In light of the 2019 Human rights convention theme “Government Action, Citizen Participation and the Rule of Law,” I have been wondering and also examining how much and the extent I have in the recent past years been involved in the governance of my country , far from just participating in the election.
Citizens’ participation in their governance ideally derives its cradle under by Article 1 (1) of the Ugandan Constitution which emphasises that all power belongs to the people who shall exercise their sovereignty in accordance with the Constitution. The Article further provides under clause (2) that without limiting the effect of clause (I) of article 1 , All authority in the State shall arise from the people of Uganda; and that the people shall be governed through their will and consent.
Whenever citizens of any country (Uganda in precise) conduct election, it means that, the leaders who have been elected hold the power in trust of the citizens and that they agree to represent the citizens in a manner that reflects their views and interests. However, the biggest dilemma we have faced as a country is how to involve citizens in the day to day running of the Government on top of just conducting and participating in elections.
Article 84 clause (1) of the 1995 Constitution which empowered the electorate of any constituency and of any interest group with the right to recall their member of Parliament before the expiry of the term of Parliament , was previously one of the available avenues for the citizens of Uganda to be directly involved in the governance of their country. However, with the adoption of multiparty democracy, it automatically became inoperative. The article gave the electorate the right to recall their representatives before the expiry of their term of office on such grounds as misconduct, ridicule and deserting the electorate without reasonable cause. With the down of this new system, a huge and big lacuna had been created, which up to date has remained to be bug.
“The power of the people is much stronger than the people in power” is a famous quote attributed to Egyptian internet activist and computer engineer Wael Ghonim. What however appears to be quite irregular in countries like Uganda, is that the elected leaders enjoy overwhelmingly huge influence over power, which in essence denies the citizenry the opportunity of holding them accountable.
There is therefore a great need to ensure that the legal framework is well streamlined to accommodate avenues which citizens can directly hold their leaders accountable an example, reinstatement of Article 84 to help return the power to the people to recall the MPs.