Age limit: Should MPs listen to electorate or their party?

Just before Mr Godfrey Mutabazi shamelessly banned media houses from live broadcast of the age limit debate on allegation of “inciting the public, discriminating, stirring up hatred, promoting a culture of violence…” the world had watched the unforgettable scenes that will forever mar the image of Parliament under Speaker Rebecca Kadaga

Ugandan parliament. The nature of consultation being carried out by MPs leaves a lot to be desired. FILE PHOTO 

BY BONI ODO

IN SUMMARY

  • The media is saturated with ministers and MPs being vituperated and ominously attacked by those who voted them hitherto. Could it be because they have turned their backs on their voters in order to appease one man who once said that the problem of African leaders is that they stay long in power (paraphrased)? It’s preposterous for some NRM leaders to assume that all those who subscribe to the togikwatako crusade are Museveni’s nemeses.
  • To our MPs, I leave you with a Gaelic aphorism, “there is no greater fraud than a promise not kept.” What definitely counts is not which party has the majority members in the parliament, but whether our parties truly reflect the voices of the people. We the people petition to be respected and represented above the party.

The last time I read the 1995 Constitution, it contained the article postulating that “All power belongs to the people, who shall exercise their sovereignty….” This concept is the foundation upon which the entire Constitution rests. Thank God Article 1(i) has not been sent to Oboth-Oboth’s crew for consideration.
Just before Mr Godfrey Mutabazi shamelessly banned media houses from live broadcast of the age limit debate on allegation of “inciting the public, discriminating, stirring up hatred, promoting a culture of violence…” the world had watched the unforgettable scenes that will forever mar the image of Parliament under Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.
It is unfortunate that Mr Mutabazi did not read the notes from the late Justice Joseph Mulenga’s ruling on the case of Charles Onyango Obbo & Anor v Attorney General in 2002. Nonetheless, a few days later, Parliament was suspended and MPs sent to consult their constituencies on the controversial Article 102(b) that would bar the current President from seeking to run for president unless “amended.”

The nature of consultation being carried out by MPs leaves a lot to be desired. I watch on TV how some MPs dish out “consultation” money and even coercing some people to join them. But I am reminded of a Chadian saying: “When the village chief himself goes around inviting people to a meeting, know there is something wrong with the system.”

It is ironical that this editorial pits people against their party of affiliation. If I were to advise any Member of Parliament, I would advise them to listen to the voices of their people and not their party. They owe their allegiance to the people that voted them. Some of them woke up very early in the morning even before the polling stations were opened and patiently queued under the scotching sun to exercise their franchise and voted them.

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They are in Parliament not because they were the best or the most suitable candidate (it could be), but because their constituents thought it was their time and chance to be voted. I am reminded of the adage - “opportunity strikes once”. Do not negate those voices echoing from the constituencies. Like Apostle Paul extrapolated: “You reap what you sow.”

Three weeks before Martin Luther King was assassinated, he told his audience in Grosse Pointe that riot was the voice of the unheard. Those neglected voters have mastered the art of kicking out MPs who take their votes for granted. I have witnessed ministers and MPs who were loyal to their party, but who were rejected by their voters using the ballot.
boniodo@mail.regent.edu

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