By Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi, Veteran Journalist
THE IPOD summit is scheduled for this Friday, March 5th, 2021 at Kololo Independence Grounds. According to NRM Secretary General Justine Kasule Lumumba, the current chairperson of the Council of Secretary Generals of IPOD member political parties; high on the agenda is the post-election analysis and Public Order Management Act.
The event will be presided over by the current chairperson, President Yoweri Museveni, NRM National Chairperson, and President
IPOD is a club of political parties that are represented in parliament, which are different from numerous briefcase parties some of which are bought and sold during electoral seasons, the latest from the market being former NURP now NUP.
Initially, even parties that fielded presidential candidates had also been part of it, including Beti Kamya, of the then Uganda Federal Alliance, however, they zeroed on parties represented in parliament. While in the past it was an affair of NRM, FDC, DP, UPC, and CP, later when Ken Lukyamuzi and her daughter Suzan Lukyamuzi lost in Lubaga South, Justice Forum came in because of Hussein Kyanjo in Makindye East. It had also been lost until Asumani Basalirwa came representing Bugiri Municipality.
Past summit meetings were held in State House Entebbe and Speake Resort Beach Munyonyo, among others. Opposition parties wanted a neutral ground, and the best avenue is Kololo Independence Grounds.
For some years, FDC is one of the active members, especially when it comes to external funds through IPOD, but when it comes to holding public meetings, it shies away to give an impression that it is not part of the government as parliament is the second arm of government. FDC also wants to give an impression that it is not part of the Loyal Opposition that is in Parliament enumerated by the government using taxpayers’ money.
Under a defiance strategy or tactic championed by its “Ayatollah: Dr. Kizza Besigye, FDC pretends that it is an anti-establishment party, yet it is part and parcel of government. Earlier attempts through People’s Redemption Army (PRA) UNDER Col. Samson Monday and Lt. Col. Anthony Kyakabale did not go well in equatorial forests of the Congo basin, where many of the recruits were eaten up by the Lendu, and a few were rescued by a UPDF battalion commanded by the Col. Kale Kayihura whose spokesperson was then Capt. Felix Kulayigye.
Much can be accomplished on a consensus through the IPOD. However, what was agreed in the past and presented to the speaker of parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga in 2013, had never been operationalized. One of which was for the First run-up in the presidential election to be the Leader of Opposition in Parliament. It is a sort of proportional representation as is the case in South Africa.
As Parliament is debating a private constitutional amendment by Wilfred Nuwagaba (MP Ndorwa East), among which, it is to replace a Vice President with a Deputy President that should be a running – mate with the President as is the case in Kenya and Tanzania, some members were heard last week, as saying that the first runners up should be a Vice President.
That is unconstitutional as it will be killing a multi-party dispensation where there should be a loyal opposition as an alternative government with alternative policies. That can come only in a power-sharing arrangement when there is no party with majority seats in parliament.
Other features in the Nuwagaba bill include the restoration of presidential term limits, ministers not to double as MPs, which the committee rejected. Now that age limits are out of the constitution, term limits should be restored for a post-President Yoweri Museveni era as it will start operating from 2026.
The worst was for the Legal Affairs Committee to smuggle again the extension of a normal life of presidency, parliament, and local government councils to seven years. It is too unpopular and some Francophone countries that were seven years switched to five, and a few countries like Egypt that are seven years are not popular liberal democracies.
Since Ugandan leaders are reluctant to groom successors saying that Uganda is not a monarchy but a republic, presidential candidates should have running – mates, who should be seen as their future successors.
Although Niwagaba wants UPDF representatives out of parliament, they should be neutral and sit at the center where NRM rebel MPs used to sit, as earlier suggested by Nnalongo Cecilia Atim Ogwal (FDC Woman MP Dokolo)).
Many ministers especially in Buganda Region lost their seats both in party primaries and in general elections because they were rare in constituencies. For proper separation of powers and checks and balances, and improvement on service delivery, ministers should not double as MPs.
The cabinet should be strict of only 21 ministers, and state, deputy, and or assistant ministers should also be strictly 21. Instead of having regional ministers, the Regional Governments Bill should be debated and passed and Regional Governments are out in place as they are enshrined in the Constitution. IPOD should pronounce itself on all those matters.
The writer is a journalist by profession and a Communications Assistant with Government Citizen Interaction Center (GCIC), Ministry of ICT, and National Guidance.