Never has there ceased to be an argument on what determines the other, this amongst the social, economic and political aspects of society. However, it’s gradually becoming apparent especially in developing countries like Uganda where the economic and social aspects of society are determined by political organization. Political organization includes leadership and governance. Often, even when countries with natural wealth like the Democratic Republic of Congo fail to solve the political problem, they have equally impliedly failed to address the economic and social problem and also, where the latter were stable and the political aspect destabilizes, then they too are bound to destabilize. This thus is the reason why most Ugandans are interested in the political aspect of the country, directly or not. Therefore, a talk of change in the system of governance, especially regarding election of the President, is a pertinent matter deserving maximum National attention.
Whereas the presidential system allows citizens of majority age to directly vote for their preferred candidate for Head-of-state as was and is done currently, with the rumored introduction of a parliamentary system of governance, the head of state is elected by the legislative body (Members of Parliament). Often times, it is the party with highest number of members of parliament that chooses the Head-of-state. Implying that the executive will directly get legitimate existence from the legislature.
Unfortunately, this ushers Ugandans into a bigger social contract with the legislature than never before, because a member of parliament shall have a duty to vote for a candidate in representation of the majority of the voters in his constituency. This being just a persuasive and not binding duty, and basing on the nature of Ugandan politics both current and before, it is very likely that some parliamentarians would misrepresent their voters. In this social contract, the voters surrender their right of voting for President to their member of parliament, who in expectation but with no assurance, is to vote for the preferred presidential candidate of the constituency he represents.
Little can be said to smear this system with mud, but neither can a lot be said in its praise. Taking examples from countries that practice it is like a short man thinking he can touch the ceiling standing on the ground because the tall one does. The slow growth of our democracy defeats justification of some democratic practices even when they’ve successfully worked elsewhere. And this, despite being known, has failed to be acknowledged by the beneficiaries.
The corrupt nature of our legislative body in the past decades and their current thirst for money hardly convinces Ugandans that our parliamentarians are integral enough to resist unreasonable sums of money (bribery) in exchange of a vote for presidency. Don’t later be surprised to hear of money exchanges within and to parliamentarians in exchange for supporting the proposal of a parliamentary system of governance.
The ultimate price of a parliamentary system of governance is surrender of the only thing Ugandans are left with, the vote.
Writer: BARYAMUJURA MAHAD.