Don’t castigate FDC for shunning the IPOD summit

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Party Presidents from DP, NRM, JEEMA and UPCconvene for their Summit at the Speke Resort Hotel in Munyonyo last Wednesday.

By Jason Mugizi

Conflicted commentary?, “However, the same commentators didn’t come out to condemn one of the presidential candidates for staying away from the presidential debate ahead of 2016 elections. It was okay then

It can’t be gainsaid that Uganda is a country that is in dire need for a candid, sober and comprehensive national conversation, and therefore all genuine efforts that are vectored towards such a direction are a welcome input. A presumptuous group called the elders’ forum is making an attempt at this.

There is evident social disharmony and antipathy among the population. There is a general feeling that a group of individuals have unreasonable access and unfair dominance of opportunities and privileges in government.

There is mounting social tensions and struggle for resources, most notably land. This partly explains why there is a commission of inquiry into land matters chaired by a powerful Justice Catherine Bamugereire of the court of appeal. The recent illegal land eviction of low end citizens from a suburb of Lusanja in Wakiso speaks to this fact.

There are innumerable cases of dehumanizing evictions(often carried out night) where the downtrodden have been unjustly deprived of their means of their means of survival by uncouth rich men, highly powerful people with the aid of perfidious city lawyers, police and courts of law. On this list, add the fact that wetlands and other public spaces are in most notable cases, commandeered by private powerful individuals that are ensconced to state power.

Political competition and contestation for power has become toxic. One of the leaders of this country is on record for making condescending writings and berating the opposition calling them all sorts of derogatory names.

The recent trend of events and general outlook of our politics portray visible instrumental use of state apparatus and court processes to unduly inconvenience political opponents, the use of outright brute force notwithstanding.

Parliament, a supposed institution for sober and intellectual discussion has been bastardized by the vexatious use of overwhelming numbers by the ruling party members to serve self and surpass reason. Such intransigence is why sections of the infamous constitutional amendment bill number 1 of 2016 (Magyezi bill) were invalidated by the constitutional court as repugnant to the parent law (constitution).

There is runaway unemployment and desperation, endemic corruption among others, and such call for an honest dialogue about how to get from where we are.

Therefore the Interparty organization for dialogue (IPOD) can be one avenue for conducting a meaningful conversation about Uganda’s past, present and future. IPOD brings together parties with representation in parliament including the Justice forum which has only one Member of Parliament,Mr. Asuman Basalirwa

The much anticipated IPOD summit happened on 12th December 2018 without the presence of Uganda’s official opposition political party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) which boldly laid down its reasons for shunning what has been described by some commentators as a paparazzi show.

Other parties include the National Resistance Movement (NRM), Democratic Party (DP), and the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC).

UPC has one of its members(Hon Betty AMongi) serving in the cabinet as a minister for lands while her husband, Jimmy Akena’s presidency is contested and viewed by a section of members as illegitimate with court yet to fully determine his fate at the helm of the party, which is admittedly become a shadow of its past.

FDC enlisted reasons which among others included; abuse of human rights including blocking its scheduled activities in Kasese,Rukungiri and Mbarara.FDC also noted that there had not been adequate time for the IPOD council to deliberate on the four thematic areas that formed the agenda for the summit. The summit is supposed to ratify earlier on agreed decisions and not having detailed discussions.

And indeed, the FDC was vindicated because at the end of the summit, there was no communiqué put in in the open.

FDC’s refusal to go to the summit was welcomed with castigation and tones of ridicule by some politicians and others trading under the label of commentators. They feel that FDC should have gone to IPOD to make its case arguing that it was a missed opportunity.

However, the same commentators didn’t come out to condemn one of the presidential candidates for staying away from the presidential debate ahead of 2016 elections. It was okay then. Isn’t this being double standard?

Such opinions, however thoughtful they may be serve to suggest that FDC should have gone to IPOD to beg for rights that are already guaranteed by the 1995 constitution of Uganda, some of them in Article 29.

If I may ask, what did the meeting between presidential candidates held after 2006 achieve?

The failure by the summit to come up with resolutions nearly reduced the occasion a social gathering of passive talking. The body language of some actors from the opposition looked star-struck after meeting the president; their ear to ear smiles said it all.

The reassurance by the president in his lecture that day, that he will not leave the stage until he achieves the broader African Vision should be a wakeup call for change seeking like minds to evolve out of party headquarters and meetings in air conditioned offices, work on a long lasting formulae for the value of X.

At the end of the day, FDC was the winner. Conversations should be meaningful with guarantees on a clear implementation of the outcome.

The author is a student at the Law Development Centre, and a sociopolitical critic.

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