Although the NRM formally boycotted last week’s three-day consultation on electoral and political reforms at Hotel Africana in Kampala, Buliisa MP Stephen Biraahwa Mukitale (NRM), attended. Mukitale made a moving presentation that Sadab Kitatta Kaaya recorded. Below are the excerpts.
I am 48 years in a country which is 52 years of Independence and I have only seen 10 years without conflict. Therefore, [we deserve] a dialogue of this nature, which is emphasizing and hammering a point that we don’t need [a repeat of] the [chaotic] forty years we had.
Ugandans killing themselves and decorating themselves as heroes for fighting Ugandans, I think, has been the most regrettable thing.
Having said that, we must fight militarization of politics in Uganda. We have had largely militarized politics and that is [a] big problem. [At the university] Prof [Mahmood] Mamdani did define for us then, the difference between a political party and the Movement revolution.
The Movement uses leadership structures such as LC-I as its grassroots structures what do you use as political parties? The Movement uses the local governments the Movement is an armed revolution.
So, those who were in the Constituent Assembly (CA) made a mistake of constitutionalising the Movement. [The Movement] should have been a broad-based transition, period!
In 2005, we made another mistake the dialogue we are having today should have taken place in 2005. We should not have switched from the Movement system to multi-party. We required five years’ transition for the Movement to wind up, for the military to pull out of politics, with a clear roadmap, and for the parties which were in abeyance, which were in a cooler, which were castrated for 20 years to be allowed to [reorganise] and then compete after five years. So, what competition have we been having?
I am happy that this dialogue has taken a shape of not only talking about elections but even the other reforms. Therefore, we need to go back to constitutional reforms before we talk of another election.
The question of timeliness is secondary what is important is a consensus to agree on what we want our country to be for our children because the powers of the president have to be reviewed.
Do we want a Parliament ger than the president? These are the issues we should have discussed in the first place. Do we want to redefine the role of religious leaders? You see schools being killed because they have been removed from the mandate of the foundation bodies. We are only having numeracy and literacy, and missing out on the moulding and the other values which were being imparted by the foundation bodies, which are the religious institutions.
[The environment is being degraded] because the cultural institutions which would have [protected] the wetlands, forests and fisheries have been denied that responsibility. I am for a smaller parliament and a smaller cabinet, but it is also important to realize that you cannot, under the current arrangement, where a minister is a Member of Parliament.
With 70 ministers, you can take anything to that Parliament because they have the numbers. They just whip cabinet to attend Parliament and government will not lose the vote.
We already have in the Constitution a provision for a regional tier but you find that we have been creating more districts. If these resources were at the region, [there wouldn’t be] need for a ministry on Bunyoro. What I need is a g province in Bunyoro with a budget, with resources, not a ministry for Bunyoro or Teso. What we need are resources at the region.
Somebody has already said that the western [region] has been eating for the last 28 years I am a Munyoro from Bugungu which has never eaten in all these years. So, it is not true that when somebody from the north was in office, all the people from the north were eating. Our last minister was a UPC Yosam Mugenyi I have never seen an RDC, an ambassador or any appointment from Bugungu.
So, let us speak as a country let us not reduce it to regions there are also people from the west who have worked so hard, who have suffered under this government and their [wealth] has nothing to do with the NRM being in government.
I am one of the people most disappointed by the young generation when you look at the panel here, it is made of old men who joined politics in the 1960s, 70s, and 1980s. I want to challenge the young people when will you be ready to take over these political parties?
Why am I saying this? You are now criticizing the sole candidature of NRM? Who proposed it? It is the young NRM Turks, who are actually imposing it on the president. I was speaking to these young people in our induction and [asking] them, are you ready to take on the mantle of this country?
I am completely opposed to the historicals of NRM who joined politics in 1971 to fight Amin, 45 years now [how can you say] that there should be a switch from Museveni to Mbabazi [?]
Young people, what do you want? After 45 years, you want to be pro-Museveni or pro-Mbabazi that is unfortunate. The children of these people are now forty years. They [Museveni and Mbabazi] joined politics when they were 25 years why do you expect their children who are now 40 to 45 years to still be clapping for the father and his friend?
I would want to hear, not only in NRM where I come from but even in the other parties, are you ready to hand over power to the young generation?
For constitutional amendments, I did not believe again in 2005 that Uganda required a winner- takes-all pluralism. I am a supporter of pluralism but looking at where we have come NRM broad-based, or parties not working, we required a government of national unity, we required power sharing.
If FDC has 40 per cent [of the vote] it should have [the same percentage] in government. We required all the good views of my friend Beti Kamya, all these party leaders should be in Parliament such that the [former] FDC leader Dr Kizza Besigye doesn’t have to go to the streets to fight with [IGP Kale] Kayihura with whom they were in the bush.
He should be in Parliament moving as the Leader of Opposition, not to appoint somebody from among the MPs who represents a constituency. I am, therefore, happy that it is not the politicians looking for election [to power], it is the citizens, the stakeholders of this country, the academia, the civil society, the cultural leaders, religious leaders, the taxpayer who should now renew the mandate of the politicians but as we stand now, [the past] 10 years, it is a vote of no confidence for the politicians who have failed to build consensus for this country.
I thank you very much for reassuring my children. I am now a grandfather I know there is hope for [taking] power without going to the bush but through negotiations and dialogue.
Source : The Observer