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GEORGE MUHIMBISE: Can the MPs In The Eleventh Parliament Raise The Standard High?

By Muhimbise George

While at a retreat in Kyankwanzi at the beginning of this term, President Museveni threatened to remove Parliament through a referendum if they sabotaged his programs mockingly saying that they spend all the time raising points of order rather than debating the real issues! Whereas I didn’t buy his view, I find our Parliament slowly degenerating into a comedy theatre!

Last month there were two motions in Parliament; one intending to censure Hon Jim Muhwezi the Minister of Security as a protest for the ongoing reports of torture of innocent citizens by security officials & another one intending to remove Hon Francis Zaake from Parliamentary Commission because of allegedly insulting the Deputy Speaker of Parliament on social media.

Whereas I won’t discuss the legalities of the two motions on table, I will focus on the thinking & politics behind the two motions!

The motion to censure Minister of security was intended to exert political pressure on government so that it can account for the actions of torture by its officials. Of course given the circumstances, it was deservedly an attempt to kick in the bush to see what comes out given the visible state capture in our country!

This certainly would have been a national & bi-partisan debate, given that the victims of torture are not necessarily those who oppose government. The popular Nalufenya prison was known when the then NRM Chairman Kamwenge District And Mayor Kamwenge Geoffrey Byamukama was tortured nearly to death on allegations that he was linked to Kaweesi murder! Many tortured suspects especially in the same murder were neither political activists.

Unfortunately the motion on torture failed to gather the required signatures & flopped yet the motion to remove Hon Zaake from Parliamentary Commission gathered over 200 signatures in a week!

In the wisdom of these MPs, it is necessary to defend the right of the deputy speaker from being insulted on social media than to defend the rights of many Ugandans languishing in prisons facing unprecedented torture & inhuman treatment!

Majority of these MPs are PHD and masters degree holders, schooled in the best universities, human beings with blood, purportedly passionate about humanity and religious people who occupy front seats in our synagogues!

They have set a high moral standard that disqualifies the likes of Zaake from sitting on the Parliamentary Commission, yet they have no standard on issues of national importance like torture, corruption, impunity, economy, state capture among others!

The same MPs will miss Parliament or rush abroad for sports activities when oil bill is being discussed, cruise in guzzlers consuming millions for fuel on potholed roads, increase their emoluments when hospitals lack medicine etc.

Because they have no standard, many are being motivated by sycophancy, trying to win the eye of the deputy speaker in order to earn trips abroad & other favours. The executive in turn has decided to use them as rags & their institution as a walking stick!

Gen Museveni will find no reason to inform them about the deployment of UPDF in DRC or the conflict between Rwanda and Uganda, he would indeed inform his son, rather than informing a “useless” Parliament!

Whereas it was unfair for Zaake to use derogatory language against the Deputy Speaker, attempting to remove him from Commission as a punishment is like using a gun to kill a housefly! A simple dialogue between the two, or within the Parliamentary Commission would have sorted the differences and Parliament would go for important issues! What MPs are doing is centralizing marginal issues & marginalizing central issues or minoring on the major and majoring on the minor!

Even the Deputy Speaker allowing the country to be diverted into such a debate, she is not exercising leadership. If she is doing so to exert her influence, without a strong parliament, she is simply turning herself into big crocodile in a small pond!

Our MPs should be reminded that they have a country to legislate for, that in the next 25 years we shall have a population of 100m people and they need to be planned for, that we have millions of youth who need jobs, that the world is advancing at a terrific speed and we can’t afford a Parliament that is senile! We certainly deserve better, and it’s not too late!

Muhimbise George, 0787836515

The author is a member of Alliance for National Transformation

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