- May 4, 2010
Candidate Yoweri Museveni is free to enjoy the privileges enjoyed by a sitting a president as he campaigns for a fourth elective term in office after MPs yesterday adopted a government motion to authorise the NRM leader to use state resources on the campaign trail.
Public Service State Minister Ssezi Mbaguta tabled the motion to effect provisions of Section 27 (3) of the Presidential Elections Act (2005), which requires the government to list facilities which a sitting head of state may continue to use in the event he or she is seeking re-election.
Facilitated State House
Ms Mbaguta told MPs that President Museveni should be entitled to a fully facilitated State House and state lodges, the usual transport facilities provided to the President, the usual personal staff attached to the President and their facilities and the usual information and communication facilities attached to the President.
Mr Museveni is currently on the campaign trail in northern Uganda with the aid of bodyguards, support staff, transport and communication facilities.
The Electoral Commission Act, however, bars any serving government official from using state resources while conducting campaigns.
Several opposition MPs raised a red flag over the statement and complained that allowing Mr Museveni to continue enjoying the perks of incumbency would offer the NRM leader an undue advantage over his opponents.
Stop wasting energy
Tororo MP Geoffrey Ekanya was first to protest, describing the statement as inadequate before asking Ms Mbaguta to state in detail what she meant by usual facilities.
In offering counsel, Speaker Edward Ssekandi wondered why we are wasting our energy on this issue, and told MPs that under Ugandan law, When we hold elections the president continues to hold office just as MPs do even if they are seeking re-election.
However, Mr Ssekandi admitted that allowing Mr Museveni to enjoy presidential privileges would be at the disadvantage of those who are vying for his office.
Definitely there will be no level playing field, said Mr Ssekandi, reading out provisions of Article 106 (2) which spell out presidential benefits. It means the President, so long as hes President carries all these benefits. The President will use the helicopter; he will use the presidential jet.
The speakers comments appeared to stoke more fury after he told MPs that there is nothing the House can do to change the status quo with the only solution to move a constitutional amendment.
Budadiri MP Nandala Mafabi said the privileges of letting an incumbent continue to use state resources as the candidate seeks re-election are not for the campaigns but for official duty. Unless you as saying the helicopter should be used by all the candidates, he said.
I appreciate this is not level, said Mr Ssekandi. The President has an advantage over other candidates. I know that. But the Constitution says you dont vary these facilities to his disadvantage. Therefore you dont lessen the comfort. I am speaking as a lawyer.
Dokolo MP Felix Okot Ogongo said he wondered why members of the opposition are fearing President Museveni, before concluding: It is clear President Museveni is going to win.
Source: Uganda Monitor Newspaper