Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Confused Editorial from the Monitor of April 7 2005

The Monitor editorial of the 7th April 2005 is one of the weakest and most confusing editorials to have been written for readers at a time when the country is bordering a crisis. It is almost equivalent to the “Irresistible Force and the Immovable Object" case where no meaningful action can be taken. It would have been good to know that there is going to be no more secret voting in parliament. But this open voting is only for the constitutional amendment, because it is so important that posterity should see how our representatives voted. This is yet again one example of the NRM/Museveni junta manipulating parliament to get what they want!

The Editorial says:

Amending the Constitution is no small matter. The men and women who have the power to represent or quash our aspirations should be ready to stand up and be counted. But we also know that the reasons for the push for open voting were not entirely altruistic. The government and proponents of this method appear to want to send a message to MPs that “We are watching you.”

The editor was addressing the removal of secret voting from parliament in the pending amendment to the constitution. The NRM has been in power for more than seventeen years now. And now when it is facing a stiff resistance to changing the constitution to allow Museveni further term to rule Uganda, it wants to get it by way of threat.
In other words, if the members of parliament defeat the ammendment to the constitution through secret ballot, the NRM would have no one to go after. But they will certainly go "back to the bush." On the other hand, open voting would allow easy identification of those who may vote against the amendment and single them for some form of punishment as a good example for people to see what can happen to those who dare oppose the NRM. The good part is that the people will have seen and will not support the NRM this time around. Still it is the last gamble that they can play without going into their usual routine (Luwero, skulls, Mucholi, Obote, back to power)

Take a stand! This is a time for specific action. We do not have time for this kind of classroom logic. I am not against taking into consideration or looking at all possible scenarios before making a decision. But after doing so, specific action should be taken or definite side should be chosen. This is what makes a difference between a good leadership and a bad one. That editorial of April 7 2005 is incomplete because it leaves us in confusion and should not have been written. Editorial should be clear-cut and represent a strong stand that the editor is taking; a moral suasion and not classroom logic.

The Editorial is appended below.

MPs should stand up and be counted
As expected, Parliament on Wednesday voted to do away with secret voting on the Constitution Amendment Bill. The government and the Movement majority supported a motion providing for open voting on constitutional amendments. Supporters of open voting argue that it is a transparent method that forces people’s representatives to account to their constituents. Opponents argue that many Members of Parliament would be easily intimidated into voting for the government’s proposal to remove term limits and such related controversial amendments if voting were to be conducted in the open. They add that those who oppose the government’s proposals would be subjected to harassment later the voting were by secret ballot, it is argued, many MPs who would have feared to vote openly against the government position would do so because of the protection that secrecy would afford them. Both sides have a point. While there is a legitimate case to be made about how voting by secret ballot protects MPs from intimidation by ruling governments, there is an equally compelling case to be made for the principle of open voting in the legislature. Members of Parliament should be accountable to their constituents. The easiest and most reliable way for voters to establish whether their representative is in fact representing their interests in Parliament is if they are able to follow his or her votes on the major issues before the House. Amending the Constitution is no small matter. The men and women who have the power to represent or quash our aspirations should be ready to stand up and be counted. But we also know that the reasons for the push for open voting were not entirely altruistic. The government and proponents of this method appear to want to send a message to MPs that “We are watching you.” Whatever the motives of the proponents and opponents of open voting, not all is lost. Members of Parliament can still go into division lobby and record their votes. The country should know where MPs stood on the third term, on the regional tier system, on dual citizenship, on giving the president powers to dissolve Parliament, in fact on all the proposed constitutional amendments. Let our representatives show us, and posterity, where they stand.

1 comment:

Shiroh said...

ihavent followed Uganda's politics perse but i guess you guys from the foregoing have a long way to go. In Kenya that is no longer a problem voting is voting whatever side you choose to vote nobody gets punished. Anyway,interesting comment