The Leader of the Opposition in Uganda’s Parliament Winnie Kiiza has said that opposition parties should not be viewed as enemies of the ruling government, but as an organ with an advisory role.
Kiiza said that the opposition is a government in waiting’ and should not be classified as being against government programmes.
“On many occasions we have worked with the government; the challenge is that we are perceived as those whose role is that of criticizing government. People do not tyhink that we can work towards providing solutions to the challenges we bring forward,” she said.
Kiiza made these remarks at a seminar on Strengthening the Role of the Opposition in Parliament for Effective Governance and Oversight, in Accra, Ghana, from 6th to 10th March 2017. The seminar is organized by the African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs.
She added that the opposition ensures that services are effectively and sufficiently delivered without necessarily wasting resources.
“When we criticize the issue of education for all, we don’t refuse the aspect that there should be education for all Ugandans,” Kiiza noted. She added that, “however, there should be free but quality education. Can you make the cost affordable even for the poorest of the poor so that there is equal opportunity for all Ugandans?”
Kiiza then urged Ugandans to consider the opposition as their greatest ally.
“ I look at someone who advises me as their friend; I don’t look at that person as an enemy most especially if that person is looking at the weaknesses that I have because when you point at my weaknesses, you want me to be better,” she added.
She called on the ruling party to listen to them if they have to deliver services effectively, “especially if the policy benefits all Ugandans”.
Defence and Internal Affairs shadow minister Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala) however, expressed anxiety about the population’s perception that if the opposition is working with government, then they have been compromised.
“This has undermined the spirit of cooperation because the opposition fears to be perceived as a compromised entity,” he said.
He added that the government should also be faulted for creating the impression that if the opposition is cooperating then they have been ‘taken’. He added that the country is at a loss on the development agenda if this is not understood and addressed by all the stakeholders.
“There are issues that are non partisan, where we can find a middle ground and build a win-win situation. The winners in that situation are the people, but they themselves undermine that possibility by saying, whenever the opposition works with government they are compromised,” he added.
He said opposition politicians who have publicly supported government programmes have for long been accused of being in cohorts with government even by their own parties. This has often led to mistrust among members of the party or the Opposition in general.
The seminar is aimed at improving the capacity of opposition parties to hold government to account, promote and stimulate debates in parliament and how to work with the media and civil society to ensure good governance.
The delegation to the seminar also includes Angeline Osegge, Anne Adeke Ebaju and Santa Alum. The team also includes four technical staff from the Office of the Leader of the Opposition.