Govt must sensitize citizens regarding the Supreme Law – Denis Mugonza Waggumbulizi

The supreme law or constitution is simultaneously a legal, political, and social instrument. Legally, it enshrines human rights and creates a predictable legal landscape. #WhisperEyeNews

As a supreme or higher law, its provisions provide a framework under which all regulations, legislation, institutions, and procedures operate.

A constitution is made to secure justice, liberty, and equality for all citizens and promote fraternity to maintain the unity and integrity of the nation.

A government is a system of social control under which the right to make laws, and the right to enforce them, is vested in a particular group in society. It’s the mandate of the government to sensitize the citizens about the law such that both the government and citizens observe the constitution.

Recently, i was pleased to learn that Opposition Members of Parliament led by their leader, Rt. Hon. Mathias Mpuuga Nsamba were in the Bunyoro region consulting various stakeholders about the bill that would streamline the relationship between farmers and buyers of their products. This bill was introduced in Parliament by Kimaanya-Kabonera legislator, Hon. Dr. Abed Bwanika. This is exactly what should be done before a bill is enacted. The citizens must be consulted first and their proposals must be respected. A bill or an amendment must not be introduced to favor a few individuals in government, but it must be for the good of the country and so the citizens shall not challenge it because it caters to their justice, liberty, and equality and promotes fraternity to maintain unity and integrity of the nation.

You who are reading this piece of article will agree with me that many times the Constitution of Uganda has been amended without the citizens’ involvement, but only to favor an individual’s political interests. This is hell for a country like Uganda whose level of governance, democracy, and development is wanting. At 60 years of independence, Uganda should not be doing this. Our neighbors in Kenya should not be laughing at us because of our poor governance. The citizens in Uganda must decide how they should be governed other than an individual deciding for them.

It’s bad and primitive for African leaders to keep their nationals illiterate thinking that they would not be challenged and so they rule for decades. It’s the government’s role to teach the citizens the supreme law. Whenever the citizens are sensitized about the law, it does help them to observe the law and most importantly they learn their civic rights. It’s from these civic rights that the citizens would learn to fulfill their duties and responsibilities, so it would not trouble authorities in government to pull ropes with the citizens about certain laws. In this case, the citizens already know what to do and not do. By the way, in the countries where governments play their role to engage the citizens in decision-making, such countries are more developed and have no political unrest compared to countries where a clique of people decides for the rest of the country.

The Computer Misuse (Amendment) Act 2022 which was introduced by Kampala Central Legislator, Hon. Muhammad Nsereko and overwhelmingly supported by the Executive should not have been controversial and being challenged by the citizens in courts of law if at all the citizens were engaged first. However much the bill or act may be good, the citizens must be consulted first after all it is the citizens who either benefit from it or suffer. So their involvement in the proposals and decision-making matter a lot. The spirit in which the bill or an amendment is being introduced should also matter. If the citizens are not consulted or sensitized first, then the bill or an amendment may be perceived by the public as an individual’s benefit aimed at infringing on the rights of the citizens as is the case with the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Act 2022 and many other amendments that have been in the past made to favor an individual.

The people from the west very much know the importance of the law and their governments know it well that they must involve the public before the bill is enacted. In fact, the moment the Europeans come to Africa they first research the supreme law of a given country. This helps them not to break the laws of this country.  In other words, whatever they do must be in accordance with the laws of this country. They are quick to observe their rights and limits, whereas in Africa it’s the opposite. However, I greatly blame it on the governments of Africa that struggle very much to keep the citizens ignorant and rule for life. This is a disservice to the nation. No wonder when Africans go to Europe or elsewhere in the world, they are the first to abuse the laws of the given country and then rot in prison. Their character haunts them.

It’s absurd that a Member of Parliament introduces a bill or an amendment yet without their constituents’ involvement as if this legislator represents him or herself. A legislator is meant to collect the proposals of the people that she or he represents in Parliament, and so whatever this lawmaker does in Parliament must be in line with what the constituents say. It’s a pity and a sign of betrayal that most legislators in Uganda introduce bills or support motions in the house for personal interests forgetting those who sent them to Parliament. Such legislators must not be voted against again because they are selfish and not patriotic. The citizens must learn to vote for leaders who represent their ideas may be we shall have a better country.

It’s awkward for security agencies like the police and the army to deny people’s leaders from talking to the public in sought proposals or educating the citizens about certain laws, policies, and programs concerning the public.

I must give credit to Nakaseke Central County Member of Parliament, Hon. Allan Mayanja Ssebunya who in difficult times organizes legal aid clinics in his constituency to sensitize the citizens about the laws governing the country. The moment the people are sensitized about the law, then they learn their civic rights and avoid being duped into illegal acts.

Through the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Equal Opportunities Commission, Human Rights Commission and other government bodies like the Legislature, Police, and Judicial Service Commission to mention but a few, a big role must be played to involve the citizens about the intentions of a bill and pursuant to article 1 of the Constitution the citizens must have a right to welcome this bill or not basing on their concerns. A bill or an amendment must not be a do-or-die. A bill must cater to the citizens’ benefits but not an individual’s.

The government must play its role to educate the citizens about the supreme law, lest whenever the bill or an amendment shall be introduced in Parliament without the citizens’ involvement, the public shall not welcome the law because it will be looked at as a bill that was brought in bad faith to favor an individual at the expense of citizens.  

By Denis Mugonza Waggumbulizi | Advocate, Researcher & Entrepreneur

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