DEMOCRATIC PARTY MEMORANDUM
H.E. THE PRESIDENT OF UGANDA
On July 28, 2006
Your Excellency the President, as you know, the Democratic Party has been on the forefront in the struggle for peace, democracy and development in Uganda for over five decades now. We applaud the people of Uganda for again choosing a path for freedom and liberty in multiparty democracy. However, despite holding the 2006 general elections under the multiparty political dispensation, we have not truly had a transition from the Movement one-party system. The country is still crying out for bold and inspiring leadership to urgently tackle many challenging problems that face us today.
You recall, Mr. President, that on the 26th August 2005 the DP, under the group of six political parties (G6) cooperation, submitted to you a petition containing demands for an equitable democratization process towards the transition and holding democratic elections. We are disappointed that you did not labour to respond to those burning issues at the time which have, after all, remained relevant following the recent general elections.
The Democratic Party now wishes to put before you the following issues that require urgent attention and response if we must move this country selflessly from despair to hope, from war to peace, and from poverty to prosperity. DP is very keen to follow up these matters with you and is ready to contribute ground-breaking solutions to our deep-seated multiple problems.
A. MANAGING TRANSITION TO GENUINE MULTIPARTY DEMOCRACY
(1) Institutionalizing a Meaningful Framework for Dialogue:
a) We request that Your Excellency the President and leaders of opposition parties meet regularly, at least once semi-annually, to discuss matters of national interests. A committee consisting of members from both opposition and government should be established to coordinate and undertake scheduling and production of agenda for such meetings. We also propose that in the future the chair should rotate among political parties.
b) A National Conference must convene urgently involving representatives of all stakeholders including, government, opposition parties, civil society, business, youth, and law enforcement to discuss and resolve outstanding national issues where there seems to be no unanimity. Such issues would cover, but not limited to, matters of national unity, system of governance, evaluation of the political transition, and the continuing role of the military in Uganda’s politics.
(2) The Ongoing Peace Negotiations in Juba:
a) DP has always stood for peace. We fully support the ongoing peace process and urge both the government and the LRA to demonstrate goodwill and trust, and agree on a permanent end to war and hostilities so that the long-suffering people in the north and east of the country return to their homes to embark on productive resettlement.
b) We urge for immediate establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to help the nation fully explore and understand the root causes of our enduring conflicts and biases and to permanently heal our communities. For instance, your government has successfully reached agreements with several rebel groups that have since been absorbed or disbanded. But the country is concerned and would like to know why the LRA has stood out and persisted for almost 20 years.
(3) Amend the Electoral Laws:
The country cannot be stable unless and until people gain confidence in the electoral process and in their government. The Democratic Party demands that the Electoral Laws be amended as a matter of urgency to ensure independence in the management of our elections and to ensure free and fair elections.
a) Immediately halt the forthcoming elections of the Local Councils that have been scheduled for August due to the ongoing massive fraud with the registration of voters. DP has discovered that NRMO Officials, and not the Electoral Commission, are registering voters and are in possession of the official registers. This is happening in Busia and Mukono, for example, and is a direct evidence of a flawed electoral system and a mockery of our democracy.
b) Reform the Electoral Commission within the next one year. Amend the Electoral Commission Act to ensure independence of the Commissioners and provide security of tenure of the offices of the Commissioners similar to that of the Judges of the High Court. The present membership of the Commission is partisan and should be dissolved.
c) Undertake major campaign finance reform. Regulate campaign funding and, in particular, require and legislate spending limits for all candidates to control vote buying and corruption.
d) Amend all the laws that infringe on the rights of association and expression, such as the Police Act, the Law on Sedition, the Media Act, and the Anti-Terrorism Act.
It is important for the future stability of this country to amend the Electoral Laws and Electoral Commission Act in order for the people of Uganda to regain their confidence in the electoral process.
(4) Fund Political Parties:
The government should immediately implement the provision of the Law that provides for State-funding of political parties in order to help parties achieve equity in delivering civic education to our population and ensure that multiparty competition works for the good of the country.
(1) Reinstate Presidential Term Limit:
We have had a painful history of governance in Uganda. As responsible leaders, we must protect current and future generations from the perpetuation and emergence of dictatorial regimes in Uganda. The concentration of power in one office or one individual creates a culture of impunity and incentives on the incumbent to hold onto power with no end in sight. This culture also encourages bribery and institutionalized corruption to retain power at any cost. DP demands that the Presidential Term Limit be restored. The country generally believes that the first Constitutional amendment Act that took effect in 2005 particularly with regard to removing the Presidential Term Limit was conducted primarily at your urging, Your Excellency. We therefore believe that you have a moral duty to join the DP and other democratic efforts to help restore the Constitutional provision for the Presidential Term Limit.
(2) Stop the Arbitrary “Donation” and Allocation of Land:
DP is vehemently opposed to the current arbitrary system under your Presidency of awarding land to “foreign investors.” State House should allow government departments and agencies to function without unduly influencing them or interfering with their work. And investors, whether local or foreign, must follow proper procedures and channels outlined in the Laws of our country.
a) We demand that a transparent competitive system of bidding for land development be instituted. We recognize that there is no available investable land in Uganda which is free. DP finds it unacceptable that some of these lands being dished out to proposed investments are displacing legal establishments. We also strongly suggest that, for all prime locations which are legally available for redevelopment, government should propose and offer “land-for-equity swap” to a winning investor.
b) Institute strict and better zoning laws in Uganda. There is a clear lack of effective urban planning in the country and a complete disregard to environmental considerations. Currently, the urge to step up investments has resulted in incompatible projects being structured side by side – industries and bars in residential areas, hotels besides schools, and factories alongside schools.
(3) Step Up the Fight on Corruption:
DP insists that government must commit itself and clearly demonstrate political will to zero tolerance on corruption. Corruption discourages investments, strains performance of government, and erodes the value of service delivery to the tax payer and the entire population. We propose that, aside from vigorous enforcement of existing laws, the government must lawfully and credibly pursue forfeiture of stolen funds, seizure of assets, and use of international law enforcement to retrieve stolen funds now in foreign custody. Also, institute a voluntary amnesty for persons willing to return stolen funds and property.
(4) Restructure Government:
We strongly believe that the country cannot afford the costs of running a huge government as it is now.
a) We propose that the number of Ministries be drastically scaled down. DP is available to offer details of this restructuring.
b) We strongly advise you, Mr. President, to halt the creation of new Districts and suggest that smaller Districts be merged.
c) We suggest that the position of Resident District Commissioners be scrapped, and that you immediately halt the re-appointments of Presidential Advisors. RDCs have practically turned into political agents of the government. This is unacceptable and undesirable.
(5) Harmonize and Rationalize Salaries of Public Employees:
DP strongly believes there is an urgent need to have one national regulatory body to determine salaries paid to public employees.
(6) Security and National Defense:
a) Transform the current UPDF and build a truly neutral professional army. We further suggest legislation on the size and composition of the armed forces. We must press for a national army that is representative of and reflects the regional diversity of our country.
b) The Presidential Guard Brigade (PGB) must be part of the regular army, in Law and practice, to ensure that it is national in character and is compensated in comparison to the rest of the UPDF. We are mindful of the grave consequences this country and especially some particular communities have suffered as a result of regimes maintaining sectarian and ethnic armies.
c) The Democratic Party demands that the investigative reports on the killing of Dr. Andrew L. Kayiira now be made public. This is long overdue. In the past, whenever you appointed commissions of inquiry to investigate into the murders of several Ugandans, you raised people’s hopes in the process of justice and the credibility of our security agencies. Unfortunately, our confidence in the security organs of government has drastically fallen because of their persistent failure to report findings and be accountable.
d) We demand that unwarranted arrests and detention of people in so called “safe houses” be stopped immediately.
(7) Create an Independent and Representative Judiciary:
a) The appointment of Judicial Officers should be based on professionalism and must also take into account regional balance. Mr. President, you should now use pending and future nominations during your term of office to boldly rectify those anomalies.
b) We completely reject the appointments of political party cadres as Judges.
c) The government and the armed forces must not interfere at all with the Judiciary and in the way the Judges run their responsibilities and duties. If this continues, our budding democracy will be wrecked and the country will drift into turmoil.
(8) A Federal System of Governance for All Regions of the Country:
a) DP believes that the country badly needs change in the underlying system of governance. We are of the view that the unitary system has failed Uganda in many aspects. We propose that Uganda adopts a federal system of governance which has the potential to heal the country and help address the deepening imbalance in economic prosperity, curb the institutionalized corruption, and boost productivity by encouraging healthy internal competition and efficiency.
b) While we support Buganda’s support for a federal status, this issue must be discussed and handled on a national scale and not on a bilateral basis as is the case now.
c) The people of Uganda have never demanded Regional Tier system of governance. It is being imposed on them by the government in an effort to forestall the favorable call for federalism.
(9) Strengthen the East African Community:
DP believes that an effective functional Common Market is best for East Africa. We urge the East African nations to work for free movement of persons and capital in the region, for common labour markets, external tariffs, and currency. We, however, caution that a federation of East Africa should not be driven as a federation of the Presidents of the nation-states, but rather a federation of the people. In any process that is meant to lead the region to a political federation the people must first be fully consulted and involved.
C. MANAGEMENT OF THE ECONOMY
(1) Urgently Address the Energy Crisis:
The current electricity crisis in the country must not be allowed to continue any longer. If it happens, the manufacturing sector will sharply contract, job creation will stagnate, unemployment will persistently rise, government revenues will plummet, and the economy overall will drastically recede.
a) It is public knowledge that no help is expected from Bujagali Dam and Karuma Falls at least for another three years. But the construction and completion of these two schemes require about $1 billion. To date, it is not yet clear whether the government has completed securing their total financing. The Democratic Party is asking for public assurance.
b) In the emergency measure put in place, your government has cited the Thermal Power Generation Unit now in operation, with a plan to import and set up two additional Units. DP has established that the current Unit consumes 160,000 litres of diesel per day at a cost of roughly shs320 million. This translates to about shs10 billion per month spent on diesel. In the event that the other two Units are acquired, the total cost of diesel for operating the three Units will amount to shs30 billion ($17m) per month. The implication is that electricity tariff must again go up substantially. This is utterly unsustainable.
c) We propose that the government should immediately permit importation of energy saving bulbs, inverters, batteries, and other relevant accessories, all free of taxes.
d) We are of the strong view that it would be relatively cheaper for government to opt for importation of electricity instead of injecting further investments in Thermal Power Generation Units. We are also not aware of any environmental impact assessment studies that have been done on the operation of the Units.
a) As you are aware, poverty is widening and deepening in the country. At the beginning of 2005 about 38 percent of the Ugandan population (and over 70 percent in war-torn areas) was living on less than $1 a day. To succeed in maintaining that level of poverty in the country, the economy must grow at an annual rate of 7 percent. Therefore, to reduce poverty GDP growth rate must be in excess of 7 percent. As you are aware, the Hon. Minister of Finance that our GDP grew at only 5.3 percent in 2005, and there is no expectation for a better performance over the next year. It is clear, therefore, that poverty is on a steady rise.
b) As a first step, government must focus on eradicating hunger if we must succeed in taming poverty.
c) We demand that government sets its priority right and commits itself more to the development and modernization of Agriculture. The recent budgetary allocation shows total government neglect of the sector which employs about 88 percent of the population.
d) It is inconceivable and unacceptable that Agriculture receives a paltry 3.5 percent of budgetary assignments (2006/07). State House alone gets a much bigger budget than that.
e) At an annual growth rate of 0.9 percent in Agricultural production over the last three years compared to a 3 percentage growth in population, your government is certainly losing the war on poverty.
f) Agriculture in Uganda still primarily depends on the prevalence of rain. Mechanization has not improved a great deal.
g) In spite of PMA, NAADS, and your campaigns over the last 10 years, modernization of Agriculture appears to have had little success.
h) Agricultural advisory services and extension work are non-existent in most parts of the country where they are most needed.
i) Restore farmers’ Cooperatives. Currently, farmers have lost interest in cash crop production due to pricing manipulation and severe lack of markets. Consider the case of vanilla. Despite fluctuations in world market prices, for every $10 that vanilla export earned, a local Uganda farmer only received $1.
(3) Reform the Banking Sector
a) Interest rates on credit capital are exceedingly high and are bankrupting many enterprises especially small businesses. We urge the Central Bank to review and change its monetary policy and requirements by initiating a reduction in interest rates levels.
b) Set restrictions to the ever wild imposition of fees by Commercial Banks that have made most depositors effectively earning negative interest on their savings. If uncontrolled, this could eventually lead to a trigger of undesirable process of disintermediation – funds flying out of the sector that would adversely affect the liquidity, capitalization and solvency of some banks. This would also work against government monetary target of increasing savings rate in the economy.
c) Restructure the Uganda Development Bank. Render the Bank more autonomy so that it can shield itself from political influence and attain a more professional management. As a strategy, the Bank must be made to grow into an enviable center for long-term capital in the country. Merge Uganda Development Bank with Housing Finance Corporation.
d) Establish a National Cooperative Bank to support agricultural financing and allow farmers have access to credit at reasonable interest rates. Other services, including lease financing, could be made available. It is critically important to keep political functionaries out of the operations of the Bank.
e) Abolish the current Ministry of Microfinance but step up support of the Microfinance industry. Instead, create a strong Department of Small Enterprises in the Ministry of Finance, specifically to monitor the industry and offer advisory services to small businesses and entrepreneurs.
D. PROVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES
a) DP fully supports the Universal Primary education (UPE) but is dismayed by the poor quality of the programme. As you know, the Democratic Party was the first to propose UPE way back in 1960. In 1996 the Party reiterated its same position. However, we urge the government to direct more funding to drastically improve the quality of the program. The primary school (UPE) drop out rate ranging from 22 percent in Masaka to 81 percent in Kumi is unacceptable. Currently 64 percent of P3 UPE pupils cannot read or write.
b) We support the introduction of Universal Secondary Education (USE) as proposed by government but we are opposed to cutting back funding of UPE and shifting it to USE.
c) Government sponsorship in higher education should be revised to include consideration of need based funding to dominate merit and location based sponsorship.
DP recognizes that access to health care for all is an important millennium development goal. We urge the government to set investment in health care as a priority.
a) Pay a decent and living wage to all health workers.
b) Currently about 30 percent of positions in hospitals and health facilities across the country are unfilled. Government must address this anomaly.
c) About 7 percent of our population is believed to be HIV positive. Unfortunately, only 8 percent of those have access to treatment. Government must urgently devote more funds to the fight against this pandemic.
John Ssebaana Kizito Richard Ebil Ottoo
President Secretary General
Monday, July 31, 2006
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