Post-NRM Uganda will need a transitional government led by a presidential team

I have consistently argued that the system of governance in Uganda with strong central government and one person president who accumulates political, military and economic powers in his hands; appoints and dismisses public servants has not worked. This unsatisfactory governance system has pushed Uganda to a point of near disintegration. Calls to secede from Uganda are on the increase. This is a fact we have to accept. Then we need an alternative, at least temporarily, to help us draw lessons for a roadmap for the next 50 years.

Uganda will need an inclusive transitional government for at least three years embracing all political parties and credible organizations, except individuals alleged to have committed crimes against humanity since 1962. The government must be led by an empowered presidential team with impeccable character – character is the defining word to qualify.

During periods of near anarchy as in Uganda today you need this arrangement whose principal function is to give people a breathing space. This has been done before in countries where disintegration was looming on the horizon.

In Soviet Union, when Stalin died in 1953, the supreme authority was officially vested in three top Politburo members. Khrushchev eventually emerged as the leader in 1955 (F. Rothney 2002). The Soviet Union was thus saved.

In former Yugoslavia, when President Tito died in 1980 at a time of serious political economy difficulties that threatened the unity of the country, his functions were transferred to the collective State Presidency and to the Presidium of the League of the Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY). The President of the State Presidency acted as the head of state, rotating the post annually among the members of the presidency (Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Europa Publication Limited 1994). It allowed Yugoslavia to stick together for another ten years until people decided to go their ways in a bloody fashion.

In Uganda a three man presidential team was established by the Military Commission. The Commission recognized the importance of this office at least to calm the nerves of Ugandans that would possibly have rebelled in its absence after Presidents Lule and Binaisa had been ousted from power.

This time we need it even more to give Ugandans a chance to debate and agree on how they should be governed and deny one person an opportunity to manipulate the people and stay in power. Museveni had promised he would leave the office in 1990. It is now 2014 and he still wants to be re-elected in 2016. He is able to do this because the one person presidency allowed him to force removal of presidential term limits from the constitution. This is a lesson we can’t forget and can’t allow to be repeated.

We need to be innovative. We can’t settle into routines even when they have not worked. Let me add that a presidential team may slow down efficiency but that is not the issue now. The issue is to give people a sense of representation at the highest level while they sort out how they want to be governed. The proposed transitional government led by a presidential team should not last more than three years unless the people may want to extend it as is done in Switzerland.

Please offer your constructive views on these two proposals: a transitional government led by a presidential team for up to three years.

Eric Kashambuzi