The Uganda Parliamentary Scorecard Methodology
September 29, 2008
At independence in 1962, Uganda started off as a multiparty democracy until 1971, when 'Field Marshal' Idi Amin's military junta took over and ruled by decree for eight years. In 1980 multiparty democracy was restored only to be usurped by another military junta in 1985. In 1986, after a five year protracted guerrilla war, the NRM Government came to power instituting a no-party political system based on individual merit. Subsequent constitutional reforms between 1995 and 2005 culminated into the restoration of multi-party democracy. Uganda's Parliament is a uni-cameral, democratic, parliamentary system of government modeled on the Westminster system of legislature.
The Ugandan taxpayer forks out the equivalent of a new executive Gulf Stream jet per annum to maintain parliament and parliamentarians and so they are entitled to know and ask for value for money. A leader in the ruling NRM party was quoted as stating that he does not mind if Members of Parliament (MPs) sleep in Parliament as long as they wake up in time to vote for the party's positions.
Africa Leadership Institute (AFLI), a Ugandan independent, non-partisan, public policy think tank, takes exception to such statements and that is one of the reasons why it came up with its first groundbreaking and innovative Parliamentary Scorecard 2006-2007 in December 2007. The voting public welcomed the Scorecard with open arms while, on the other hand, the Members of Parliament (MPs) received it with mixed feelings accompanied by both negative criticism and positive acclaim. The Scorecard only measures on the constitutionally recognised roles of MPs and does not reward MPs for activities that are not a part of their legal mandate. For instance, while many voters might choose to vote for an MP based on how often the representative attends local funerals, pays school fees for children in the constituency, these activities are not part of an MP's legal obligations, so it would be unfair and misleading to grade legislators on these actions. The Scorecard Project is an exercise aimed at scoring the performance of Ugandan MPs in an endeavour to contribute to better governance. It is based on the idea that it is possible to work within the framework of representative government but still maintain a high degree of public participation in decision making. By empowering constituents to monitor their elected representatives, it provides intrinsic benefits by strengthening civic engagement with Parliament. In strengthening Parliament in fulfilling its functions, the scorecard is boosting democracy and good governance.
Keywords: uganda, parliament, scorecard, influence, attendance,participation
JEL Classification: H7, N4, Z00
Date posted: September 30, 2008