Published by ACFIM on

Should politicians who are seasoned community mobilisers be elected to parliament to perform legislative roles?

The Ugandan electorate is divided about the required quality of leaders representing them in Parliament. This was according to the opinion poll survey that ACFIM conducted asking netizens on twitter to respond to the poll question; “Should politicians who are seasoned community mobilisers be elected in parliament to perform legislative roles?”.

Out of 561 netizens on twitter who participated in the survey, 57.4% were in agreement that community mobilizers be elected to parliament because of their understanding and ability to respond to citizens needs, while 42.6% were in disagreement noting that political leaders would divert from their statutory roles and get preoccupied with cheap politics often aimed at gaining political capital at the expense of lobbying for sustainable social services from the government. 

By community mobilizers, we refer to politicians who have turned themselves into mini-governments and are now seasoned providers of social services and solvers of personal problems faced by individual voters. They have understood serving as an MP to mean making donations and contributions to communities in form of donating ambulances, building hospitals, paying for school fees, making contributions on burials among others which are out of their mandate as members of parliament. 

Clearly, by allowing politicians to continue as community mobilizers is an indictment on government for having failed to be the primary giver of basic public services and goods. Politicians now play the role of government and in the process capitalise on this vacuum to increase their political visibility and capital.

SecretsKnown is amused by the electorate’s mixed reactions while justifying their decision. The electorate posed questions around the functionality of Parliament in terms of delivering their mandate independently. 

It is imperative to note that majority of politicians who engage themselves into community mobilization don’t have stable sources of financing the projects they initiate in the communities, but rather depend on loans and their salaries. This kind of political culture has left most of the community mobilising politicians predisposed to corporations and individuals who finance their projects so long as the politicians front their self-interests on the floor of parliament.

The more Ugandans elect community mobilizers into parliament, the more parliament as an institution will be turned into a house of lucrative deals and this automatically increases the premium of joining parliament. Partly, Uganda’s commercial electoral politics especially witnessed at parliamentary level has much to do with the changing role of a parliamentarian into a community mobiliser and service delivery agent.

It’s high time the electorate focused on holding political leaders accountable on their cardinal roles and mandate as opposed to community service as currently understood. 

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