Mr Ruzindana, a memo on the need for radical reforms

Sunday October 20 2019

Asuman Bisiika

Asuman Bisiika  

By Asuman Bisiika

Mr Augustine Ruzindana was Fronasa’s chief political commissar and field operative (that means spy). Actually, he was Fronasa’s detailed field contact with the Rwenzururu Kingdom army in the 1970s. Don’t laugh, this is a fact.
From January 1986 to date, Mr Ruzindana has worked as Inspector General of Government and Member of Parliament. After the CV (Constitutional Volongoto) of 2005, he decamped from Mr Museveni and was later to be one of the ideological anchormen and women for the formation and registration of FDC (Forum for Democratic Change). He is now in semi-retirement (but tired).
On October 9, Ruzindana published a post on Facebook in which he said: “Italy, with a population of 60.5 million, has reduced the number of MPs of the Lower House from 630 to 400 and the Senate from 315 to 200. This will save €81.6m per year.” He wondered whether this could be replicated in Uganda.
To reduce the size of Parliament, we have two models for constituting a Parliament. These are numerical representation and proportional representation. In numerical representation, we fix the number of people to constitute a constituency for parliamentary representation. In proportional representation, we fix the number of seats in Parliament and political parties share the seats based on their votes earned.
The numerical representation model (where say 500,000 people qualify to be a constituency) has been overtaken by administrative units, that inherently qualify to be represented in Parliament. Whenever a district is created (readers must be familiar with the districts epidemic), Parliament is increased by a minimum by two MPs. Since population doesn’t seem to be one of the considerations for the creation of new districts, it would not be surprising to have MPs representing an electorate of about 30,000 people.
And our NRM brothers, in their eternal and fatalistic pursue of regime survival, have reduced parliament (which was supposed to be the vortex of the democratic culture) to a mere appendage of the administrative function of the State. There is a clear need for shifting the paradigm from the (now non-functional) numerical representation to a parliamentary constitution solely purposed for supervising government’s administration’s actionable delivery of services to the population.
The sole purpose of Parliament should be the causing of an environment where the administration (executive) delivers services to the population. And we don’t need 1,000 MPs to do that. We, therefore, propose a Parliament with 100 seats; 50 of which should be directly elected MPs. The remainder (50 seats) should be political party nominated MPs. My NRM brothers, can this idea earn me lunch at State House? For the directly elected MPs, their constituencies would be based on the districts of Uganda as at Wednesday April 11, 1979. We allow for some adjustments (just in case we didn’t have 50 districts in April 1979).
With 50 MPs directly elected from constituencies, the remainder 50 would be returned in a proportional representation format. This is how: All political parties participating in the elections would offer or declare 50 parliamentary candidates. In the selection (or electing) of those candidates, parties would be compelled to consider affirmative action for marginalised groups like women, workers, disabled, youth, etc.
A party leader whose political party gets 2 per cent of the total vote automatically becomes an MP (among the proportional representation MPs). And an independent presidential candidate who gets 2 per cent of the total vote would automatically become an MP.
And a political party goes for elections as a party (not as a platform for a presidential candidate). A party leader whose party has more seats constitutes the government; but can only constitute a government with the support of at least 51 MPs.