By Rukiya Makuma
NRM gets a poor report card on democracy and governance
The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) government’s performance in the first year of its fourth elected 5-year term has inspired public indictment, with many saying that it was not on track to meet the promises it made in the election campaigns.
According to a citizen-based audit the NRM’s 2011-2016 manifesto, released on May 29 by the Uganda Governance Monitoring Platform (UGMP), NRM’s performance on democracy and good governance, human rights and justice, fell short of what was promised in 2011.
The audit, driven by a network of NGOs that provide a platform for public assessment, was designed to monitor government’s performance on promises made in the manifesto in the areas of good governance, economic management, agriculture, youth empowerment, education and health.
The report argues that the brutal suppression of civil protest and drafting of laws like the Public Order Management Bill and the Uganda Communications Regulatory Bill over the last one year had undermined any success in maintaining peace, security, law and order.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission annual report says human rights violations increased by 29 percent over the last 12 months with reported cases increasing from 797 to 1,021.
The audit also found that though government said it was determined to prosecute all people involved in corruption scandals, it has not strengthened the investigative and prosecution capacity of anti-corruption agencies like Police, Parliament and the Judiciary to handle new and more sophisticated forms of corruption.
A major concern raised in the report regards the failure to amend the Constitution to strengthen institutions of governance, including the office of the Inspector General of Government, to reinstate presidential term limits, reconstitute the Electoral Commission and amend electoral laws.
Inconsistent economic performance, budget cuts in priority sectors like health, education and agriculture, and widespread poverty and unemployment, are also said to be a cause for public grievance.
NRM’s Deputy Spokesperson Ofwono Opondo called the audit report “unfair”, arguing that it was based on one year of a 5-year term and too early to conclude that the party would not meet its promises. Opondo argued that the party had done well in many sectors and would meet most of its promises by the end of its five-year term.
To this, UGMP Chairman Professor J.B. Kwesiga replied that most of the commitments were not new but had been re-invoiced every five years for the 26 that the party has been in power.
Beti Kamya, party President of the Uganda Federal Alliance, said instead of concentrating on where the NRM is going wrong the researchers should have channelled energy to discuss the causes of and solutions for poor service delivery.
Kamya said the public was to blame as well for not forcing the prosecution of the corrupt, and therefore encouraging the impunity that allows powerful people to amass personal wealth form money meant to deliver public services.
She said in a country with a president as powerful as Museveni – the sole employer and benefactor, it is hard for other bodies to do their work.But the report did not only limit itself to the NRM, but the opposition as well, which it said needs to concentrate on a few key areas including pushing credible and realistic electoral reforms that will ensure a fairer election in 2016, reduction of public spending and mobilisation of public positions on key policy concerns.