It sounds preposterous but the world must move on from the small battles about human rights’ abuse, police brutality, electoral malpractices and corruption, because those are automatic consequences of autocratic rule. Show me dictatorship, from time immemorial, and I will show you those vices. Uganda has suffered oppression, brutality and lack of accountability for over 130 years, yet, save for temporary relief that comes with the occasional change of regime, our suffering has continued. Surely, do we so lack imagination that we cannot work out that the solution to Uganda’s problem must be more complex than mere regime change? Museveni will go at some point, as did colonialism, Mutesa, Obote 1, Amin, Lule, Muwanga, Obote 2 and Lutwa, but if conditions that turned those once idealistic revolutionaries into dictators continue to exist, his successor, be it Beti Kamya, will become a dictator and will visit on us the vices for which all past leaders are hated, because they (the vices) are automatic products of dictatorship! We must move onto the big war and fight conditions that create dictators, instead of fighting offshoots of dictatorship.
“All power belongs to the People…..who shall express their will and consent on.…who shall govern them through elections….” says Article 1 of the Constitution of Uganda. “There shall be a President of Uganda…” says Article 98. “All executive authority of Uganda is vested in the President…” says Article 99. Hence, Article 1 gives power to the people, but Article 99 takes it away from them and gives it to the President.
In exercise of the executive authority given to him / her by the constitution, the President decides how the national resources are used, appoints the Vice President, Prime Minister, Ministers, Chief Justice, Judges, Ambassadors, Heads of Govt Depts and their deputies, Permanent Secretaries, Resident District Commissioners, District and Regional (in the case of the “Regional Tier”) accounting officers. The President appoints Commanders of the armed forces and promotions are his prerogative. Uganda’s constitution makes the President the sole employer, provider and benefactor. Give Angel Gabriel this kind of power and Heaven will have a problem, because too much power is the main ingredient that makes dictators. Police brutality, human rights’ abuse, electoral malpractices and corruption are logical consequences NOT the cause of dictatorship.
Uganda’s sustainable peace lies in re-designing the governance system that gives State House too much power, having been so deliberately designed by its pioneer occupants, to exploit a colony without being accountable. It was of necessity undemocratic, dictatorial, oppressive and exploitative. This is the system we inherited at independence but have not dismantled, so it remains oppressive and exploitative, as it was designed. Mind you, this is not the system the British use back home, where the objective is to serve, not exploit!
UFA is advocating that Ugandans, without firing a bullet or throwing a stone, evoke Article 255, through which they can recall their power for one day, and through a referendum, dismantle the autocratic system, devolve power to the regions and re-instate presidential terms limit, because, surely we have learnt that mere change of regime will be another change of guards, as has happened eight times, since independence.
Heads of functioning democracies such as the USA, UK, Germany, Canada, Australia, and the Nordic States do not have such power as the President of Uganda. Kenya woke up to this fact and have redesigned their constitution, significantly reducing the powers of the president. In Malawi, if the late President Mutharika had powers to fire the Vice President, Joyce Banda, having disagreed with him, would not be President today. In South Africa, the ANC was able to force President Thabo Mbeki to step down! Uganda must to wake up and move with the new democratic order and Article 255 provides the cheapest route!
Beti Olive Kamya-Turwomwe
Uganda Federal Alliance