By Muhwezi Joshua Lawel
If there’s anything Opposition parties agree on it’s the idea that there’s need for this country to establish strong and functional institutions, that they should have some level of autonomy to function over and beyond individuals or parties in government. Government structures as established by the legal regime must live to the authority, duties and responsibilities as elaborated in the constitution, acts, ordinances and other shelters of laws governing institutions.
The opposition has for long disabused tokenism, the idea that you can just gather youths and give those cash as a opposed to finding a holistic approach on how to deal with the situation that reduces them to beggars that instead of working to get money as returns from their efforts they open their hands to just be given.
This can be done through first utilizing the available structures like the line ministries adjusting their failed policies so as to be able to reproach the challenges with more compatible solutions or the legislature passing enabling policies to redirect the implementers.
Now I don’t know if it’s because the current opposition members of parliament are products of a political wave, that they have decided to pursue a populist approach at the expense of focusing on their prescribed duty, they have formed a new wave which is a direct replica of Musevenism ‘tokenism’.
Instead of dealing with the cause they choose massaging the symptoms. This has for long worked for Museveni because he takes advantage of the dire conditions that are of his own making ,that because he has made them so poor he manages to play to their direct needs which are a meal that day , some little money for the next day and honestly for someone who is not guaranteed of a meal , all you need is to give him what can take him throughout the entire week for you to appear a savior , it’s in this vicious circle that somehow Museveni has managed to continue winning elections from the vulnerable regions of this country.
I don’t know if that is sustainable but somehow the people of Busoga and the urban poor generally seem to have risen beyond it. The tokenism from Museveni can no longer seem to work on these aggrieved people; he seems not to know how to deal with them except continuing to suffocate their capacity to express themselves.
But guess what Museveni does not need to unleash his state machinery or squeeze his think tanks anymore for a solution to deal with this block because his tokenism strategy is still working difference being that its being implemented by different players , it’s no longer directed from Nakasero but Kamwokya, the new opposition are conveniently appealing to the direct needs of these aggrieved people , providing a weekly relief to the people who are not assured of tonight and this in turn gives them the popularity , shields them from the broader questions on how these people find themselves in this situations , they weaken the very authorities that clearly give them the power and prescribed to them their duties while everyone is smiling at them.
It makes it impossible to hold them accountable based on their mandate because they have been able to bribe those who ought to hold them accountable based on that very mandate, the very game play that sustains this regime.
The issue of mandate has been at the core of oppositions stand for decades up until this new wave , when the NRM members sought to increase their terms in parliament the resounding argument by the opposition which turned ought to be successful was that the constitution prescribed only five years and therefore the social contract with the voters was presumed a mandate of five years , when the regime is throwing money around in campaigns , the opposition and more civically awake members of society argue that candidates should account to the population what they have done based on what its expected of them as per their mandate as opposed to voter bribery.
So now, if the opposition MPs are giving out posho, milk and more of the kind how then shall we ever hold bribers again when they give out the same, indeed the social contract with the voters was that these MPs would legislate, supervise government programs , observe accountability , if all these are ignored for distribution of tokens what then becomes the fate of the mandate presumed in the social contract. If this is not further ruining our country what is it?
The institutions in our country as I earlier stated have clear boundaries, what we have always grappled with has been the capacity for us to let them function on their own without sabotage from the very government which is supposed to support and enable them, the overreaching hand of the president through using them to have his way around things, through creating alternative bodies that downplay the existing ones, change seeking people belong to the school of thought that institutions must be bolstered to match what is expected of them instead, unfortunately at the point when the legislature starts to execute the roles of the local councils or other structures of the executive we undermine those very structures , we distort the very autonomy and separation of the arms of government , we blur the line that distinguishes them.
We have legislators like hon. Ssegirinya Muhammad who have capacity to fill in the gaps of service delivery like provision of relief and other public services, what exists in these circumstance is that these individuals have a lot of lobbying power, they have capacity to complement government however this does not give them responsibility of assuming the roles and duties of other government organs, they are legislators before they are anything, let’s face it these individuals are much needed for our grappling populations but we achieve the same result if they can lobby these services and pass through the available organs to deliver them, in other words they can deliver without having to undermine the very institutions which they seek to build.
Muhwezi Joshua Lawel
The writer is a social and political critique
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