THE CONTINUED LOSS OF PARLIAMENTARIAN SEATS BY THE NRM-( UGANDA )- IS IT AN EXPRESSION OF ANGER?
The outlet to enable the disgruntled candidates in the districts and parliamentary concluded general elections to seek for redress in the courts of law was left open by the Uganda National Constitution.This gave an opportunity to any person aggrieved by the decisions of Uganda Electoral Commission in respect of his/her complaints to appeal to the high court.
Appeals to the high court began to flock in immediately after the general elections ( 2010) that socked the jury.It was an expression that either the elections was poorly organized or the voting was marred by mischief and misdemeanor.All the cases registered in the high court were judged against the defendants.A decision that obliged the Uganda Electoral Commission to organize fresh elections in the constituencies affected.
The unfortunate part of the process is that The National Resistance Movement party (NRM) A political party in leadership,began to lose parliamentary seats whenever the elections was organized.All the seats went to political parties in opposition- Forum for Democratic Change ( FDC),led by the Retired Coronal Kizza Besigye taking all the seats except a few that went to Democratic Party (DP) led by Norbert Mao.
The continued loss of parliamentary seats by the NRM did not shock and impair the NRM top people alone but sent those who ha all along thought that the ruling party had permanent political strength basing on the 68 percent it received during the presidential general election to Topsy-turvy and asked whether the loss was simply an expressionless of anger.
If you are reading this article and you are a Ugandan you may share with me the same reasons that I think brought the intractable losses so far,to Mr Museveni Yoweri’s political party or you may have differing reasons -all the same the fact shall remain that there is some thing eating the political strength of this party that was the darling of many compatriots of Uganda especially the women. In the bye-elections only the former Vice president of Uganda Baalibaseka Gilbert Bukenya of the ruling party managed to retain his position as a Honorable member of parliament representing Busiro north constituency,the other nine NRM candidates lost!
In the early years of NRM government,the National Resistance Movement political party boasted of the block vote of women in favor of it and women were highly boisterous whenever some one spoke ill of NRM.As things stand now and having a glimpse from the concluded bye elections,the women as the largest population in Uganda have abandoned the NRM as regards parliament in favor of those in opposition.The parliament,so they say,is where decisions concerning their growth as individuals and the growth of the country are made.But NRM which has the largest numbers of parliament has failed to deliver.All the political pronouncements in favor of women emancipation made by the NRM have been either abandoned or given very little attention.Such pronouncements remain on policy papers.Take for instance, the Gender policy.
Women were promised equality and empowerment in political,economical and social spheres but it has been and continues to be the premises of elite women who are not the majority women voters the NRM was famous of and do not reside in the rural areas of the country.Despite of the promises enshrined in the Uganda Gender Policy of 2007 challenges to attain equality still persist under the eyes of NRM its initiator.An analysis of the Uganda Bureau of Standards ( UBOS ) Of the population currently leaving below the poverty line indicate that poverty impacts differently on different groups.The Social Development sector Strategic Plan (SDIP) indicates that under the NRM government 33 percent women tend to be poorer than men.
This is more severe for women who lost their husbands during the civil wars that has been taking place in Uganda,including people living in households which are headed by widows.Further more there are estimated 2.8 million orphans ( 15 percent of Uganda children) the Social development sector strategic investment plan (SDIP) indicate that 41 percent of boys – orphans and 36 percent of girls orphans fall below poverty line ( all these children are a burden to Ugandan women ) Generally women in Uganda are extremely poor.
The participatory poverty assessment done in 2002 revealed that women’s inadequate control over livelihood assets such as land,labor,skills and information,networks,technology and financial capital remains one of the root cause of poverty.For example,although 90 percent of women are engaged in agricultural production,only 25 percent control the land they cultivate.This scenario creates enormous challenges for women as they increasingly take on the burden of the family,provisioning thus seriously undermining the sustainability of the house holds,NRM government so they say has done very little to remove the constraints to women livelihood and without shame goes on to canvass for their votes.
The Uganda women voters while expressing anger to the NRM government clearly indicated that NRM has a lot to do on the rights to human development.The right to human development encompasses a wide range of entitlements ranging from security of the persons to ability to access justice.However,a number of laws,legal processing and enforcement procedure continue to discriminate against specific categories of women.Critical gender related barriers to access justice,including substantive laws issues relating to gender biased laws( particularity concerning divorce,adultery and defilement) and difference in burden of proof requirements,administration of law issues including physical access,training and orientation of staff and delays in the delivery of justice.Other barriers which NRM has not handled to the satisfaction of the “weak sex “is the law status of women,power imbalances in the households as well as inadequate knowledge and information of legal rights.
Other areas women had big hopes to see it solved hastily by the NRM government they supported immensely but got angered by the delay is Gender based violence in all forms you may like to mention – domestic violence,sexual harassment,trafficking,rape and defilement.More than 40 percent Ugandan women have suffered domestic violence during NRM regime.Over 50 percent women aged 15-49 years experience physical violence to date,while 16 percent of women are sexually molested during pregnancy .Women know that ending conflict and insecurity is a key land\mark in the achievement of Gender quality but they are angered at waiting for so long without any meaningful change.
The largest number of women compared to male who are illiterate is not debatable.Women know that educational literacy are key human development indicators.Historical factors has hindered women’s enjoyment of their right to education and literacy.The illiteracy rate for persons with disabilities is big on the other hand.
I have not expounded in details something to do with cultural norms and values that discriminate women.In the political arena women face constraints in engaging in elective process due to factors such as limited resources for campaigning,spousal control and the misconception that leadership is a male domain.Regarding health rights,high maternal mortality and morbidity rates have not been handled adequately by the NRM government.Evidence from the Uganda Demographically Health survey done in 2006 shows that infant mortality is 137 per 1000 birth.Similarly another survey puts mart-anal ratio at 505 per 100000 live birth.The high total fertility rate of 6.9 has a bearing on rapidly increasing growth rate ( 3.3 percent) per an-um,which in turn has negative constituencies on provision of health services for women and increases the dependence ratio.Women say that the highest incidences of teenage pregnancies is associated with high risk to health and life to both mother and child.
Uganda women have not seen the reduction in Gender inequalities ( so that women,girls) are able to move out of poverty and to achieve improved and sustainable livelihood.Judging from the recent bye- elections, women in their large numbers have voted in protest against National Resistance Movement party candidates.Word is now going around that women will front their kind to compete for the post of presidency,come 2016.The most preferred is the present speaker of Parliament Miss Rebeca Kadaga.
You may ask why women have lost confidence in the siting government and instead preferred to protest the way they do in the bye-elections,yet the former Minister of Gender,Labor and Social development Miss Syda Bumba clearly indicated in 2007 that NRM is committed to taking action that will bring about more equal gender relations.Sighting The Uganda Gender Policy as a policy put in place to ensure that all Government policies and programs in all areas and at all levels are consistent with the long term goals of eliminating gender inequalities .How long term is Long term? Uganda women ask,Why has the Social change eluded women for now 26 years of NRM governance? Don’t you think women are simply fed up with promises which are not forth coming and unequivocally chose to protest through a bye-election vote? Your guess is s good as mine.Eh!