The Leader of the Opposition, Hon Mathias Mpuuga has held discussions with members of the European Union delegation to Uganda on a range of issues touching Uganda’s governance issues, rule of law, human rights and the Opposition’s legislative strategy and targets for the 11th Parliament.
Flanked by selected members of his shadow cabinet, Mpuuga told the EU diplomats that as representatives of the people, the Opposition in Parliament has a duty to push for improvements in service delivery and accountability.
“The theme under which we operate in the 11th Parliament is accountability and service. The absence of accountability compromises not just the quality but even the depth and the reach of service delivery,” Mpuuga said.
The EU delegation was led by the EU Ambassador to Uganda, Attilio Pacifici who was in the company of ambassadors Roswitha Kremser (Austria), Veestraeten Rudi (Belgium), Nicolaj Hejberg Petersen (Denmark), Mathias Schauer (Germany), Maria Hakansson (Sweden) and Anna Merrifield, the deputy EU head of mission.
Mpuuga took the diplomats through the opposition’s legislative agenda which he said, was drafted as a pathway that the opposition intends to follow in its push for reforms.
“We have to prioritise, we must pick out the issues that have backward and forward linkages to what we want to achieve… the legislative agenda houses the key issues that will guide the opposition programme for the coming years and key among them are constitutional and electoral reforms,” the Nyendo-Mukungwe MP told the ambassadors.
“We believe that if we fix some of the outstanding constitutional questions and electoral challenges, we can probably go a long way in reshaping our young democracy,” he added.
He said that the opposition intends to lobby the ruling NRM party to agree to proposals to reforms intended to purge the gaps in Uganda’s electoral and political laws.
“We are planning on how to bring the ruling party on table to rethink the future of Uganda. We want legislation that will empower the Electoral Commission such that it doesn’t remain a paper tiger and fail to regulate and take care of its responsibilities before, during and after elections,” Mpuuga said.
The opposition leader also told his guests about the opposition’s quest to address the challenges dogging the decentralisation system which he said have led to the collapse of the service delivery chain.
“Our decentralisation system is fast crumbling and part of the reason is the absence of an entrenched constitutional obligation that obliges the ruling party to devolve resources to the districts to be able to undertake particular duties,” he said adding that, ‘we have lately seen the president busy awarding contracts at press conferences, through circulars and leaflets. We believe that these are retrogressive developments. If the President is scared of his surroundings and needs to be rescued, we need to develop a legal framework that can guarantee citizens to participate and allow the President to attend to other national obligations other than award contracts for schools and roads’.
Hon Mpuuga hands over a gift to one of the ambassadors after the meeting
The Head of the EU delegation, HE Attilio Pacifici said that they are committed to engagements with various stakeholders despite the challenges.
“Having these exchanges gives our partners the opportunity to sometimes influence our thoughts and actions; that is why our discussions should always be very open and candid; we are very keen to meet everyone even though it may make someone unhappy,” Pacifici said.