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Leader of Opposition Mathias Mpuuga speaks to journalists at Parliament on August 3, 2022. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

  • The Opposition have asked President Museveni to address issues that actually affect Ugandans.

The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, has expressed disappointment in the State of the Nation Address, saying it fell short of the expectations of the citizens.  

The Opposition on Wednesday also made a number of proposals to address governance issues, food crisis and offered alternative policies on issues government has fallen short on. 

Mr Mpuuga was critical of the Soroti City East by-elections, in which the ruling NRM party emerged triumphant amid allegations of bribery, ballot stuffing and a number of other irregularities, including violence against Opposition by security forces.

He said while boundary alterations affected both Soroti East and West, government only targeted Soroti East Division because it was represented by the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change member.

“As the Opposition, we are saddened by the way our member, Hon Attan Moses Okia, lost his Soroti City East Parliamentary seat. This was compounded by the brutal force of the State in the by-election of Soroti City East Municipality,” Mr Mpuuga said. 

He called for the amendment of the Electoral Commission Act to redefine the role of police and other armed personnel during elections. 

“Electoral Commission (EC) should be solely in charge of and in direct command of the co-opted police and other internal security personnel deployed in electoral processes. Not the other way round,” he said.

Mr Mpuuga said while the Constitution mandates the President to present the State of the Nation address, the last statement presented in June fell short of the expectations of the citizens in accounting for the performance of government. 

“Instead, the address was loaded with liberation war hangover, historical reflections, economic fascinations and imperialism undertones. It was at crossroads with the realities of the citizens. We are convinced that the State of the Nation Address should report on progress made in realising the national objectives and directive principles of State Policy,” he said.  

The Leader of Opposition criticised the style of governance, which he said  is characterised by “threats”.

“This has been exhibited in the conduct of elections, handling of grievances of public servants and rebutting of political dissent, among others. As a result, citizens are unable to fully participate in the determination of their leaders and influence matters that affect them,” Mr Mpuuga said.

He added: “The citizens’ recourse in Courts of Law as a means of checking the excessive powers of government has also been held captive by the State. As a result, the judicial system is increasingly becoming opaque, less trustable, and distant from the people from whom it derives its judicial power and closer to the ruler.”

The Opposition also tasked government ministries and agencies to consider regional balance in access to state resources and allocation of employment opportunities. 

“For instance, it has once been established that 59 percent of the heads of parastatals originate from western region followed by central and eastern region each at 8 percent while northern region came last with 2 percent...,” he said.

Mr Mpuuga said while the state objectives and principles emphasise national unity, the mantra of the NRM regime “tubonga naawe” [we associate with you] is individualistic and is targeted at praising and servising the ego of the ruler. 

“This denotes a political environment in which citizens and institutions are subject to the whims of the ruler. No wonder there is massive institutional breakdown and proliferation of presidential directives that are illegally executed by timid civil and public servants,” he said. 

Mr Mpuuga said the President has left Ugandans on their own when it comes to issues of their welfare and rising commodity prices.

“This is utter insensitivity. The Opposition will seek space on the Order Paper to present a statement on the current state of the economy. It will articulate possible interventions that will support citizens in their current economic crisis and avert their imminent risk to national stability,” he said.

The debate of both the state of nation address and Opposition response started yesterday. By Franklin Draku, Daily Monitor

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