Po­lit­i­cal Heirs are an im­mi­nent threat to Ugan­dan Pol­i­tics

By: Winnie Watera

It has now be­come a  com­mon prac­tice in Uganda that when a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment dies, some­one  from the de­ceased’s fam­ily is cho­sen to re­place him/​her in Par­lia­ment. It is re­ported that the un­timely death of the Busiro South Con­stituency, Ki­wanuka Mu­sisi back in 2005 set the trend af­ter he was re­placed by his son Joseph Ba­likudembe[1].  ‘Po­lit­i­cal heirs’ are not lim­ited to those that emerge af­ter death, there are those merely fronted by their par­ents be­cause they have achieved so­ci­etal sta­tus and hope their spawn pick up the man­tle. Con­se­quently, over the years these ‘po­lit­i­cal heirs’ have sprung up with the most re­cent be­ing the case of the late Hon­or­able Na­m­a­ganda, whose sis­ter has been cho­sen to take her place as the Buko­man­simbi woman MP[2] and Hus­sein Kyanjo who is fronting his son Farouk Kyanjo to suc­ceed him as MP for Makindye West Con­stituency.

Gone are the days when a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment was the peo­ples’ choice.  Fam­i­lies now front fronted their own and have suc­ceeded by gar­ner­ing sym­pa­thy votes from the con­stituents. This is es­pe­cially the case in the event of death, it is no sur­prise that the re­place­ments are tac­ti­cally an­nounced dur­ing fu­ner­als. At this point, the chances of a wor­thy op­po­nent ac­tu­ally win­ning are re­duced to slim to none. The cho­sen per­son does­n’t have to cam­paign with sub­stance but rather shed a tear. The im­pli­ca­tions for this prac­tice are quite di­verse and it says a lot about the kind of pol­i­tics are run­ning in Uganda.

Re­frain­ing from tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the ca­pa­bil­ity and ap­ti­tude of an in­di­vid­ual set to rep­re­sent an en­tire con­stituency in Par­lia­ment for five or more years is a recipe for dis­as­ter. MPs have roles[3] for which they are sent to Par­lia­ment to ac­com­plish and there­fore, must de­sist from look­ing at these roles as jobs meant to make quick money. In such sce­nar­ios, the in­di­vid­u­als are of­ten ac­cused of at­tempt­ing to keep the hefty pay cheque in the fam­ily.

The state of democ­racy in our po­lit­i­cal par­ties is also put to ques­tion.  in the cases of un­timely death, it takes ap­prox­i­mately a week be­fore bur­ial of a de­ceased MP and this is be­cause the body has to lie in State oth­er­wise it would take less, all this putting into con­sid­er­a­tion our Mus­lim coun­ter­parts. What time does the party sit to make such im­por­tant de­ci­sions like who rep­re­sents them and in what ca­pac­ity? Be­cause it is an en­tire process of its own. It’s a clear in­di­ca­tion that such in­di­vid­u­als are hand­picked based on sym­pa­thy and not abil­ity.

Most times, what we ex­pect from these pro­tégés is that they should fit in their pre­de­ces­sors’ shoes. They swear to com­plete pro­jects, to be up­stand­ing cit­i­zens and promise all sorts of things but on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions do not fol­low through. A few ex­am­ples to cite are, Jimmy Ak­ena, the late Mil­ton Obote’s son who is barely hold­ing the Uganda Peo­ple’s Con­gress Party to­gether, some­thing his fa­ther did well and Alen­got, the then 19-year-old who af­ter re­plac­ing her fa­ther, Hon­or­able Oro­mait ap­pears in the Hansard only a few times dur­ing the swear­ing in and vot­ing on the Con­sti­tu­tional Amend­ment. Note­wor­thy is that, af­fected con­stituents can im­peach this kind of rep­re­sen­ta­tive, how­ever, it is a cum­ber­some process that many de­cide  not to go through with.

Al­though there is no le­gal ground to con­test this prac­tice we should ac­knowl­edge that such de­ci­sions are premised on self­ish­ness and po­lit­i­cal po­si­tions should not be a birth right for just a few.



[3] http://​par­lia­ment­watch.ug/​do-you-know-what-your-mp-does-their-role-ex­plained/