Legislators stay presentation of Constitution (Amendment) Bill

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Members of Parliament have put government to task on what they have termed as piecemeal amendments to the Constitution.

The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2023 that had been proposed for first reading, did not make it to the floor on the day.

In the plenary sitting held on Tuesday, 14 November 2023, legislators challenged the process to rationalize agencies, a provision that was provided for in the Bill, which seeks to merge the Equal Opportunities Commission with the Uganda Human Rights Commission.

The Bill also seeks to rationalize the administrative framework for the performance of the law reform function in Uganda by establishing a department responsible for law reform in the Ministry for Justice.

Hon. Sarah Opendi (NRM, Tororo District Woman Representative) said she had previously brought amendments to the Constitution before the House, alongside a number of other MPs, which were referred to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, pending the creation of the Constitutional Review Commission.
“I am seeing the Executive coming up with constitutional amendments just for particular articles so that we can approve mergers of agencies. Can we first have that Constitutional Review Commission, otherwise short of that, we should all present our amendments to the House?” said Opendi.

While chairing the House, Speaker Anita Among acknowledged that she had received a number of amendments to the Constitution from MPs, and had written to the Attorney General on the matter, with no feedback given.
“Can the Attorney General tell us what the urgency is that requires these piecemeal amendments to the Constitution?” Among asked.

AUDIO Kafuuzi

Hon. Kafuuzi (C) said there will be need for referenda on the amendments

The Deputy Attorney General, Hon. Jackson Kafuuzi said the proposed amendments seek to deal with the merger of the proposed commissions, and added that other amendments by MPs would be dealt with in one comprehensive move.
“This is because some of them will require referenda,” Kafuuzi added.

AUDIO Mutembuli

His proposal was challenged by Hon. Yusuf Mutembuli (NRM, Bunyole East County) who tasked the Attorney General to follow up on the establishment of the Constitutional Review Commission to handle proposed amendments to the Constitution.
“If we are to have an amendment to the Constitution, the time is now. Now that government wants to amend some articles, if other members have interests in amending certain provisions, now is the time to introduce those amendments,” Mutembuli added.

Hon. Muruli Mukasa

The Minister for Public Service, Hon. Wilson Muruli Makasa, said he will engage respective Parliamentary committees on the agencies being rationalized so as to come to a concrete resolution and present an omnibus Bill with the proposals.

The Speaker also directed the Attorney General to present an update to the House on when the Constitutional Review Commission will be established.

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