Gov’t Blocks Three Constitutional Amendment Bills by Private Members

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The Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs has asked Parliament to reject three proposed legislation’s seeking to amend the Constitution.

The three private member’s Bills include one tabled by Jinja Municipality East MP Paul Mwiru, another by Kibanda South MP Jack Odur Lutanywa and the third by Igara East MP Micheal Mawanda.

In his Bill, Mwiru sought an amendment of Chapter Four of the Constitution which provides for the protection and promotion of fundamental and other human rights and freedoms to provide an instrument for addressing regional imbalances in recruitment, appointment and promotion of persons in public offices.

MP Jack Odur Lutanywa had proposed an amendment of the Third Schedule of the Constitution to include the Maragoli community as one of Uganda’s indigenous communities while Micheal Mawanda suggested several amendments to Article 161 of the Constitution by changing the composition of the Central Bank board and others.

But Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu says that the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee needs to give the government an opportunity to review the Constitution comprehensively through the Constitutional Review Commission. He says that the consideration of the Bills will result in piecemeal amendments to the Constitution.

“Since 2005, the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs has received several proposals for amendment of the Constitution from different stakeholders. The proposals have been compiled and are awaiting further processing through a Constitutional Review Commission which is being established by the government,” Kamuntu said.

He observed that during the process of enacting the Constitution (Amendment) Act of 2015, the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended that the government should set up a Constitutional Review Commission, a recommendation which was adopted.

“It is therefore contrary to the recommendation adopted by Parliament to select a few proposals and amend the Constitution in piecemeal when Parliament recommended a methodology that would ensure comprehensive Amendment of the Constitution,” Kamuntu added.

He said that his Ministry was in advanced stages of establishing a Constitutional Review Commission and that it only awaits for the Certificate of Financial Implications from the Ministry of Finance. According to the Budget Framework Paper for the financial year 2021/2022, the government would need 13 billion Shillings for the Commission. However, the funds are not provided for.

Meanwhile, the Minister also argues that the three Bills have financial implications imposing a charge on the Consolidated Fund and therefore cannot be introduced as private members Bills. Article 93 of the Constitution prohibits a private member from introducing Bills that have financial implications

But the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee Chairperson wondered why the Minister wanted the Bills rejected yet the government had for the past years failed to establish a Constitutional Review Commission.

Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu also tasked the Minister to provide a timeframe when the Constitutional Review Commission would be in place. But Prof. Kamuntu could not provide a specific time.

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