Stalled legislative agenda, rifts, and post-election campaigns beg for action
Kampala, Uganda | IAN KATUSIIME | On Jan. 11, Bobi Wine, leader of the National Unity Platform (NUP), presided over a meeting of his party caucus at Busabala Beach outside the city to draw a roadmap for 2022. Top on the agenda was the overarching goal of the party: how to remove President Yoweri Museveni from power and how to move forward building the credentials of NUP as a political organisation in a tense environment.
In attendance were NUP top honchos; secretary general Lewis Rubongoya, Leader of Opposition (LoP) Mathias Mpuuga, and Opposition Chief Whip John Baptist Nambeshe.
The retreat took place amidst accusations by some supporters that the party was not doing enough for its incarcerated followers, taking decisions without consulting the rank and file, and rumours of moles within the young party. Some NUP MPs have been accused of hobnobbing with the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) to the detriment of the leading but nascent opposition party.
Last year NUP’s agenda was stymied by election year events and, for some watchers this is the year when NUP should attempt to walk the talk on what it wants to do.
A day later, Bobi Wine was asked about the supposed rifts between party supporters and legislators at a press briefing at the party headquarters in Kamwokya.
“That is the propaganda of the regime. However we should also not dismiss every rumour,” Bobi said. He appeared cognizant of the fissures that can tear apart a party whose members can be bought off by a government willing to bribe, arrest, intimidate and take all possible action to weaken the party.
Rubongoya, secretary general of the NUP, said the party’s agenda this year will not be new.
“The struggle to remove Museveni- every effort will be geared towards that,” he said.
Rubongoya conceded that the legislative agenda of NUP cannot amount to much with the still ongoing arrest, kidnaps and violent atmosphere they are operating in.
The sentiments of Rubongoya and the non-parliamentary leadership of the party are at odds with Mathias Mpuuga, the LoP, who is still intent on pushing through a legislative agenda for the party to make a mark in parliament in spite of some its MPs being in confinement.
In August last year, Mpuuga launched the NUP legislative agenda which has electoral and political reforms, security, Economy, employment, health and education among its core pillars. One of its stated aims is on changing how the Electoral Commission works.
“To further guarantee the independence of the electoral commission, we shall pursue amendments that will ensure public selection of its members through a process initiated by the Judicial Service Commission,” the NUP proposal states.
“Uganda Law Reform Commission, Uganda Law Society and Law Development Centre, which are all statutory bodies with a mandate of advising government on areas for law reform, have continually recommended for the independent sourcing of commissioners and the need to clearly spell out the qualifications of the commissioners,” the document stated.
NUP’s other stated constitutional reforms include review of special interests groups representation, army representation in Parliament, procedure for presidential appointments, modalities for creation of constituencies and the mechanism of restricting the military to its primary roles and obligations.
Even as the party launched its 17-point legislative agenda, Speaker Oulanyah offered a dose of reality for the new party saying NUP must synergise with the rest of the House for the achievement of collective objectives.
“Let us keep an eye on the ball; the ball is not regime change, but the change in the lives of the people; regime and country are two different things. Let us work together as a Parliament and make a difference in the lives of Ugandans,” he said.
As of now, the NUP agenda appears stalled as NRM-dominated parliament determines the agenda of the House. The NRM has already started testing the waters by mooting a proposal to have the parliament elect the President as opposed to universal adult suffrage.
NUP MPs like Derrick Nyeko of Makindye East, who The Independent spoke appeared in a dilemma on how more aggressive they could get to push for their party’s intended reforms in the eleventh parliament with an overbearing Executive.