IVAN BWOWE: Be authentic; as you critic, accept criticism

By Ivan Bwowe

As the old idiom goes, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Today we are experiencing the highest level of political populism and wanting hypocrisy.

Some want to criticize but they do not entertain the same favour to be returned to them. They want to be accountable to non but want to hold others accountable. They employ the tactics they decry. They advocate for freedom of speech and expression and employ tactics that threaten those who criticise their work methods hence those who advocate for freedom of expression are the same people that threaten it. It is ironic. We have to call them out and avoid any possibility of building cults and non-accountable leadership.

If questions are asked and responses mainly from sponsored fictitious social media accounts are insults and defaming people then we have a serious problem in this country. It is also problematic that political stars want to dictate what should be asked and what should not be asked. That is way short of good leadership. The Good news, however, is that some of us are ready to continue asking questions with more emphasis on the uncomfortable questions and to hold you accountable. We expect that you practice what you preach. For those in opposition, how you conduct yourself or your affairs gives us a semblance of how you would/ intend to lead if you get into positions of running government. We cannot vouch for an opposition leadership which in itself is an oppressor of those opposed to it or critic it. It is also a good discipline to accept positive criticism.

This option and discipline, however, is not available to those who build cult- like formations. Those who take pride in the “I” instead of “We”. I need not remind you Uganda has experienced enough of the I-Syndrome. It has proved to be not the best form of leadership. The Tibuhaburwa concept meaning not advisable/correctable is not far away from Fadaha Tasobya Concept meaning the Father cannot be wrong. The two concepts are blood cousins and given a chance to pick any, I would pick none.

In recent weeks, the citizens have shown their power in demanding accountability and this is so commendable. On one hand the “Boycourters” are pushing hard on the judiciary. Agora is doing amazingly well to give us insight into the legislature. The Executive branch of government is the intersection. It is therefore important to interest ourselves in the running of political parties and hold them to account regardless of whether you support them or not.

Political parties get funding from taxpayers by law in particular, Section 14A of the Political Parties and Organizations Act (PPOA)of 2005(As amended) and the same must account per Section 12 of the same act. It is no doubt that there is indeed actual and perceived corruption in Political parties as per research titled Political Party Financing in Uganda By John Ssenkumba. In financial year 2022/23, Seven (7) political parties received to a tune of 44.99 Billion Uganda Shillings.

Therefore, the operations of all political parties are our concern whether a subscribed member or not. Matters of JEEMA are of concern to me as a taxpayer. Commonly, political parties have failed to account for the monies received from the consolidated funds. Some falsify accounts or violate the reporting guidelines. Opposition political parties are not immune. Should this go unchecked? I suppose not.

Political parties should be held accountable and transparent both in leadership operations and how they use the funds allocated to them as a charge from the consolidated funds.

The abuse/misuse of tax payer’s money is not limited to the ruling party or government. It extends to the opposition political parties as organizations where the party officials are complicit and active prayers in corruption. It is therefore my considered option that we check the government, we intensify checks also on the opposition political parties and their respective leadership. If you preside over a corrupt party, then what are you?

Political parties operating through their respective legal and lawful organs should be in a position to be transparent and accountable to us the taxpayers. If not existent or they exist but have no input in the management of the said funds or accountability. Then we should hold those who manage public funds disbursed to political parties outside the provisions of the law to wit; the Party Constitution, Political Parties and Organizations Act, and the reporting guidelines accountable. This is what the rule of law demands.

The beauty of the law is that it places accountability Committees in Parliament in full control of the Opposition/Alternative Government, how I would love political party leaderships to be questioned. This goes without saying that I pledge pro bono services during committee proceedings, particularly on research and cross-examination in service of my country.

The writer, Ivan Bwowe is a lawyer.

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