According to the deal, the two parties agreed to consolidate and strengthen existing constructive and enduring working relationship in the areas of political dialogue, justice, rule of law and constitutionalism on the basis of mutual respect, reciprocity, common interest and respect for the sovereignty and independence of the parties.
Fast forward, on Thursday, just one day after signing of the agreement, Museveni appointed Mao as the new Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, a position that has been vacant for over a year since the president announced his new cabinet last year.
It was agreed in the deal that Norbert Mao, the DP president be appointed the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs whereas another DP leader is set to be appointed to a junior ministerial position.
“For the avoidance of doubt, it is hereby expressly agreed that these ministers shall hold their portfolios for the full term of the 11th Parliament or for the duration of this agreement, whichever comes first,” the agreement reads in part.
According to the deal, as Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Mao will be the lead minister for coordinating the national dialogue and the whole of government response on constitutional reforms with the mandate to coordinate budget proposals in the justice law and order sector.
The deal stipulates that DP will also propose four names from the opposition party for appointment in government departments, statutory bodies and government agencies.
The ministerial and other public sector appointments offered to DP will have to reflect where the opposition party expertise provides a valuable contribution to the ruling NRM government.
“In addition, the National Resistance Movement will support the nomination of a Democratic Party Member of Parliament to be the chair of a Standing Committee, as well as a Democratic Party Member of Parliament in the role of Deputy Chair of an additional Committee.”
As part of the cabinet rules, the new deal bounds Mao and any other Democratic Party members appointed to cabinet to ensure collective responsibility.
“Democratic Party ministers agree to be bound by the cabinet rules in the exercise of ministerial responsibilities, and in particular, agree to be bound by the provisions on conduct, public duty, and personal interests of ministers,” the agreement says.
“Ministers from the Democratic Party agree to be bound by collective responsibility in relation to their ministerial portfolios. When speaking within portfolio responsibilities, they will speak for the government representing the government’s position in relation to those responsibilities.”
According to this rule, Mao will be required to go by what cabinet decides and will no longer be free to communicate his own positions that are divergent from what cabinet has decided.
This seems to be a tall order for Mao, a man who enjoys speaks what he feels at his heart .
Other cabinet rules
As part of the deal, Mao will now be bound to support and implement any other cabinet positions despite their opposing views to them.
However, there has been an exception made to the DP ministers in this deal on issues that may go against the opposition party policy.
“However, Ministers from the Democratic Party will not be restricted from noting where that policy may deviate from the Democratic Party policy on an issue. If this is required, it may be noted in the Cabinet minute that on a key issue, the Democratic Party position differs from the Cabinet decision,” the agreement said in part.
The agreement also allows DP ministers to speak about matters outside their portfolio responsibilities on behalf of DP or as mere MPs and not necessarily as ministers.
DP ministers were also given a provision in the deal to always disagree with any of the provisions of the cabinet rules .
As one of the rules for cabinet, the DP ministers will be bound by confidentiality.
“Where Cabinet papers or other briefings are provided to the Democratic Party, or where the Democratic Party is involved in consultation on legislation, policy or budgetary matters, all such material and discussions shall be confidential unless otherwise agreed.”
“In the event that Government or Cabinet papers are provided to the Democratic Party for the purposes of political consultation they shall be provided to a designated person within the Democratic Party, who will take responsibility for ensuring they are treated with the appropriate degree of confidentiality. “
The agreement emphasizes that once confidential information is in the public domain, both parties will be allowed to make comment on the information, subject to any constraints required by collective responsibility .
Both parties agreed that going forward, there will be no surprises approach in parliament and its committees as each must always be made aware of any happenings prior.
“The leader of government business will keep the Democratic Party informed about the house programme in advance of each sitting session. The parties agree to a ‘no surprises’ approach to new private members’ bills. However, neither party is under any obligation to support the other party’s private members’ bills.”
It remains to be seen whether the provisions of the agreement signed between NRM and Democratic Party will be followed to the dot by both parties