“We have come to a very risky time in Uganda where every one in our society is thinking of politics, then who will wash the cars”
Aspiring youth Members of Parliament are angry with incumbent MPs for allegedly masterminding a plot to kick young people from participating in elections through the recent amendments in which the legislators raised nomination fees.
Under their umbrella body, the Inter-party Youth Platform (IYOP) the young politicians are particularly incensed with incumbent MPs such as Aruu County MP Odonga Otto who entered the institution of parliament on the Youth Ticket but have now turned their back on their former constituents.
“We were surprised that Odonga Otto who came to Parliament as a poor young graduate is one of those who suggested an even bigger fee ostensibly to keep away ‘jockers’ from parliament, ” said Moses Egunyu, the IYOP’s program director recently.
“Imagine if such fees were imposed at the time those MPs first contested for parliamentary seats, none of them would be where they are now. But their agenda is now very clear to us. It is to keep away young people and other financially under-privileged persons with a potential to vie for their positions simply because they are poor!” he added.
Aspiring youth MP for Nebbi District Ronald Adubango told The Sunrise that what incumbent MPs are doing is to deny them a chance to challenge President Museveni and other leaders who are being accused of overstaying in power.
“We consider all MPs who backed the nomination fees hike as hypocrites who are on one side condemning president Museveni and other leaders for their longevity in power but are doing a diametrically opposite thing in real practice,” Adubango said.
Lusiba Phillip who dropped out of the nomination race due to lack of nomination fees agrees with Egunyu but warns MPs about such a move saying it might prove a boomerang in the future.
“Let them not forget that we (the youth) are 70% of Uganda’s population and this therefore gives us the biggest constituency which we can mobilize against any candidate who is branding himself as an enemy of the youth’s interests. We have not yet decided to take this path but we shall be forced to take it when the right time comes,” Lusiba warned.
However, a section of the youth have expressed disappointment with their own political parties which they say have not made matters any easier for aspiring youth to enter parliament.
They argue that much as political parties such as DP, FDC and NRM which for example charged as nomination fees, Ushs300,000 300,000 and 2m respectively can be justified on grounds of internal party fund raising, they set a bad precedent which they say does not augur well with leadership development in Uganda’s multi party dispensation.
“It is even more annoying that after our own parties charge us equally hefty nomination fees during primary elections, they are not willing to help us when we are facing nomination fees and other financial challenges during national elections. Said” Shaban Kalema who is attached IYOP’s chairman subscribing to JEEMA.
IYOP is composed of youth leaders from all Uganda’s political parties including among others NRM, FDC, JEEMA and PDP, with the chairmanship rotating from one party to another annually.
Odonga Otto confirmed to The Sunrise that he not only supported the increase of the fees but also moved the motion with a view to keep away jokers from the race.
“I actually proposed 10m but I was only overpowered by parliament. This is because we have come to a very risky time in Uganda where every one in our society is thinking of politicking, then who will wash the cars and other types of jobs in our society?,” Otto said advising aspiring youth MPs to appeal to their political parties for assistance.
He adds that times have changed so much from the days he entered parliament that such a changes (of nomination fees) are normal “and expected in a developing society like Uganda.”
“If you cannot help yourself, how can you help yourself, how and why do you set yourself the task others?”