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Lessons for Baganda from Kenya

By Kavuma-Kaggwa

Political coalitions about power and wealth are best negotiated before, not after, the signing

The people of Kenya have just completed their big and historical general elections.

The elections were big and historical because they ushered in a new and young generation of leaders from the old guard. The elections were historical because they were held under a new constitution and a new political system which has created 47 federal states but the Kenyans preferred to call them Counties.

The Kenyans have demonstrated that they are ahead of Ugandans in many ways and there is so much which Ugandans could learn from them.

It was remarkable that during the campaign all the eight contestants held the first ever Presidential debate. This debate is so important because the candidate speaks as if he is the President addressing a nation and the people judge what type of person he is. He answers different questions from the audience and the interviewing panel, concerning what he will do for the people after they have elected him/her their President.

The candidate has an opportunity of spelling out all the major points outlined in his/her election manifesto.

The style of dressing and speaking to the people must be different from the usual wearing of shirts and dresses portraying party colours, wearing of dry banana leaves (bisanja) and dancing to the exciting “Bagisu kadodi music.”

A Presidential candidate must show that he/she is intelligent, well educated, and well versed with both local and international affairs. He should not have bushy hair on his head.

I remember that this good and modern system of a presidential debate was started by the late President John Kennedy of the United States of America in 1960.

In 1960, the Democratic Party sponsored John Kennedy to contest against Richard Nixon of the Republican Party. Some Americans said he was young and, therefore, could not lead America at that time.

John Kennedy said he was fit to lead America and, to prove that, he was ready to face Richard Nixon in a Presidential debate so that the people could judge for themselves. When the debate was held Kennedy spoke so eloquently on all issues that were raised. The Americans were surprised and they elected him President.

The people of Kenya are a good example to the rest of Africa because of the way they have strengthened and maintained the pillars of democracy. They have presidential term limits which they cannot change and this creates an opportunity to move peacefully within the channels of democracy.

The outgoing President Mwai Kibaki has completed his ten years of service. During the campaign there was no incumbent President. This created complete peace for the candidates and one of them used helicopters to campaign, something which cannot happen in Uganda.

Another remarkable achievement was the adoption of a new federal system constitution which has reduced the powers of the President and the powers have gone back to the people in their respective federal states. Each state has an elected Governor and an elected Assembly which is responsible for development in that particular area.

The new Constitution has set up a good system of each Presidential candidate choosing a running mate. This system is good and more democratic because the people elect a President knowing who is going to be his Vice-President.

Another remarkable achievement in Kenyan politics was the creation of an Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. The Commission was elected by the people themselves and at the time of announcing the results, the Chairman said that he cannot hide the results, anybody can check them.

In Uganda we are under a multiparty system since 2005 but the Electoral Commission is still appointed by the President and even the opposition parties and MPs have not taken any move to have all political parties represented on the Electoral Commission. We have two and half years left to the next general elections.

Finally the Kenyans have taught us that politics is getting power and wealth. You always negotiate what you are getting when you form a government after the elections. This is what you do at the time of forming an alliance or Coalition with other people or political parties before the elections.

In the just concluded Kenya elections the Kalenjins of the Rift Valley allied with the Kikuyus. The Kalenjins made sure that they get the Vice-Presidency post so that within that period of five years they will be at the centre of power and they will create wealth for their people. They are also targeting the top leadership of the country after Uhuru Kenyatta. The Luos and the Wakamba did the same in anticipation of winning.

In Uganda, the Baganda who are the dominant tribe, have to learn this otherwise they will always end up being on the losing side and being terribly marginalised all the time.

We have learnt a lot from the Kenya elections, let us prepare for ours in 2016. I have liked the people of Kenya for being democratic. Although there are people who say it is not perfect, it’s still the best man has invented.

KAVUMA-KAGGWA is an Elder from Kyaggwe in Mukono District

Tel: 0772-584423

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