JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 205
JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 16757
Constitution should not be tampered with by politicians Constitution should not be tampered with by politicians Constitution should not be tampered with by politicians

Constitution should not be tampered with by politicians

The political mayhem surrounding the presidential age-limit debate forced many people to opt out of the debate and leave the fate of the country in the hands of Members of Parliament.

However, after listening to the wisdom of some senior citizens who spoke at a workshop organised by the Elders Forum last Friday, one was forced to reflect on the current political situation in the country in which constitutional matters are being confused with political issues. A national constitution should be above politics and that is why the Constitution itself makes a distinction between the political work of Parliament and its special powers to amend the Constitution.
Article 79 of the Constitution sets out the political functions of Parliament to include:
• The power to make laws on any matter for the peace, order, development and good governance of Uganda.
• The power to confer authority on any person or body to make provisions having the force of law.
• The duty to protect the constitution and promote the democratic governance of Uganda.
In furtherance of these functions, Parliament is given power under Article 94 to make rules to regulate its procedure and Article 94(4)(b) specifically gives a Member of Parliament the right to move a private member’s Bill subject to the following limitations
• The member moving the private member’s Bill must seek assistance of the department of government whose area of operation is affected by the Bill.
• The Attorney General’s office must be involved in drafting of the Bill.
Article 259 of Chapter Eighteen of the Constitution gives special powers to Parliament to amend the Constitution. These powers are separate from the political powers, which are bestowed on Parliament.
Accordingly, the rules governing the procedure to enact laws cannot be used for purposes of amending the Constitution. Indeed Article 259 provides that ‘Parliament may amend any provision of the Constitution according to procedure laid down in this chapter’, meaning Chapter Eighteen and not Chapter Five.

The only way the Constitution can be amended is by first and foremost enacting a law implementing the provision of Chapter Eighteen and making rules under that law providing for procedure for such amendment. The Bill before Parliament was introduced by a private member according to rules, which govern the political work of Parliament, which makes it unconstitutional.
Secondly, even if the current rules of parliamentary procedure were considered to be applicable, the preparation of the Bill would still render it unconstitutional because it was not done according to the requirements of the Constitution.

Article 94(c) and (d) require that the member moving the Bill should have sought the assistance of the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs as the department of government most affected by the Bill as well as the professional assistance of the office of the Attorney General should have been sought in its drafting.

These provisions are important and are in line with the idea that the Constitution should not be capriciously and indiscriminately tampered with by politicians.
Lastly a bill to amend the constitution can only be assented to by the President if it is accompanied by a certificate of the Speaker that the provisions of chapter eighteen have been complied with in relation to it.

This chapter does not confer on a private member the right to move a bill to amend the constitution. As such Hon.Raphel Magyezi’s bill is irregularly and unconstitutionally before august house.
The political and constitutional confusion caused by Hon. Magyezi’s bill can only be sorted out through sober dialogue and the willingness to accept wise counsel.


Credit: Peter Mulira

Daily Monitor Uganda

About Author

Related items

  • Telecoms remit Shs4.4b social media tax for July

    Telecoms remitted a combined sum of Shs4.4b collected from social media tax in the month of July, failing to hit the target of Shs8.3b, according to figures obtained from different government sources.
    According to available data, Shs24b, which was collected from mobile money tax in July was in the same measure remitted to Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) on August 15.
    Daily Monitor could not independently verify the figures but they were corroborated by different officials in the Finance Ministry and URA, who asked to remain anonymous because they are not authorised to speak for the two institutions.
    Last month, Mr David Bahati, the Finance state minister, told journalists that government would collect Shs100b from the social media tax also known as over the top tax.
    However, data indicates that only Shs4.4b was collected against an average target of Shs8.3b.
    Government intends to collect about Shs100b in this financial year from social media tax, which means that URA has a target of at least Shs8.3b every month.
    Mr Hudson Kalema, the URA acting commissioner for public and corporate affairs, could not confirm the figure, saying: “I have to work through a process to get you accurate information ... that would need a minimum of 48 hours,” he said.
    In a letter written to Finance minister in March, President Museveni had projected that government would at least collect Shs400b alone from social media users, reasoning that is would be another way to widen the tax base.
    However, this figure was later revised to Shs100b.
    The social media tax has faced a lot of resistance with many users opting to maneuver around the tax by using virtual private networks (VPN) to access blocked social media sites.
    In an interview recently, Mr Abdusalam Waiswa, the Uganda Communications Commission director for legal affairs, told Daily Monitor they were working on blocking VPN access but were challenged by recurring creations of multiple access points from unknown destination.
    “It has been a challenge because of the creation of multiple VPN [access points] and the difference in jurisdiction,” he said.
    The two collections from social media and mobile money tax were remitted on August 15, as stipulated by the tax law.
    The social media tax was one of the new taxes that were introduced in the 2018/19 financial year after the amendment of the Excise Duty law.
    The law also introduced a 1 per cent charge on all mobile money transactions, which raised a lot of debate.
    The charge has since been recalled and is currently undergoing a review in Parliament.
    President Museveni has since said that there was an error as Cabinet had only agreed on 0.5 per cent and not 1 per cent.
    Mr Val Oketcho, the MTN corporate communications manager and Ms Sumin Namaganda, the Airtel public relations manager, declined to comment on the figures, citing client confidentiality.


    Credit: Daily Monitor

  • Ministers uUPDF, police brutality was shameful and unjustifiednder fire over absenteeism

    The violence that started during the acrimonious Arua Municipality by-elections and spilled into this week has brought out a lot of things on the discipline and professionalism of the security forces in handling public protests by unarmed civilians.

    The brutal behaviour of the armed forces in the Monday civilian protests and during the arrest of Opposition politicians in Arua last week, betrays the standard of the armed forces envisaged under Chapter 12 of the Constitution, which provides for a disciplined and professional army and police. They exhibited none and exuded the contrary.

    Previously, the President and government blamed chaos on Opposition protesters and justified the use of excessive force as a means to subdue them and stop them from breaking into people’s shops or business premises to loot or destroy their property.

    However, on Monday, it was the security forces, who were seen on video and in still images, brutalising innocent people and hounding traders out of their shops to beat them.
    The shocking images show soldiers beating people with sticks as if they were serpents. This was after smoking them out of their shops with tear gas. This cannot be a behaviour or character of an army claimed to be a people’s defence force.

    The security forces lobbed tear gas into shopping arcades and beat suffocating traders and clients who ran out for fresh air.

    One wonders what the motive was when it was clear the traders in the arcades were not part of the protesters. Even suspects, who did not resist arrest, were battered to pulp. In one incident, a woman fled and left her baby behind. Calls for her to return and pick the baby were futile as she continued running. Journalists covering the riots were not spared either.

    In Mityana, the armed forces shot at a van of soccer fans who were not part of the protesters, killed people and injured others.

    This kind of brutality must be condemned in the strongest terms. The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) issued a statement promising to arrest the soldiers who beat up journalists.

    The decision is welcome, but journalist are just a section of the brutalised larger community. All soldiers who brutalised innocent people - whether journalists or others - must be punished.
    We hope the CDF will walk the talk and arrest the culprits. The public is watching.


    Credit: Daily Monitor

  • Children still face sexual violence

    Back in 2012, Daily Monitor published a traumatising story of Joan (not real name) narrating how her own father had repeatedly raped her on a number of occasions.
    As a result, the young girl sustained injuries to her private parts which oozed blood and pus.
    To date, the girl continues to suffer psychological distress from the ordeal.
    Joan is among many girls whose stories have been highlighted in the different media platforms as a way of raising awareness about the vice.
    Sexual violence encompasses sexual abuse and exploitation of children including forced sex, erotic touches such as grabbing or fondling of the child. Sexual violence also includes harassment, threats and tricks directed towards a child in exchange for sex.

    The statistics
    Uganda Violence Against Children survey report findings released on August 2018 show that one in three young women have experienced sexual abuse during their childhood.
    Also, one in four young adults who experienced sexual abuse in their childhood had their first abuse experience at 13 or at a much younger age.
    Further, the report highlights that most frequent perpetrators of sexual violence against girls during their childhoods were neighbours and strangers. These girls, aged 13 to 17 years, most frequently experienced sexual violence on the road, their own respective homes and school.
    Meanwhile, boys aged 13 to 24 years reported friends, classmates, and neighbours as the most frequent perpetrators of sexual violence. They were abused in the evening, and most commonly at school, in their homes, and on the road.

    Consequences of sexual violence
    Children who suffer sexual abuse get affected in different ways.
    They may get mental disorder as a result of recurrent sexual episodes playing in their minds, says Ian Musoke, a child welfare social worker.
    “For example, if a girl was raped, there is a likelihood that she will keep thinking of what happened to her, and, in the long run, this may cause her mental agony,” Musoke says.
    Rape also comes with the high risk of exposure to HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases including gonorrhea and syphilis. Some girls also get pregnant in the process.
    “Sadly, because some of these girls conceive at a time they are still very young, they end up losing their life as well as that of the baby,” Musoke says.
    Then, some of these victims may either resort to run away from home or committing suicide out of shame.
    Musoke says sometimes these victims can end up detesting men or relationships.
    A case in point, Namayanja, now aged 25 years, says she starting hating men after being raped by her uncle at the age of 10 years.
    “I don’t like the idea of any man touching me as it always reminds me of my painful past,” Namayanja says.
    Although a number of suitors continue to propose marriage, Namayanja continuously says she is not yet ready to settle down. Uganda is a signatory to a number of international instruments including the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), article 19, which requires that children are protected from all forms of violence (including sexual abuse).
    However, a Ministry of education and sports report issued in 2014 titled Response, Tracking, Referral, and Response (RTRR), guidelines on violence against children in schools, noted there were existing challenges towards reporting cases of abuse.

    Credit: Daily Monitor

Login to post comments