Lobby for elec­tion – the bad side about it

By: Winnie Watera

Vy­ing for any po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion be it, Pres­i­dent, Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment (MP) or at the lo­cal coun­cil level can take a toll on any­one. Can­di­dates are so hell bent on try­ing to get there that they use all means within their power. Oth­ers will use their words cre­atively while oth­ers will hood­wink vot­ers into think­ing that they can make any­thing pos­si­ble.

Re­cently, at a de­bate or­ga­nized by Par­lia­ment Watch Uganda in Mbale for Mbale Mu­nic­i­pal­ity MP seat one of the con­tes­tants, Mr. Nan­goli Umar men­tioned as one of his roles and an as­pi­ra­tions as MP will be lob­by­ing for so­cial ser­vices. Lob­by­ing can be de­fined as the act of at­tempt­ing to in­flu­ence de­ci­sions made by of­fi­cials in a gov­ern­ment, most of­ten leg­is­la­tors or mem­bers of reg­u­la­tory agen­cies. He fur­ther promised to use his per­sonal re­la­tion­ship with the Pres­i­dent, some­thing his con­tenders don’t have to turn things around for the con­stituency. It is im­por­tant to note that this can­di­date is on an in­de­pen­dent ticket, al­though Na­tional Re­sis­tance Move­ment (NRM) lean­ing.

By mak­ing this state­ment on live ra­dio meant he wanted his po­ten­tial vot­ers to be­come aware of what he could do for them and in the process com­pletely dis­re­gard­ing the abil­ity of his con­tenders, who of course be­longed to the op­po­si­tion;  Mr. Wasikye who sub­scribes to the Go-Foward pres­sure group and Mr. Wa­mai of FDC and in­cum­bent. He re­it­er­ated this abil­ity hop­ing it would give him an edge over the rest. Al­though lob­by­ing is not one of the  con­sti­tu­tion­ally man­dated roles of an MP elect, its used of­ten es­pe­cially by those sub­scrib­ing to the rul­ing party.

While other democ­ra­cies may frown at such state­ments, it is the or­der of the day here in Uganda. Dur­ing cam­paigns it is easy to promise the con­stituents a lot of sweet noth­ings in a bid to get into of­fice, how­ever, in the event that the MP elect does not full fill the promises made, which in most cases is likely, dis­grun­tled vot­ers de­cide not to vote him/​her back into of­fice. The 9th Par­lia­ment has shown dis­crep­an­cies be­tween ac­claimed ac­tions, ac­tual re­sults and the vot­ers’ sat­is­fac­tion. This has been cited as one of the rea­sons for the high turnover of MPs dur­ing elec­tions.

A ma­jor­ity of mem­bers of Par­lia­ment be­long to the rul­ing party, un­for­tu­nately most of them use lob­by­ing as one the things they are able to do. And with the way things work the “scratch my back and I scratch yours” way. At the end of the day, many vot­ers choose to fore go the due process of democ­racy in the bid to gain from the sys­tem. There are re­ported cases where vot­ers say they are tired of wast­ing their votes so they would rather vote for the rul­ing party in or­der to get ser­vices de­liv­ered to their ar­eas. Whether or not the voted per­son is the re­al­is­tic choice is largely dis­re­garded for that pur­pose.

The 9th Par­lia­ment of Uganda was ranked the worst ever by an ar­ti­cle pub­lished on All Africa an on­line news plat­form. Deputy Speaker Rt. Hon Ja­cob Oulanya re­it­er­ated this when he said the fact that the qual­ity of de­bate in the same Par­lia­ment is also not up to stan­dard. Al­though, rea­sons for the afore­men­tioned con­clu­sions could be more, we should not be obliv­i­ous of the con­tri­bu­tions ten­den­cies like un­ful­filled promises es­pe­cially from promises of lob­by­ing for so­cial ser­vices, add to such con­clu­sions. Note­wor­thy is that all de­vel­op­ment plans are clearly spelled out in the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plans (1 and 2) of the coun­try and un­less tweaked in fa­vor of promises and pledges, it is im­pos­si­ble to have them ful­filled. Our ut­most wish as con­stituents is that the 10th Par­lia­ment does not fol­low this prece­dence.