So Uganda’s opposition Members of Parliament, Odonga Otto and Ken Lukyamuza, want President Museveni out of State House over corruption. If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride; so they say. Yet again there is no harm in wishing. However, each time I read or listen to news from most of Uganda’s media outlets reinforces my misgivings on how the news from opposition politicians is reported. The impression one gets is that many journalists often never mind to put the opposition politicians to task or even question the feasibility of the sweeping statements they make. Now here we have two opposition legislators soliciting signatures to impeach President Yoweri Museveni over what they term as economic crimes largely informed by corruption.
A statement that these MPs want their colleagues to sign in order to impeach Museveni cites clause 1(a) of Article 107 which provides for removal of the President from his job on grounds of abuse of office or willful violation of the oath of allegiance and the presidential oath or any provision of this Constitution.
But a basic examination of the facts will tell a sober journalist that purveying such allegations is not enough.
As journalists I think we can do better by explaining some statements made by politicians for political expedience. With the surge of social media sites, which have themselves become avenues of news, it is no longer enough for a newspaper journalist to merely report that MPs are collecting signatures to remove the President from office. You need to go beyond that and tell us the implications of the move and if it is really tenable.
|MPs Lukyamuzi (writing) and Otto (middle) Source: Daily Monitor|
Here we have Article 107 of the Uganda Constitution which states procedures of impeaching the President and our dear MPs have singled out clause (1b) but what does the rest of the law say? It is possible the comedian MPs can get the required signatures of over one-third of parliamentarians but do they have documentary evidence to give to the Speaker as required by clause 2b (b) of Article 107? This section states that MPs seeking to remove the President should notify the Speaker “setting out the particulars of the charge supported by the necessary documents on which it is claimed that the conduct of the President be investigated for the purposes of his or her removal.” But again the Uganda parliament as we know is dominated by members of President Museveni’s ruling party and logically it’s highly doubtable the MPs would jump on an opposition ship that wants to sink the president and party. There are 211 NRM legislators as opposed to 59 from five opposition parties represented in parliament.
Yes, the MPs allege the President diverted Shs100 billion from donors meant for some projects in Northern Uganda to buy a presidential jet, depleted the Central bank reserves to buy fighter jets, and is protecting some ministers like Amama Mbabazi, Sam Kutesa and Hillary Onek on the oil bribery allegations. But is this credible or at worse sufficient evidence to build reasonable ground for impeachment?
With all due respect, MPs Otto and Lukyamuzi are leading the most comic drive to impeach President Museveni since, in my humble opinion, their reasons are insufficient. Even if Otto and Lukyamuzi had reasonable ground to impeach the President, the NRM dominated-parliament will hardly side with them as several ruling party legislators have indicated. Although the 9th Parliament MPs have unanimously voted on some controversial issues like in the Oil debate in October last year and on PAC report on Basajjabalaba's Shs 169 billion compensation, I don't think removing Museveni would unite them. Most ruling party MPs making noise want to catch the attention of the President as they are expectant of ministerial appointments or other inducements from the executive. So why waste time on this?
I have issues with journalists who simply ritually recycle press conference statements without making effort to analyse them before reporting. Surely we can do better than merely reporting attention-seeking politicians. For the record, I am not saying we should not report such statement but probe them and be of better service to our audience.
By Mubatsi Asinja Habati