Last Post Was Made on May 19, 2014
LIST] What some Ugandans say: economic versus political rights
Yes, six times.
However as we develop this thesis and advocate for its experimentation, we need to pay attention to its limitations and possible abuses when a low income nation slides into the arms of Kleptocratic individuals.
Cases of abuses of unconstrained political power are not an exception in Africa. We have to articulate the assumptions, optimal conditions, limitations, and legacy it would create.
From: email@example.com [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sunday, May 18, 2014 11:50 PM
Subject: Re: [AFEA—LIST] What some Ugandans say: economic versus political rights
The Moyo hypothesis is taking shape. I’m happy we have finally come to a converging point of view. Indeed, with poverty, the smoke screen of de jure power in principle is de facto power in practice. The people have been so thoroughly dissipated by hunger and lack of shelter that they are ready to accept and follow any leadership that promises the alleviation of their stringencies with ‘white elephants’. Liberal democracy cannot pragmatically strive without a growing middle class. Hence, economic rights should come first in the scale of preference. I am not the person making the noise this time. In essence, the ‘white noise’ is now ‘added news’. In the piece you just sent, the following (inter alia) are all of the same view point: Dr. Kizza Besigne (former FDC president and three times presidential candidate); Dr. Julius Kiiza & Prof. Mulindwa Rutanga (political economy lecturers at Makerere University) Prof. Mahmood Mamdani; Prof. Kabumba; ….etc.),
Please join me in examining their consistencies.
Is democracy more endogenous to economic prosperity? Oh Yes.
“The history of democracy shows that economic development is a necessary precondition for democracy to gain traction. So, if the citizens are poor and not empowered, as the situation is, they cannot freely exercise their democratic rights,” (Dr. Julius Kiiza).
Does economic foundation provide the basis for political character in a state? Oh Yes.
“The economic foundation of any society provides the roots for the political character of the state. Ideally, the definition of the political character of the state is a mandate given to the people through their choice of leaders and how such leaders exercise their power” (Prof. Mahmood Mamdani)
Are economic rights short-term preferences and political rights long-run preferences? Oh Yes.
I also love the long-run emphasis of political rights in this statement. “In a society like ours where voters are ‘hungry’, they can sell their sovereignty for food since it is their immediate need—not the long- term goals that are always reflected in the [political parties’ election] manifestos,” says Kabumba.
Is democracy more endogenous to productive structures (evidence from the East Asian Miracle)?. Oh Yes.
“Representative democracy came from a society that had gone through industrialization” (Prof. Mulindwa Rutanga).
Do African cultures matter (evidence from Somaliland bicameral (sic0 democracy)? Oh Yes
“Rutanga argues that popular democracy is the most plausible way through which African countries could have established a democracy in tandem with its cultural context”
……The list is long.
Africa in poverty is not ripe for short-term liberal democracy. Whether advocates of the Washington Consensus like it or not, it is an economic fact that the Chinese model is a reference for short-run or initial development. For unknown reasons, some Africans are more willing to protect the Washington consensus than Dr. Jim Yong Kim himself (president of the World Bank) who has strongly advocated the need for multipolar solutions. The era when the Washington consensus was considered ‘the holy economic gospel’ has past.
The Economic Consequences of China-Africa relations: debunking myths in the debate.
On Monday, May 19, 2014 5:55 AM, Voxi Heinrich Amavilah <email@example.com> wrote:
Lol, simplice will be happy to see this.
On May 18, 2014 8:39 PM, “Ssozi, John M.” <John_Ssozi@baylor.edu> wrote:
With dire poverty and rampant unemployment, the ordinary people’s priority is not democracy or human rights but, rather, salt or soap
When Maj Gen (rtd) Kahinda Otafiire was quoted as slamming “the fast-growing culture of vote buying” earlier this month, the NRM historical was not saying anything new. In fact, he became the latest ruling party loyalist to openly say Uganda’s politics had become heavily monetised.
“I feel sad when I see people asking for money,” said the Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, while closing a workshop in Kampala.
“I want to go and ask for votes and my people address the election question by issues,” he said.
Days earlier, another NRM historical, Gen (rtd) Salim Saleh, a presidential adviser on military affairs, had told local leaders in Luweero sub-county that he doesn’t condone the notion of renting political support.
President Museveni’s younger brother argued that the NRM did not go to the bush [in 1981] to fight vote rigging only to capture power and then buy votes to retain it. Gen Saleh was mobilising support for the NRM candidate in the Luweero district Woman MP by-election, whose campaign is currently ongoing ahead of polling on May 22.
Coming at a time when the NRM has given Shs four million per sub-county for each NRM MP to popularise the so-called ‘sole candidacy’ project, the comments by the senior NRM leaders offer an opportunity to examine Uganda’s democratisation process.
Over the last 20 years, Uganda has promulgated a constitution, conducted four presidential and parliamentary elections, and revived a multi-party political arrangement. However, the disputes that have surrounded each election, the regular interference of the military in political matters, and allegations of rigging, continue to trouble Uganda’s fledgling democracy.
Some legal and political analysts believe this is the case because the masses are not sufficiently emancipated to influence the democratic process. Dr. Kabumba Busingye, a lecturer of constitutional law at Makerere University, says the sovereignty that the 1995 Constitution purports to provide to ordinary Ugandans is illusory.
“Due to the poverty levels in our society, people have been induced by those who have money to provide consent on how they are to be governed. And where such power is obtained, it is not exercised in accordance with the people’s aspirations,” argues Kabumba.
Among the glaring incidents where politicians have used money to undermine the institutions of democracy is bribery of voters and payment of inducements to MPs to pass laws.
“Most electoral petitions show how people have been given money in exchange for a vote,” adds Kabumba.
He also pointed at the ongoing campaign by NRM MPs to popularise a resolution they passed during their retreat at Kyankwanzi in February. The resolution seeks to install President Museveni as NRM’s sole candidate in the 2016 elections.
In 2005, MPs of the Seventh Parliament received Shs five million each, a sum widely understood as inducement to support the lifting of presidential term limits, which allowed Museveni to extend his rule until now.
NRM is further accused of raiding the treasury ahead of the 2011 presidential elections to get the money it splashed around the country to secure Museveni’s victory. Later on, MPs received Shs 20 million each, ostensibly to monitor government programmes in their areas.
Poverty vs. Democracy
That lopsided political terrain is what convinced former FDC president Kizza Besigye, a three-time presidential candidate, that he could not possibly win an election organised and controlled by President Museveni.
Senior opposition figures, including Besigye, and civil activists, are currently combing the countryside to amass support for electoral reform in a bid to cultivate an even political and financial playing field.
With unemployment quoted by Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) to be in the region of 60 %, while other agencies put it even higher, Dr. Julius Kiiza, a political economy lecturer at Makerere University, says social organisation based on democratic institutions is unlikely to produce effective results.
“The history of democracy shows that economic development is a necessary precondition for democracy to gain traction. So, if the citizens are poor and not empowered, as the situation is, they cannot freely exercise their democratic rights,” he says.
In his book, Politics and Class Formation in Uganda, Prof. Mahmood Mamdani says the economic foundation of any society provides the roots for the political character of the state. Ideally, the definition of the political character of the state is a mandate given to the people through their choice of leaders and how such leaders exercise their power.
However, in a situation like Uganda’s, where poverty levels are high, analysts say the people’s collective conscience is often rented out in exchange for money and other incentives.
“In a society like ours where voters are ‘hungry’, they can sell their sovereignty for food since it is their immediate need—not the long-term goals that are always reflected in the [political parties’ election] manifestos,” says Kabumba.
Elitists Mentality vs. Popular Demands
While there is a general consensus amongst analysts that poverty impedes democracy, Prof. Mulindwa Rutanga of the Political Science and Administration department at Makerere University, calls for context.
Rutanga argues that representative democracy came from a society that had gone through industrialisation.
“So, if you impose representative democracy in a society which is majorly peasantry, like ours, what is likely to happen is people are likely to vote based on their immediate benefits such as food as opposed to things like human rights and the size of the economy,” he argues.
What is needed in such a setting, according to Rutanga, is popular democracy, where people can define what they need and as such choose leaders who can make them achieve i Rutanga argues that popular democracy is the most plausible way through which African countries could have established a democracy in tandem with its cultural context. That opportunity, he adds, was, however, lost with the arrival of imperialism.
In Uganda, attempts to establish a semblance of popular democracy happened in the Resistance Council system. But it could not work after the coming into force of the 1995 constitution.
“The Constitution says, ‘one man one vote’ and everything is about human rights. So, if it is like that, what is to happen? My vote has the same value like that of a peasant even when the level of judgment is not the same,” says Rutanga.
President Museveni says in his book, Sowing the Mustard Seed, that when European colonialists came to Africa, they denied the continent “the natural process of growth and advancement, which as such produced the dominant exploitative relations in production, distribution and exchange where imperialist/capitalist ones have always worked to the detriment of the African people.”
Museveni, who published his book a year after the 1995 constitution had been promulgated, acknowledged the fact that in such a situation, democracy was not the immediate demand for society but social reconstruction to alleviate poverty.
Kiiza of Makerere University argues that Museveni took advantage of the circumstances at the time to develop a system that would perpetuate his continued stay in power rather than put in place the building blocks for democracy.
“If reconstruction was the agenda, we would be far by now. Countries like Taiwan and South Korea transformed in only 20–30 years, but after 28 years in power, you realise that we are heading nowhere,” says Kiiza.
“When he goes to the rural poor and gives sacks of money like he did in Busoga, they embrace him but this is all patronage.”
Kiiza believes Museveni’s government systematically destroyed some of the institutions that would have fostered democracy. For instance, he points out, Museveni found in 1986 a farmers’ cooperative movement with a bank of its own.
Both the bank and the cooperatives are essentially no more. The government’s official explanation was that the bank was heavily indebted but Kiiza believes it was intended to disempower farmers and make them beholden to the regime.
In his book, Citizen and Subject, Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism, Prof. Mahmood Mamdani writes that without a reform of the local state… democratisation will remain not only superficial but also exploitative.
“Urban politicians harness rural constituencies through patron-client relations. Where despotism is presumed, clientelism is the only non-coercive way of linking the rural and the urban,” notes Mamdani.
As the opposition pushes for electoral reforms as a means to improve the democratisation process, some analysts believe a push for socio-economic transformation is even more important.
“What is most important is a responsive state that will provide the infrastructure, education for the masses and health care,” says Rutanga.
“The opposition can demand for this because it will in turn produce a critical mass that will understand their cause.” Kabumba agrees.
“We cannot abandon any of the two… and countries like Ghana are doing it. If we say that we do one and avoid the other, the results will not be any better and it will backfire.”
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