Zziwa – Reaping What We Sowed [editorial]

Asked to comment on the suspension of Margaret Zziwa, the embattled speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), while appearing on a radio talk-show last Saturday, President Museveni said he had learnt that Uganda’s representatives were behind the scheme to oust their colleague.

He accused the Ugandan team in Arusha of being “childish, infantile and petty”, and spoke of the need to ensure more mature representation next time. While we agree with the president that the quality of Uganda’s representatives this term generally leaves a lot to be desired, it must be said that Museveni and his political party are simply reaping what they sowed.

Over the years the nine EALA positions that Uganda, like other member states, are supposed to fill, have become a lifeline for politicians who lost their seats in previous elections. It is, therefore, not surprising that almost all of Uganda’s current representatives, including Zziwa, have been MPs at home and only moved on after losing elections.

Yet apart from the fact that elections for EALA representatives are held in Parliament, the two assemblies have totally different functions and, therefore, human resource requirements. Thus the only explanation for failed MPs being keen on EALA is that these are politicians looking for a job, any job, as a fallback position after losing the race for their most preferred job.

Admittedly, there is nothing that stops a former MP from representing Uganda in EALA. However, they ought to have a CV that suits the bill, and having been an MP and lost elections is not a particularly essential requirement.

The president and his political party acquiesced to and presided over the election of the current crop of EALA representatives, happy that their supporters who had lost elections now had jobs. They were not bothered by the quality of representation Uganda was getting.

Now the chickens have come home to roost but not before Uganda’s name has been dragged in the mud. Zziwa’s woes are, therefore, a blessing in disguise. Uganda needs to take the duty of picking her EALA representatives a little more seriously.

It’s highly unlikely that some of our previous highly-regarded representatives such as Yona Kanyomozi, Mugisha Muntu or Sarah Bagalaaliwo would have engaged in such pettiness.

Source : The Observer

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