Observer Editorial | Democracy needs political parties engaged – (FDC’s Minority Leader)
The leadership of the Forum for Democratic Change, Uganda’s largest opposition political party, last week named its chiefs in parliament; among others, Kasese Woman MP Winfred Kiiza is leader of opposition, while Kira municipality’s Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda is the chief whip. Former opposition whip Cecilia Ogwal (Dokolo Woman) will now sit on the Parliamentary Commission.
As an organization with an interest in the democratic health of our country, we commend FDC leaders for this decision, given the controversy that preceded it. Some vocal party members and leaders had argued that the party should not take up these positions in parliament because that would mean legitimizing the Museveni government yet they believe FDC’s flag bearer won February’s elections.
They also said the party would be seen as having betrayed its founding president, Kizza Besigye, who is now languishing in Luzira prison.
It is easy for any neutral political observer to sympathise with these arguments. While perfect elections do not exist anywhere in the world, blatantly flawed ones are an antithesis to democratic culture.
But the reality is that there is a government and parliament in place, never mind the imperfect election that brought them. Now, the dilemma for opposition parties is whether to use the platform of parliament to expose what is wrong and push for what is right, or to cede that space to someone else.
If democracy is supposed to be a fair contest over a country’s political soul, then even in the most desperate of times, it needs all sides to engage rather than disengage.
For the most part, political power cedes little or nothing without pressure. That is why opposition pressure is part of true democratic culture. And parliament, where FDC has three dozen legislators, can be one of the more important pressure points in our democracy. The last 30 years have seen intense contestation over the political space, but engagement has seen the opposition make some modest gains.
President Museveni, for instance, openly admitted that the freeing of political parties was because of pressure. But FDC can also look at the gains Besigye made on his 2011 vote tally, by engaging the people of Uganda in 2016 elections.
Source — The Weekly Observer Editorial