On the challenge of building modern democratic state

Sunday January 6 2019

Harold Acemah

Harold Acemah 

By Harold Acemah

At the beginning of a New Year, many people make “new year resolutions” to focus their attention on specific goals for the next 12 months. Instead, I would like to address the challenge of building a modern democratic state in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa. I am cognizant of the fact that many Ugandans and organisations have attempted to define Uganda’s fundamental problems and offer solutions to solve them. For the UPC, Uganda’s fundamental problems are ignorance, poverty and disease.

In 1986 when NRA guerrillas grabbed power, they introduced a blueprint called “Ten Point Program” which outlines what in NRM’s view are the major problems facing Uganda. Point No.1 deals with the lack of democracy in Uganda. In addition, the sole proprietor of NRM argued at the 1986 OAU summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that Africa’s problem is leaders who overstay in power. Using his own yardstick, one can argue that he is now an African problem and by inference Uganda’s problem. He has also argued that one of Africa’s problems is “ideological disorientation” whatever that means.

In an incisive, pertinent and timely opinion published in the New Vision of December 25, 2018, titled Surrender your life to Jesus, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of the Church of Uganda argued that, “fundamentally, Uganda’s problems are spiritual. We have allowed evil to flourish in Uganda, at all levels, including our families. This is why we have made the past two years in the Church of Uganda the Year of the Family.”

Uganda’s ruling elite has sadly played a leading role in the despicable, rampant and shameless practice of witchcraft and idolatry in our country. Two senior officials, both baptized Christians, were not long ago, caught red handed on camera and in broad light paying their allegiance and respects to the devil at satanic shrines in gross violation of the Ten Commandments of God. These are not isolated cases. Many Ugandan politicians and businessmen routinely practise witchcraft without fear and shame. Cry the beloved country!

The appointment of an avowed practising and shameless witchdoctor as a Cabinet minister speaks volumes about the appointee in a country whose national motto is, “For God and My Country.” God does not take kindly to such outrageous and wicked deeds.
It’s an abomination hence unacceptable! As I have argued previously in this column, there is something intrinsically evil and satanic about the callous and despicable actions of the corrupt, greedy and tribal ruling clique which has been imposed on Uganda, by force and deception, for more than years!

Some challenges facing Uganda today
The first challenge is mediocre and poor leadership, especially the lack of good, honest and principled leadership in the political sector. Under the 1995 Constitution the President of Uganda is head of State, head of government and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, but what we have in place is a reincarnation of a 19th century paramount chief who, in his own words, is “not a servant of anybody” but a freedom fighter fighting for himself and his beliefs which is clearly a violation of the oath of office he took in 2016. Uganda deserves better!
As head of government, one of their major functions is to chair the regular and other sessions of Cabinet which plays a central and key role in public administration. In Uganda, Cabinet is more often chaired by lesser government officials who do not have the mandate and powers to do so.
Second, the building blocks of a modern democratic state are public institutions which under the separation of powers operate independently of each other and are not appendages or rubber stamps of the executive branch of government. Parliament, Judiciary, Public Service and political parties are among the building blocks of a modern democracy. For an African leader to deliberately seek to emasculate, undermine and eliminate any of these public institutions is tantamount to destroying democracy.

Thirdly, citizens of modern democracy are not servants of political leaders, but their employers and masters. In Uganda, some political leaders have tried to reverse these roles and behave as if citizens are their servants, subjects and slaves! It’s unbecoming and totally unacceptable. No society can build and forge a modern democracy under such ridiculous and primitive conditions.

The struggle for democracy continues!

Mr Acemah is a political scientist and retired career diplomat.
[email protected]