By Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi
As the 10th Parliament of Uganda is winding up, it has hit Local and International headlines over passing the famous Sexual Offences Bill 2019, which among others criminalize homosexuality.
The controversial bill was passed on 4th May 2021 after a two-day debate. Some of the penalties highlighted in the Bill include if one is convicted of rape or committing incest, the maximum sentence is life imprisonment; Attempted rape is eight-year jail; aggravated rape is death; indecent assault 14 year imprisonment with or without corporal punishment; Gesture/Sound, one year imprisonment: Indecent Communication, six million shillings fine or seven-year imprisonment or both.
Sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, sexual exploitation of detainees, 10 years imprisonment or 40 million shillings fine; Unnatural offenses, 10 years imprisonment; Simple defilement, life imprisonment; Aggravated defilement, death; Prostitution, penalty as in penal code act; touches to anus, penis buttocks, thighs, vagina, one year imprisonment or a fine of 480,000 Shillings.
This is one of the bills and resolutions passed by Parliament in the last five years supporting implementation of NRM Election Manifesto 2016-2021).
The Parliament’s cardinal roles are legislation, passing the budget and watchdog, and as the implementation of the NRM manifesto which is subject to the five-year National Development Plan 2016-2021, national budgets have to be passed every financial year.
According to press reports, people are wondering whether that was one of the priorities for the parliament that is winding up.
The National Resistance Movement (NRM) launched its fifth Manifesto, 2016-2021 since 1996 which is a published declaration of the intentions, motives, or priorities to be achieved in five years.
Each of these manifestos has had a theme communicating the overarching intention of the party over the 5 years tenure. The Theme of the 2016 NRM Manifesto was: “Taking Uganda to modernity through job-creation and inclusive development.”
To signal the daunting task ahead, and to elicit commitment from Ugandan’s towards the achievement of the task, H.E in July 2016 christened this term “Hakuna Mchezo” means no jokes or laxity.
In addition, H.E the President, in the same period further issued 23 Strategic Guidelines and Directives anchored within the Manifesto theme. The Manifesto is aligned to the Second National Development Plan (NDPII) and the commitments were mainstreamed into Plans and budgets of sectors, ministries, departments, agencies, and local governments.
One of the main items in the manifesto is good governance, democracy and security, the NRM has made great strides in implementing what it promised five years ago.
They created and maintained the environment in which people have a say in national issues that directly affect them. This they do directly through elections and indirectly through their elected representatives, Parliament inclusive.
When the country was attacked by Covid 19 early 2020, the government came up with a supplementary budget to handle the crisis, where some quarters wanted a declaration of the state of emergency.
The supplementary budget was passed, but at the end of the year, the Auditor General raised queries on the accountability by the implementers especially in the Office of the Prime Minister which is charged with Disaster Preparedness and in the Ministry of Health, which will be handled by the Public Accounts Committee of next Parliament. I hope the 11th Parliament will come and do a commendable job.
The 10th Parliament has not only implemented 2016-2021 manifesto by making legislations and appropriating government money as prepared by the President through his Minister of Finance, but has also passed the 2021/2022 Financial Year, which is under 2021-2026 NRM election manifesto which is “Securing Our Future.”
Therefore, since NRM is the majority party in Parliament, its programs as prepared by the Executive arm of the State. This has been more possible because, both the Speaker Rt. Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga and her deputy Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah are NRM flag bearers.
This is not expected to change in the 11th parliament even if either Kadaga or Oulanyah or both are neither speakers or deputy speaker as NRM will be the majority party. However, the way Central Executive Committee of NRM and the NRM Parliamentary Caucus will handle the cutthroat rivalry between the two leading personalities over the office of the Speaker will build or tear the party in power.
With its rich experience as a liberation movement before it turned into a party, NRM has the capacity to solve its internal contradictions, and the legislative arm of government remains to implement the party manifesto.
The Writer is a Communications Assistant, Digital Communications Unit, Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.