Ugandan Members of Parliament are living on an edge, but that if they are serious enough, let them impeach President Yoweri Museveni over the sim card switch off saga, says a political analyst.
Leonard Okello, a political scientist with extensive local and international service in development work, advocacy and campaigns, for health, democracy and accountability, was appearing on NBS television Tuesday morning.
“MPs are living on the edge, they seem to be under pressure,” he said, referring to an incident that saw the house extend sim card registration exercise for atleast a year only to be defied by ICT minister, Frank Tumwebaze.
Speaker Kadaga the accused Tumwebaze (Kibaale East), of contempt of parliament and ordered that he appears before the Rules and Privileges committee for disciplinary action.
“I am shocked to learn that the minister for ICT, Hon Frank Kagyigyi Tumwebaze, MP for Kibaale East county, Kamwenge district, in total disregard, disrespect and disdain of this House’s resolution has insisted that unregistered Sim cards will be disconnected,” Kadaga told the House.
“This is an affront to the people’s representatives and the country and it is unacceptable and cannot go unchallenged,” the NRM second national vice chairperson told MPs.
Although Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa, maintained it was a cabinet decision and not Tumwebaze’s fault, Shadow Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Medard Lubega Sseggona (Busiro East), said the were in the initial stages of drafting the censure motion.
MPs should impeach president
According to analyst Okello, there would never have been such a crisis if leaders were well-organised and parliament better respected.
“We shouldn’t be having this SIM card crisis,” Okello told NBS TV, adding, “We have highly educated leaders, they should have figured this out years ago.”
He went on: “If they (MPs) are serious, let them impeach the president.”
It was actually President Yoweri Museveni who announced the extension of the deadline to August 30 after appeals from MPs during a ruling NRM party caucus on Monday.
“Ministry of ICT and other concerned government agencies are authorized to allow this new window. I ask Ugandans to take this exercise seriously,” Museveni said.
It was Museveni who on May 19, backed Tumwebaze’s statement saying he supported the sim card switch off so people can register and prevent security threats.
“I support efforts of authorities to register SIM cards and urge all to adhere to the deadline. It’s a critical step in the fight against crime.”
Concurring with Nankabirwa, Okello also explains that the whole process beyond Tumwebaze’s control hence he can’t be held responsible alone.
“Tumwebaze was just a tool, it wasn’t his decision,” Okello resumed presently.
He added: “I think Tumwebaze has to appear before disciplinary committee and make a report and he needs to control his loose ended words.”
Okello said if the driving reason for SIM card registration was security, then there is a lot to do.
“People commit crimes without phones.”
Who is Okello?
While at Uganda’s Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development and Oxfam International, Okello led the Uganda Participatory Poverty Assessment Process through which the Poverty Eradication Action Plan, the Poverty Action Fund, the Plan for Modernising Agriculture, the National Agricultural Advisory Services and the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund.
Okello later joined Actionaid International as the International Head for HIV/AIDS Programmes, where he actively led the universal access to treatment campaigns.
He returned to Uganda where he briefly served as the Country Director at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.
He has since set up The Uhuru Institute for Social Development a social business using business acumen to promote citizens collective action for social and economic empowerment, defense of human rights and nurturing democratic practice.