What you need to know:
We, therefore, suggest a parliament with 100 fixed seats, 50 should be directly elected MPs. The remainder should be party-nominated MPs.
On Wednesday October 9, 2019, Mzee Augustine 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.
Mr Ruzindana has a long and envious CV of political consciousness and leadership. He was Fronasa’s chief political commissar and field operative. Actually, he was Fronasa’s detailed field contact with Rwenzururu Kingdom army in the 1970s. In 2005, he was one of the political luminaries who founded the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).
Now, from our hideout in Kiburara, we have learnt that Parliament is (or may soon be) kicking off the process of a constitutional amendment that would provide for Members of Parliament to procure (or choose) the President of Uganda.
We ask: what national need or problem is this proposed constitutional amendment supposed to cure? For me, this proposed constitution amendment should be driven by the need to reduce the number of parliamentary seats. I don’t know how the legal guys may reach this but here are my suggestions.
To reduce the size of Parliament, I suggest two models for constituting a parliament. These are numerical representation and proportional representation.
In numerical representation, we would 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 from the general election.
The numerical representation model (where, say 500,000 people qualify to be a constituency) seems to have been overtaken by administrative units who 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 of 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.
The main purpose of Parliament should be the causing of an environment under which the administration (Executive) delivers services to the population. And we don’t need 1,000 MPs to do that. We, therefore, suggest a parliament with 100 (yes, one hundred) fixed seats (constituencies); 50 of which should be directly elected MPs. The remainder (50 seats) should be party-nominated MPs. In this way, we would be promoting the political party as the vortex of championing of democratic progress.
For the directly elected MPs, their constituencies should be based on the districts of Uganda as at Wednesday April 11, 1979. We could allow for some adjustments on this to accommodate the new cities. 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 party-nominated candidates, parties would be under compulsion to consider affirmative action for marginalised groups like women, workers, disabled, youth etc.
A party leader whose political party gets 2 percent of the total vote should automatically become an MP (among the proportional representation MPs). And an independent presidential candidate who gets 2 percent of the total vote would automatically become an MP. In our proposal, a political party would go 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.
Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of the East African Flagpost. [email protected]