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Achievements of NRM vs the Opposition in Parliament (2021) - "A Report Card"

A review of the Legislative Agenda of Parliament of Uganda in 2021

On the feisty Capital Radio’s political talk show, #TheCapitalGang, held on January 29 2022, two political protagonists, Hon Thomas Tayebwa, the Government’s Chief Whip and Hon Matias Mpuuga, the Leader of Opposition in parliament (LoP), who are the drivers of the legislative agenda in Parliament, often with contrarian views, faced off! The show was hosted by a founding member of the Kigo Thinkers, the ambivalent Oskar Semweya-Musoke and ‘gangsters’ Messrs. Ofwono Opondo, the government spokesman, Robert Kirunda, an educationist and advocate plus the joyous Ms. Mary-Anne Nanfuka, a tax expert. A great discussion ensued and here is a Kigo Thinkers' review on the key issues discussed.

Parliamentary achievements in 8 months

Even in its pared-back form, the role of a government chief whip is daunting; it is laced with following up on bills, coordinating ministerial responses and appointing the leadership and members to committees. The work of Hon Tayebwa in 2021 has been commended by many. With a legislative index comprising of 14 bills presented to parliament and successfully coordinating the vetting of all presidential nominees for various positions, there is reason to laud him. Add in the mighty process of submitting and processing the Charter for Fiscal Responsibility and budget framework paper. The NRM man is on fire!

Not so fast, says the LoP, Hon M. Mpuuga whose new, almost non-confrontation style of leadership plus the promotion of “alternative government” stance, has his own list of accomplishments. Beginning with, and for the first time in parliamentary proceedings, presenting an alternative budget framework paper and a charter for fiscal responsibility to the budget committee. This led to the adoption of his minority report massively by the house. Impressive indeed considering that the NUP leadership in parliament is made up of youthful inexperience and many first-time members of parliament.

Members of the NUP Party

Rarely do we witness such shared critical parliamentary achievements.

A case in point was about the oil bills that were a shared triumph for both the government and the opposition without the direct intervention of the head of state. This is indeed putting national interest at the forefront through the use of the ZOPA negotiating strategy.

Even the gangsters agreed that the two principals are doing a great job. Driven by the changing type of opposition politics in parliament that is constructive rather than obstructive and belligerent all the time. However, some voices are raised at the opposition leadership composition with accusations that it is not inclusive of all opposition parties in parliament; an assertion that is vigorously rebutted by Mpuuga!

Let us see how the rest of 2022 plays out including the Auditor General’s report and other political agendas to see if the two principals will still work together.

These chronicles of the nation’s progress are, however, bruised by the recently reported illegal arrests and claims of torture by security agents aimed at activists, opposition members of Parliament and even dissidents living in the country. Despite the LoP demanding due process for the arrested parliamentarians, demanding a fair, quick and transparent trial, the government has not relented and argues that on their day in court, it will adduce the evidence to prove the sceptics wrong. Recent evidence suggests that this may not happen; we await that day in court!

Opposition MPS, Ssegirinya & Ssewanyana claim torture by security agents

Lastly, there is an important group of civil servants who have temporarily discarded military attire and donned suits. Appointed to the civil service to bring order and serve the nation. It's constitutionally allowed to appoint, second and transfer a serving military man/woman into the civil service, who then becomes answerable to public service standing orders and not military law. However, it comes off as a conduit to building loyalty to the differentiated NRM support base rather than relying on capacity development of the civil service protocols.

In conclusion, Kigo Thinkers attempts to add context to the arguments by belabouring two essential elements of the show. First is the need to escalate the quality of debate in parliament even though we are witnessing growing cohesion between the leaders across the political divide. Second, to grow the pride of a nation by ensuring due process is followed when dealing with incarcerated individuals to stop the buildup of polarizing politics.

We all should engage political traction that is constructive. That's normal, and it can keep us sane when life gets overwhelming! So Kigo Thinkers are curious: how do you achieve political traction while pursuing your own political agenda and purpose?

Let us know when you reply to this blog.

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