Thursday February 13 2014

Presidential powers must be trimmed

Ugandans who were adults during the time President Museveni took over power in 1986 must be wondering what has become of the regime. During his inauguration, there was that famous quote, that it was not a “mere change of guard but a fundamental change”. Ugandans and the international community wholeheartedly embraced the regime despite several domestic policies like the devaluation of the shilling and the barter trade scheme.

Many laggards including the writer, gave a benefit of doubt to the regime, with steadfast hope that after the promised three years, elections would be held to usher in a government with the mandate of the people to get the country out of the bottomless pit in which it had been plunged by the previous regimes.

This was the onset of the impunity we are witnessing today. Leaders started an orchestrated move to dangle very well packaged political maneuvers to extend the tenure of the regime in power with seemingly pertinent causes. Like an ace chess player, the regime having got their ill-motives sail through undetected, the government carried out what arguably was the only credible general and presidential elections of 1996.

After this term in office, it dawned on many Ugandans that they had been duped into unreserved support for a regime with an egotist character, ulterior motives and unwavering ambition to serve a particular class of Ugandans. Some daring and foresighted Ugandans stood up against their erstwhile leader who single handedly claims to have a vision for this country!

Having realised, the cropping up dissent was not going to be “a nine-day wonder” but a thorn in the flesh that would perhaps cause regime change, the regime resorted to coercion and oppression of political opponents and encouraging impunity with acts of condoning abuse of law such as the infamous 2005 invasion of the High Court by black mambas, lifting presidential term limits, using the numeric strength of the NRM members in Parliament to enact laws like the Public Order and Management Act which police is using selectively to gag the opposition from expression, exerting undue executive power over the Judiciary to the extent that the Attorney General, some ministers and other government officials remorselessly disregard court orders, etc.

It is indisputable that Ugandans have never witnessed peaceful regime change, it is this very fact that all and sundry are craving. What we need to do now, is not to focus on 2016 elections but to put in place laws that will disentangle the president from the unlimited power.

Chris. M. Kato,
CMK Events Solutions