Reduction in Opposition- what that means for the 10th Parliament

Published 4 years ago -

The opposition is formed by the largest party or coalition of parties that does not have the support of the majority of members in Parliament and it plays a very crucial role in any Legislature. In Uganda, the opposition is provided for the by Article 82 A[1] of the 1995 Constitution and the abridged constitution of 1996 of the Republic of Uganda.

The main role of the opposition is to question the executive and hold them accountable to the public, however, other roles include but are not limited to; scrutinizing or closely examining the work of the government; debating bills in the Parliament, working on committees that examine bills and important national issues; and providing alternatives to government policies.

Judging from the recently concluded general elections, the opposition has significantly been reduced in Parliament. The reduction does not necessarily mean in nominal value, however, in the context of contribution towards quality debate in the house. A few great examples are; the leader of Opposition, Wafula Oguttu, Leader of Independents, Sam Otada, Shadow Minister for Finance, Ekanya Geoffrey, PAC chairperson, Alaso Alice. This notwithstanding, opposition parties like Justice Forum (JEEMA) and the Conservative Party which lost their members, Ken Lukyamuzi and Hussein Kyanjo[2]

The ruling party[3], although, lost some of its prominent members, Ministers inclusive[4], continues to hold a majority in the next Parliament. It is important to note that also a majority of Parliament’s women representatives hail from the ruling party. Having a majority as is with the ruling party, could mean a couple of things for Uganda’s legislature and for the electorate.

Firstly, it means that government will continue to drive the legislation in Parliament. Before any bill is passed, at least, one-third of Members of Parliament must vote in favor of the legislation. Consequently, having a majority in Parliament implies having smooth sailing for the government. The fact that the opposition has to work twice as hard as the ruling party to have the same result makes is largely exacerbated by the fact that their numbers have dwindled over time. The 10th Parliament will, therefore, see a lot of decisions taken in favor of the government.

Secondly, the executive action will continue to go unchecked even in the coming Parliament. On a number of occasions, Parliament has been accused of being government’s rubber stamp and not taking decisions objectively and many have predicted that the status quo will remain as long as the ruling party continues to hold the majority of the seats in Parliament as is the case in the 10th. Separation of the roles of the different arms of government is something Uganda is yet to master and until then, it’s very likely that many decisions will be influenced by the executive

Last but not least, the recently concluded election mapped out areas in Uganda that are loyal to the opposition and those loyal to the ruling party. The results evidenced that urban areas are loyal to the opposition whilst the rural areas are loyal to the ruling party which begs the question, what does it mean for areas that are opposition strongholds in terms of service delivery? It has been proven in young democracies like ours, the opposition finds it hard to access funds while members of the ruling party have a financial advantage as well as access to state resources. The chairperson of the ruling and President of Uganda for three decades and counting, H.E Kaguta Museveni has been quoted saying people in certain areas are responsible for their poverty because of their choice of leaders who mainly subscribe to the opposition.

That said, having a majority in Parliament is not a bad thing especially if all tenets of democracy are exercised. However, our Parliament has left a lot to be desired. We should not be quick to disregard the power of the opposition and the role they play in any democracy like ours. They are an important part of the system.

[1] Office of the leader of Opposition

[2] Hussein Kyanjo did not seek re-election, he, however, fronted his son, Farouk Kyanjo who lost the Makindye West seat.

[3] The National Resistance Movement



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