Le concept de la democratie: forme ou contenu? l'approche comparee du systeme politique ougandais et Francais
Kakuba, Christian J.
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1. Background and Methodology The background to the dissertation is implied in the title: The concept democracy, form or content: - a comparative approach to the Ugandan and French political systems. As a background to this problem, it had always been a common tendency for scholars and politicians to link democracy to a multiparty system of government to the extent that even some of the political systems like the movement system that have forged ahead in the democratisation process have continued to be described as non democratic. The objectives of this study included among other things:- Deepening our understanding of the concept democracy, understanding the proper functioning of the movement system of government, understanding the proper functioning of the multi-party system of government, establishing if the movement system is on the right path towards democratisation, and finally establishing if the third world has to adopt the models of western nations in order to forge ahead in the line of democratisation. This research was premised on two questions as the hypotheses and these were:- That Uganda can follow her own path towards democratisation other than that followed by the France and that Uganda may have to borrow some elements from the French system of government in order to forge ahead or vice -versa. The research largely hinged on documents in view of the fact that concepts that are a bit complex like democracy cannot be studied through questionnaires. Like most researches in the domain of social sciences, this research was based on qualitative methods of data collection. A study was conducted into the French system and the Ugandan system and concepts like the independence of the judiciary, the role of parliament, the role of the press, the respect of human rights were looked at and these are the tenets of democracy. 2. Major Findings from the Study In chapter two, an elaborate and profound model of democracy was given and in this model, elections and the three arms of government were profoundly discussed. Elections were seen as a major aspect of democracy more so since they precede democratic governments, these same elections empower the electorate to make and unmake people's representatives. In addition it was explained that elections should be popular, competitive free and fair to the extent that, the verdict of the election should tally with the composition of parliament. If for example people are genuinely tired of the socialist government, they should change this through their great tool, the election and their discontent should also reflect the composition of parliament. Elections ought to be on universal suffrage implying that no restriction of any sort should interfere with them and the circumstances under which this can be derogated from were also elaborated. Parliament in a real democracy should be independent in matters relating to recruitment of its members and these should be recruited in free and fair elections. They should in addition treasure immunities that make them free in relation to the executive. As pertains to voting in parliament, this should not be interfered with by the executive and the voting should be secret. Parliamentarians should also be masters of their own program and debates and never should government interfere in this role. The judiciary has also been seen as an important organ that can check excesses of government power. An independent and autonomous judiciary guarantees enjoyment of civil rights and liberties to the people. In a nutshell in chapter two, democracy revolves around an election and the independence of three branches of government. The interactions between these should take place in a milieu of checks and balances. The proper functioning of institutions is not an end in itself; it is a means whose end is to guarantee civil rights and liberties to the people. Democracy is thus not only a system of government (the proper functioning of institutions) but also a way of life (the enjoyment of rights and liberties in all aspects of life). Having looked at the democratic model, the French political system was annualized. Since 1981 the French had elected their presidents three times that is in 198 1, 1988 and 1995 and had changed their parliaments several times as well that is in 1981, 1986, 1988, 1993, and 1997. It was equally found out that the changes are effected through free and fair elections that conform to constitutiona1 provisions. The French system is characterised by political parties and these are so rooted that they explain aspects of elections, representation, composition of parliament, change of government and others. Between 198 1 and 1997 the French government has oscillated between the right wing and the left wing and behind these oscillations was "the people" who had consistently put into practice their constitutional right of determining their leaders. The French parliament has always contained the opposition and the majority, what was however more interesting to note was that this composition is ephemeral, since the opposition of today would turn out to be the majority of tomorrow. According to research, the French are becoming more and more apolitical and this was vindicated by the increasing number of people abstaining from voting. Opinion polls conducted by SOFRES also revealed that more and more French are of the view that political parties are useless. These two phenomena pose great dangers to western democracies in general. A conclusion was arrived at that the French system of government is largely democratic and this is owed to its strong and preponderant institutions that have evolved since 1789. It was equally contended that the economic strength has had a positive impact on the stability of institutions. In the fourth chapter the movement system of government was discussed and it was ascertained that through the R.C system, people can elect their leaders from the grassroots to the district level and even to parliament. Not only do they elect representatives, they may also recall them. In addition, disadvantaged groups like women and the youth are equally represented. This system of government was juxtaposed with the former one (of chiefs) and what was clear was that while the former chief had fused powers with no checks and balances, the new one had elected members with differentiated roles and that these had checks- and balances both amongst themselves and between them and the people. In addition, these R.Cs being people organs have had a problem with the historical organs like the police and the courts. The latter largely worked in favour and in the interests of the learned and the rich to detriment of the majority and vulnerable poor. The notion of elections is respected both within the R.C structures and outside and parliament having been constituted in 1987 was expanded in 1989 and subsequent elections were held in 1996. In that line, parliament as an institution has undergone a fundamental transformation both in terms of its composition, method of recruitment and autonomy vis-a-vis government. In several instances, parliament has had to question the executive and a case whereby a minister was threatened with censure and resigned was also looked at. The R.C system has brought judicial powers nearer to the people since the illiterate and poor who lost many cases due to bribery in the courts and police units can now sit down and arbitrate amongst themselves. The judiciary is not yet fully independent although it is manifesting increasing tendencies of independence. Cases such as Ssempebwa Vs the Attorney General, Tinyefuza Vs the Attorney General, Ssezi Cheye Vs State House and several others were looked at. However in cases like the Rwabyomere case the supremacy of the executive in relation to the judiciary was still prevalent. In a nutshell the judiciary is greatly gaining independence. Having looked at the R.C system and the three arms of government, human rights were also looked at and what was clear is that there has been violation of the same especially in the war affected areas of the north thereby denying democracy to the people. In the concluding remarks, the future of stability in Uganda and the future of what has been achieved lies in finding a solution to the northern crisis since Uganda is a poor nation and thus cannot provide much to its peoples, and since it is under the influence of the world super powers, the northern war may be a breeding ground for the collapse of the system. Our state is vulnerable in the face of those factors. The democratization process in Uganda is nevertheless in high gear. 3. Conclusions and Recommendations In the fifth and the last chapter general conclusions and recommendations were made in line with the objectives and hypotheses of this study. Some of them have been looked at already but in addition the following may be highlighted:- That democracy is an ideal and that no nation can thus claim to be democratic. In addition, those that are democratic are nearer to democracy than to dictatorship. Democracy is an ephemeral concept that ought to be seen in a particular context. The French system was largely democratic since among other things, leaders and representatives are elected consistently and in the rightful conditions. Another interesting aspect was that the functioning of institutions is in line with the constitution of the 5h republic. The continuing tendency of the French to be apolitical and not to vote as well as continued criticisms of parties by the French seem to be a threat to the future of western democracies. As for the Ugandan system, political institutions are in a fundamental transformation in the movement and the movement is democratic if democracy implies the rule of the people and if the people are the majority. This system accommodates all people including the poor, the illiterate, the hungry and the vulnerable. However, in future like ten years from now, when Uganda has ended the northern crisis, parties may be introduced for as Mahmood Mamdani remarked, monopoly (of the movement) breeds arrogance and this leads to inefficiency, corruption, abuse of office, tribalism and others. In looking at this we must however look at our status in the new world order and our economic strength. That is why we proposed that parties be introduced 10 years from now. In the concluding remarks, it was pointed out that the principles of democracy are universal but the ways of bringing these into practice vary from country to country. Each country does this in a particular socioeconomic and political milieu and therefore the content of democracy is the same but the forms may be diverse.