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.