What you need to know:
- Although Chapter Seven of the Ugandan Constitution does not explicitly state whether the President’s actions are legal or illegal, they give the public a significant amount of leeway because, aside from petitions for the presidential election, he is not subject to trial while he is in office. A big issue the Legislature should think about is to streamline the President’s roles.
“I will take you and meet the big man”, “I know someone who can help us meet the President at State House”, have become the second-best options for solving challenges after Our Lord’s Prayer in Uganda, on the part of believers.
Recently, a widow in Mpigi District was forced to leave her property. In a last-ditch effort, she appealed to President Museveni to intervene and resolve the situation. Citizens in eastern Uganda recently cried out for the President’s assistance as the torrential rains washed away their gardens and other property.
Many meaningful and meaningless incidences have happened to Ugandans and they never called the responsible government agencies but instead called the president’s intervention, which I don’t agree with.
Prof Amukowa Anangwe writes in his chapter titled “Public Service and Development in East Africa” in the book Politics and Administration in East Africa 1994 that for any system to be considered effective, the government must grant it complete independence to carry out its duties without disruption from the supreme organs; disruptions interrupt its operation and later, masses forfeit trust in its exercises.
So, how did we ,Ugandans, centralise every challenge to only a president-aided solution or his acting ‘ultra vires’ beyond his powers, which he does by breaking the law?
Although Chapter Seven of the Ugandan Constitution does not explicitly state whether the President’s actions are legal or illegal, they give the public a significant amount of leeway because, aside from petitions for the presidential election, he is not subject to trial while he is in office. A big issue the Legislature should think about is to streamline the President’s roles.
Yes, the President has intervened on many occasions; by setting up commissions and committees that would make inquiries, although most times they are ineffective and many government officials undermine their authority and some of their recommendations are shelved.
The commissions don’t only evade the work of different ministries and government agencies but rather show that even the President doesn’t trust his 37-year-old system; many would as well think otherwise it’s a political move to settle the overriding public interest on a particular matter.
Why did the President set up the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters in 2016 headed by Justice Catherine Bamugemerire yet we had the Ministry of Lands, district land offices, and boards that are catered for by the Constitution? He also set up the State House Anti-corruption Unit, and yet we have the Inspectorate of Government.
The President’s pledges are steadily growing and shockingly with low avenues of fulfilling them. On July 14, Ms Madiinah Tebajjukira published an article in a local newspaper saying the National Resistance Movement (NRM) plans to fulfill the presidential pledges made by their national chairman. She said President Museveni’s pledges amount to about Shs4 trillion.
On April 6, this newspaper published a story citing a 2015 report indicating that the President had not delivered on 817 pledges to Ugandans, which would cost more than Shs12.9 trillion. Should we all believe this explains the enormous State House budget of Shs454 billion and the presidential donation envelope of Shs157 billion? Or have we as Ugandans developed the begging culture ‘President Atuyambe’ loosely meaning the ‘ President should come to our aid’?
Does it also justify the President’s handshake of the brown envelope, which has promoted a ‘begging culture’ and an aura of urgency among citizens to meet the President?
It is very hard now to find masses facing a challenge and they don’t call on the President for assistance and his intervention. Should we assert that the head of State has lost trust in his own 37 -year- old system?
The author, Mr Eriah Lule is the communication assistant of Uganda Christian University (UCU) Alumni Association. [email protected]