Huripec Annual State of Governance Conference

These conferences are organized as part of HURIPEC’s mandate to facilitate and promote multi-stakeholder dialogues on emerging public policy issues in the areas of governance, peace and human rights that arise in a particular year.  The conferences provide a platform for stakeholders to propose solutions to the problems hindering progress in the above mentioned issues/fields. They provide an extra forum for government to account to its citizens, development partners and well wishers for its various decisions and actions in the area of governance and human rights during the course of the year.  The conferences attract participants from government, political parties, civil society, academia, media and the diplomatic community in Uganda among other groups.  In the past, HURIPEC has hosted three (3) Annual State of Governance in Uganda Conferences. 

A).The First Uganda Annual State of Governance Conference (Nov. 2006)

This was held in November 2006.  It focused on five areas where serious issues arose during 2006. They included the Judiciary, Human Rights & Democratic Governance, Government-Civil Society Relations, Women & Politics, Economic Governance, and the Role of Political Parties in Holding Government Accountable.

The Conference Report is available for download.

B).The Second Uganda Annual State of Governance Conference (Dec. 2007)

This was held on Thursday December 13th, 2007 at Hotel Africana in Kampala.  This time, the conference focused on three areas namely;

1). Land Reforms and Politics in Uganda;
HURIPEC has repeatedly been concerned that until the Land Question in Buganda and Uganda as a whole is settled in a just, fair and acceptable manner to all stakeholders, it is likely to breed more conflicts in future and lead to havoc which may result in a reversal of development and loss of life and property.

The conference was convened at the time when tensions were reigning high following the amendment of the Land Act 1998, to provide ‘more protection to peasants against evictions’ by landlords.  A cross section of the public more especially from Buganda and particularly Mengo Government, the seat of the Buganda Kingdom felt that the proposed amendments were not fair and as such had been fronted in bad faith.  They felt that the amendments were a government ploy to weaken the kingdom by grabbing its land and as thus impoverish its subjects to ultimate demise.

As this went on, the situation was exacerbated by the unprecedented influx of pastoralists (commonly known as Abalaalo) causing mayhem in the districts of Mpigi, Kayunga, Buliisa, Apac and some parts of eastern Uganda, occupying contested land and allegedly trespassing  and grazing cattle on other peoples’ land.  Indeed, the Balaalo question had already led to bloody conflicts leading to loss of lives and cattle.  The session on Land Reforms and Politics was therefore intended to highlight the major issues and concerns in the proposed land reforms and finding a way forward to agreeing on common positions. 

2). Outcomes of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and their implications for Good Governance;
Despite the numerous resources spent in preparing for the CHOGM in Uganda, Ugandans were concerned about Commonwealth’s seriousness in holding its member countries accountable to its core values of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law.  The session on Outcomes of CHOGM was therefore intended to analyze the outcomes of the Meeting in the above context and come up with proposals on following up the decisions reached by the Heads of Government and suggest ways of making Commonwealth more relevant to the pressing needs of member countries such as Uganda.

3). The State of Human Rights Protection and Promotion in Uganda;
This session discussed the 2006 Uganda Human Rights Commission Annual Report on the state of human rights in the country.  The report had highlighted the increased torture cases perpetrated by the government security agencies including the Uganda Police Force and its associated agencies such as the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) and the Uganda Peoples’ Defense Forces (UPDF).  This particular session was to provide the stakeholders an opportunity to discuss the major findings of the Uganda Human Rights Commission Report on the state of human rights in 2006 and propose further ways of addressing the shortcomings. 

An electronic version of the report compiled during the conference is available for download here.

Papers presented are available for download namely:

  • Key Note Address on ‘The State of Human Rights Protection and Promotion in Uganda:  A Summary of Major Issues Arising from the State of Human Rights Report, 2006.’ By Mrs. Margaret Sekagya, Chairperson, Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHCR).

  • ‘Land Reforms and Politics in Uganda: Issues, Concerns and Way Forward,’ by Dr. Rose Mwebaze, Executive Director-Uganda Land Alliance & Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Makerere University.

  • ‘Understanding Buganda’s Position and Reaction to the Proposed Land Reforms’, by Mr. Apollo Makubuya, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs & Attorney General, Buganda Government.

  • ‘Outcomes of CHOGM: Issues and Implications for Good Governance in Uganda and other Commonwealth Countries,’ by Dr. Nansozi Muwanga, Department of Political Science, Makerere University. 

C).The Third Uganda Annual State of Governance Conference (Dec. 2008)

 The third conference was organized in conjunction with the Makerere University Convocation and took place on the 4th December 2008 at Senate Conference Hall, Makerere University under the theme; ‘The State of The Democratic Process In Uganda.’  The conference focused on three main governance issues that arose during the year 2008 namely;

1). The Electoral Commission, Law and Process
Over the years, since 1996 when Uganda held its first general elections under the NRM regime, the composition, impartiality and mandate of the Electoral Commission has come under persistent scrutiny by the public and different political actors.  Various questions have been raised over the partiality of a Commission appointed by the head of state to preside over elections in which he often takes part.  The way the commission conducts its work has been a major issue of concern in the past three general elections which have been marred with irregularities, rigging and other electoral malpractices.  Amidst this, there have been various calls that have been made for the amendment of the Electoral laws and for the establishment of an Independent Electoral Commission.  Thus, this theme was necessary to provide a forum for the different stakeholders to discuss the justification for reform in the electoral law, the appointment and composition of the Commission and make appropriate recommendations.

2). The Major developments in the multi-party political system
Several issues central to the strengthening of democracy in Uganda have emerged over time especially in relation to the multiparty dispensation within which the country is governed.  Among which include the following;

  • Cutting across all political parties in Uganda is the ongoing internal dissension and contention, particularly from those members of the parties who lay claim to offering a new (and non-historical) contribution to the parties.  Participants posed and discussed a number of issues including what the implications of these disagreements in the parties mean? To what extent has multipartism taken root in post-Movement Uganda, and what are the key issues of concern in the evolution of multi-party politics that the populace needs to look out for? 

  • The signing of the pact of co-operation by the opposition parties in Uganda is been an important stride under taken by the political parties in their quest to assume state power and also maps out an interesting development in relation to opposition politics. There was need to interrogate this development in the context of future politics of Uganda.  Participants set out to discuss the sustainability of this pact.  Is it a sign of weakness or of strength? Who is the principal beneficiary in such an arrangement?  Is the ruling NRM in danger of losing its grip on political monopoly in the run-up to 2011?  These and related questions formed the backdrop to the inquiry into the state of the opposition.

3). Freedom of Assembly and Demonstration
This freedom, provided for under Article 29 (1) (d) of the 1995 Constitution and its limitations has been a contentious issue since 2008.  Statutory instrument No.53 of 2007 has many serious implications for these freedoms. There have been calls for political parties and/or public to seek permission from the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to hold an assembly or demonstration. Even when permission is granted, the assembly or demonstration should be in a gazetted area.  In June 2008, SI 53/2008 was challenged in the Constitutional Court and consequently Section 32 of the Police Act-which purportedly gave powers to the IGP to stop a public gathering or demonstration-was nullified.  The conference sought to assess the implications of the statutory instrument, the constitutional court ruling and also discuss the appropriate guidelines that strike a balance between the right to assemble and the need for the regulation of public assemblies and demonstrations by police.

The Conference focused on three main objectives which namely;

  • To assess the practicability, reliability and applicability of opposition political parties’ cooperation deal and its significance come 2011.

  • To examine the need for reforms in the electoral law and make due recommendations.

  • To discuss and analyze the human rights implications of the statutory instrument that requires political parties to seek for permission before assembling or holding a demonstration. 

Papers presented are available for download namely:

  • ‘Viability and Significance of the Protocol of Co-operation Between CP, FDC, JEEMA and UPC in Uganda’s Politics’, by Dr. Frank Nabwiso (Former Member of Parliament).

  • ‘The State of the Democratic Process in Uganda: Strides towards Full Blown Multi-party Governance’, Key note Address by Hon. Edward Sekandi, Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda.

  • ‘Police Power, Politics and Governance in Uganda: A Critical Assessment’, by Professor J. Oloka-Onyango, Director-HURIPEC.

  • ‘The Opposition Political Parties Co-operation Pact, Its Viability and Significance in regard to Strengthening Multi-Party Governance and Electoral Democracy’ by Mr. Andrew Mwenda, The Independent Magazine.

  • ‘Uganda’s Electoral Legal Framework and Process: Is There Need for Reform?’ by Dr. Ben Twinomugisha, Dean of Faculty of Law, Makerere University.