The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, has challenged the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda to ensure that the planned National Dialogue achieves its intended purpose.
The Inter Religious Council plans to launch the National Dialogue process on 21 November 2018 under the theme, “The Uganda we want”.
Oulanyah who met the Council led by Canon Justice James Ogoola on 6 November 2018 in Parliament advised the leaders to ensure that they develop an implementation modality of the issues discussed.
“How is it going to be implemented? Is it going to be through an Act of Parliament, is it going to be through some policy document? How is it going to be housed so that it will not be in vain,” Oulanyah inquired.
He added that the dialogue should aim at ensuring that the existing systems and institutions function.
“We need to re-structure things and make institutions relevant so that they improve service delivery. After all that is the purpose for which we exist. We do not have any another purpose in the Constitution but to put systems in place that can serve people,” said Oulanyah.
He cautioned the religious leaders against violating the principles of the Constitution in their bid to promote national dialogue.
He said that such discussions, informal or formal, should be cognizant of the provisions in the Constitution.
“I will not want to see a situation like it has happened in the region where it has become an avenue for outstepping the Constitution. It has happened in Kenya and Ethiopia. I would want the promoters of this initiative to make sure that it is captured within the Constitution and we are together,” Oulanyah added.
He also advised the conveners to ensure that those they send to disseminate information about the process are well informed to avoid misunderstanding.
“How do we move without being misunderstood? If you are not understood from day one, we will work and work and that is it, there will be no results,” he said.
Justice Ogoola said the concerns raised by the Deputy Speaker are covered in the National Dialogue framework paper.
“We shall keep revising it because it keeps changing, but the content is in there,” said Ogoola.
He added that all concerns would be addressed during the launch of the National Dialogue.
“The purpose of the launch is threefold; to adopt the framework and ask people to give us a mandate to go back to carry out formal consultations. We shall ask experts to form committees on the various themes and write more papers so that when the dialogue comes, they will have all the materials to inform debates,” said Ogoola.
Joshua Kitakule, a member of the Inter Religious Council welcomed the Deputy Speaker’s advice saying that some of the issues have equally been raised in various platforms.
“When constituting thematic working groups for every proposed agenda item, I think we will have to agree on the rules, representation and structure of the dialogue,” Kitakule said.
He also clarified that the launch is not the dialogue, but rather aimed at formalizing the process.
The thematic areas proposed include; a national consensus on values, diversity, the economy and access to land and natural resources.
The other thematic areas are; consensus and responsibility, effective service delivery beyond blaming government; as well as on political commitment, constitutionalism and rule of law.