The incoming speaker should return the country to the right democratic path
Ugandans elected over 530 persons to represent them in the 11th parliament. It is quite a large parliament. So much has been said about the negative implications of the size of parliament in comparison with the economic status of the country but it does not seem to make sense to the top leaders of the country. Of great concern is the cost of maintaining a large number of members of parliament yet service delivery in the education, health, roads sectors is in a very poor state.
Uganda is among the poorest countries in the world but it also known to be one of the most extravagant in terms of spending and management of resources.
Parliament is a key institution in taking decisions that guide the running of a country as the actions and pronouncements they make greatly impact on the lives of the people. The newly elected members of the 11th Parliament of Uganda have a task of making laws and providing oversight on the way the affairs of the country are run. The leadership of parliament plays a great role in determining and directing the decisions made. The members of the 11th parliament will be choosing a speaker. The question is do we have the right persons for the positions of a Speaker and Deputy speaker of parliament? Of course the answer is yes since there are over 500 members to select from. However information around and voices being heard are for returning the incumbent speaker back to the office while the incumbent deputy speaker is warming up to become the speaker. Undisputedly, the two honorable persons are suitable for the position of speaker but it might be important for members of parliament to make a deep reflection on this matter.
The current deputy speaker in 2005 led parliament into lifting of the presidential term limits when he was the Chairperson of the Legal and Parliamentary committee. I recall several submissions were made on this matter warning of the dangers of lifting the presidential term limit partly because it was not necessary at the time, given that the matter had not been tested and that it seemed to be subjective. Also, among others, the warning was to the effect that it will be easy for a president at the time to manipulate the framework and keep into power for life. What is happening in the country today is a product of the decision that the chair and members of the committee made and which is not far from the warnings made earlier. People have died, many have been maimed and are struggling with disabilities, several are languishing in prisons and others are bed ridden in hospitals or their homes. This is happening to silence voices demanding for change.
The current speaker has been praised for being an excellent performer and she has vast unequaled experience in running the speaker’s office and parliament but studies have shown that sometimes, too much experience and staying long in an office may not give room for innovation and breeds too much confidence which may lead one to begin taking things for granted, hence prone to making mistakes. Critical in her reign as speaker is the way she presided over the lifting of the presidential age limit. Several voices sounded a NO to the removal of the age limit but under her leadership, the house changed the law. It is not news to anyone that the current governance crisis in the country is directly related to the action by parliament.
Unless otherwise advised it is believed that the decision get the country on the desired democratic path was in the hands of the two honorable members. If the presidential term limit had been maintained, the country would perhaps be due to witness a hand over from one president to another. Certainly if the age limit had been maintained as well, the same was due to happen. What the Ugandan parliament needs today is to elect a confident, principled, firm, courageous and a strong speaker capable of working or deciding without the influence of the reigning principle leadership. Ugandans are tired of timid, sycophants and selfish persons appointed to such important positions. The country needs to move forward with systems working without being bent for the benefit of some individuals. It is only a person determined to disregard personalized influences and discriminative and selective instructions that should take the seat of a speaker. This person will set a base for peace and tranquility which will be a path to progress.
John Mary Odoy-Senior citizen and promoter of good governance and respect for human rights
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