates’ Conference) to “Elect interim office bearers to fill a vacancy…”, implying that filling of a vacancy is an “interim” measure that must be undertaken, awaiting the National Delegates’ Conference, whose mandate it is to elect office bearers for the full term.
When Kimera and Dr Kiggundu died, in contempt of the constitutional provision that national council should “elect interim office bearers….” FDC NEC appointed Yusuf Nsibambi and John Butime, both party vice chairmen, to replace the deceased! Ironically, the duo’s appointment was announced during a national council seating. The scheduled National Delegates’ Conference was convened two years later and Mr Sam Njuba was elected party chairman, for a full term.
I contested Butime’s appointment on grounds that NEC did not have constitutional authority to fill a vacancy by appointment, that being the prerogative of national council, through elections. As I was interested in the position myself, and since the national council sat anyway, we should have had an election as provided for under Article 12.2. Not a single FDC leader of influence then supported the constitutional position, but conspired under Chapter 6 Article 28(iii), which says “If the vacancy cannot be filled by reason of any constitutional requirement, the office shall be filled by the next senior personnel in rank” – but national council sat and transacted all other business, except the elections, because they were left out of the Order Paper! This became the bone of contention between me and the party in which I had invested my ideals. It was also the basis on which I was eventually expelled from the party.
Five years later, the resignation of Dr Besigye created a vacancy, but FDC had learnt no lessons from the past. Yet again, they ignored not just the constitutional provision but also the precedent they had set of appointing the next in rank, in which case, this time round, Salaam Musumba should have been appointed interim president instead of the election which, once again, threatens to tear up the party! Mind you, in 2007, it was just myself on one side and the party on the other, but now, with the party is split right in the middle, it could be bad!
In the struggle for constitutionalism, we cannot point fingers at NRM but close our eyes where other parties are involved, especially FDC, for the simple reason that most opposition supporters have invested their trust in the party, so they deserve honesty and constitutionalism because that is where NRM has failed them.
It is a pity that leaders of FDC continue to interpret the constitution in terms of their various interests. My humble appeal to them is to seek and respect the spirit of their constitution, then Gen Mugisha Muntu will lead for the remainder of Dr Besigye’s term, which runs from February 2009 to February 2014, as they prepare for the next National Delegates’ Conference, to elect the next president.
Ms Kamya is a founder member – FDC. firstname.lastname@example.org