Kamya’s federo analysis partly flawed – Besigye

By Timothy Nsubuga

23rd January 2012:

Challenged: UFA Boss Kamya

The opposition Forum for Democratic Change [FDC] Party President Dr Kizza Besigye has taken serious issue with the assertion by Uganda Federal Alliance [UFA] Party President Betty Olive Kamya which seems to suggest that a federal system of governance is the solution to all Uganda’s socio-economic and political problems.

In an article sent to this newspaper in which he pointed out the ills of Uganda’s current unitary system, stated the benefits of federalism, and reaffirmed his party’s “strong” support for a federal system of governance, the FDC boss said, “…whereas it’s appropriate to have federalism in Uganda for reasons given earlier, it’s wrong to suggest that federalism is a panacea for poverty eradication or democratic and good governance.”

Citing the examples of the federal systems of Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, The Comoros, and Somalia, Besigye said federalism is not, in and of itself, a solution to all political problems.  “…It may be recalled, indeed, that the Federal arrangement of 1962 was not able to immunize our country against the turmoil that engulfed us a few years after independence.” Besigye said.

In the case of Nigeria, Besigye said, political turbulence and corruption have remained systemic and entrenched since the country attained independence.  He also said despite Nigeria’s plentiful agricultural resources and oil wealth, poverty is widespread in the country and has increased since the late 1990s. Over 70 per cent of Nigerians are now classified as poor, and 35 per cent of them live in absolute poverty.

This bleak picture, he said, is the same with the other African Federal governments; where wars, Human Rights abuses, corruption are rampant. To emphasize his point further, Besigye also pointed out that although Uganda’s ranking on the 2011 Democracy Index is nothing to be proud of, it is still better than some African countries with federal systems.

“…Uganda is presently ranked 96th according to the Democracy Index (2011) out of the 167 countries surveyed. The African Federal governments are ranked as follows: Nigeria 119th, Ethiopia 121st, The Comoros 126th, and Sudan 153rd. Somalia was not surveyed. Other Federal governments outside Africa include Venezuela 97th, Pakistan 105th, Russia 117th, and United Arab Emirates 149th.” Besigye said.

The FDC leader then set out a few critical benchmarks that he said must be achieved in order to set Uganda on a democratic path.  “…In order to attain a sustainably democratic and good government which engenders human development, the following, among others, are critical.” Besigye said.  Besigye’s critical benchmarks are:

  • Informed citizen participation: This entails raising the consciousness and building the capacity and knowledge of citizens. To this end, all-round education (formal and informal) is the key. For example, citizens must have the right and ability to know how public revenues are collected and spent, and to participate in the decision-making.
  • Freedom of expression and media
  • A strong legal framework and enforcement mechanisms (eg: independent investigative, prosecutorial and judicial functions).
  • An independent and effective legislature and civil society
  • High official competence (capability) – a product of training
  • Fiscal (budgetary) transparency and accountability: This includes giving the public budgetary information in an understandable, accessible and timely basis; independent assurances of integrity; and clarity of roles and responsibilities in whole budgetary cycle.
  • The political will and commitment of government leaders:  To lead by example and abide by the laws. This is especially vital in the process of making the transition from corrupt authoritarian regimes to democratic and good governments.

According to the FDC leader, “…it is these measures and actions that underpin political and economic accountability. In turn, political and economic accountability is the bedrock of democratic and good governance.”  Besigye is also convinced that if appropriate policies are pursued, then the tyranny that emanates from over concentration of power and resources in the central government of unitary system can be nipped in the bud.

“…On the other hand, if appropriate policies are not pursued, Federal System governments become as corrupt and authoritarian as those in a Unitary System.” Besigye said.  Read Dr Besigye’s full article in our opinions section under the title: Federalism can’t solve all our problems”. END:  Please login to www.ugandacorrespondent.com every Monday to read our top stories and anytime mid-week for our news updates.

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