The politics of exclusion and winner-take-all (zero sum-game) has not worked well in Uganda since independence in 1962 and in many other developing countries. Political exclusion has constrained access to economic resources and social services by those in the opposition leading to inequalities and consequent conflicts.
This matter of political exclusion has been taken up at the United Nations negotiations for the post-2015 development agenda. Goal 16 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls for peaceful and inclusive societies, rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It will form an integral part of the development agenda from 2016 to 2030.
In Uganda there is general consensus that the politics of exclusion should be replaced by an appropriate arrangement in the post-NRM period. The current model also has concentrated power in the presidency and at the center at the expense of regions which has come under severe scrutiny because it has undermined the principles of separation of powers among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government and the associated checks and balances and federalism respectively. During consultations for the 1995 constitution, the majority of Ugandans called for a federal system of government but was excluded from the constitution.
The idea of an all inclusive transitional government as a replacement of the politics of exclusion was discussed by Ugandans at the July 2011 Los Angeles conference that created United Democratic Ugandans (UDU). Mubiru Musoke was elected chairperson to cover principally constitutional matters. Eric Kashambuzi was elected Secretary-General with mandate that included diplomatic networking and civic education and matters related to transitional government and proportional representation. The transitional government that has the following proposed characteristics and functions has enjoyed considerable support among Ugandans at home and abroad.
1. The transitional government should be inclusive of all stakeholders including NRM so that no one is left behind;
2. It should be led by a presidential team so that each region is represented. Currently some regions are complaining that they have been excluded from the highest office in the land. Members of the team should be selected on the basis of agreed upon criteria which must include impeccable character, sufficient knowledge and experience to understand the intricacies of domestic and international politics and economics. They must not participate in the next elections as they would have the advantage of incumbency over other candidates. (Following the death of Stalin of the Soviet Union, a three-person team was appointed to run the affairs of state at that difficult moment and subsequently replaced by Khruschev, a non-member of the team). The chair of the team should rotate among the members;
3. During the transitional period whose duration should be based on the tasks to be undertaken should not make major changes in the civil service (civil service which is apolitical serves every government in power).
4. Besides the day-to-day management of state affairs, the transitional government should strengthen the capacity of institutions. To avoid sectarianism which has plagued the civil service, a team of public service commissioners should be appointed with each region represented. Furthermore, security forces should be managed by the chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff instead of one military official;
5. It should conduct a comprehensive population census to know exactly who we are and how many not only for political but more significantly for development purposes;
6. It should organize a national convention of all stakeholders to debate and make recommendations about how Ugandans want to be governed.
7. The transitional government should then organize free and fair multi-party elections.
8. To avoid protracted debate over which constitution – 1962, 1967 or 1995 – to use, the government should be governed by a charter.
We call upon all Ugandans at home and in the Diaspora to comment on these proposals – in line with the principles of transparency, participation, ownership and accountability.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all
December 25, 2014