The National Resistance Movement (NRM) has proposed that all independent candidates who dump their political parties for election as independents, present certificates of discharge before they can be nominated by the Electoral Commission.
Currently, people subscribing to different political parties are free to walk in and out of a political party which, according to NRM, compromises party operations during and after elections. “You must be able to hand over and then you are discharged.
Assuming, for example, Justine Kasule Lumumba goes with the register of the political party. She would have sabotaged activities of the party. We have to make sure you do not sabotage the activities of the party,” Lumumba, the NRM secretary-general, said.
Lumumba, who was in the company of the NRM secretariat leadership, made the remarks yesterday while presenting the party views on the five electoral reforms Bill presented to Parliament in July this year.
The Bills include the Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and the Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2019. Others are the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill 2019, the Political Parties and Organisations (Amendment) Bill 2019 and the Local Governments (Amendment) Bill 2019.
“Assuming people who have gone through primaries wake up and say, we are all walking out as a team; will that political party be able to hold primaries again within that small period of time?” Lumumba asked.
The Bill provides that one can contest as an independent on condition that the person is not a member, or they ceased to be a member of a political party or organization 12 months before nomination day.
Delays The MPs on the legal and parliamentary affairs committee, however, opposed the move on the issuance of a discharge certificate, saying it would affect people who wish to stand as independents due to delays by the parties to issue discharge certificates.
Medard Sseggona (Busiro East) said: “What happens where the party does not discharge someone and the Electoral Commission is waiting for the party to first discharge? Won’t this person be denied opportunity to participate in the elections?”
“Why make it hard for people to leave? They should be allowed to leave when things are difficult. The Constitution does not give you superior rights when competing for political power. Do you want to use the law to suffocate your competitors? People leave parties because of internal problems,”
Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri) said. Jacob Oboth, the committee chairperson, however, noted that: “The law is not interested in who is leaving which party to join another party. People are saying we have embraced multi-party politics, we should go by it; you either belong to a political party or not.”
The NRM also proposed that the Political Parties and Organisations Act be amended to have other security forces such as the army give backup to the Police in policing the elections where circumstances so warrant.
“The rationale for this is that there may be circumstances where the Police may require back- up from other sister security agencies. Under these circumstances, unless the law prescribes for the situations where back-ups may be required, there is a danger that any such intervention may be declared illegal,” Lumumba said.
The MPs, however, questioned the proposal, saying the relationship between the Police and the army was different in nature.
“Why do you want to involve the army whose mandate in not civil in character?” Sseggona asked.
The NRM also backed proposals on the declaration of source of funding by candidates intending to contest for any political office.