Lawyers in Uganda call for slash of the number of legislators


Mitooma Woman Member of Parliament Jovah Kamateeka (L) wants some sensitization before women representation can be eliminated

The Uganda Law Society (ULS) has proposed amend to the constitution to reduce representation in Parliament to one legislator per district.

The lawyers  body also proposes the removal of the army and women representatives out of Parliament.Presenting their views on the various proposed constitutional amendments, the lawyers pointed out that the presence of the military in the House only serves to stifle debate.

Currently, Parliament has 112 women Members of Parliament and 10 Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) representatives.

Kaloli Ssemwogerere, the chairman of Uganda Law Society Legal and Research committee, says the woman representative per district should be eliminated, arguing that representation in Parliament should on merit not gender.

Ssemwogerere appeared before the committee together with Irene Kwaga, the Uganda Law Society Legal head policy, research and advocacy, Uganda Law Society Executive Director Grace Nuwagaba and others.

However, these proposals did not go well with some Women MPs sitting on Parliament’s legal committee who thought otherwise.

Mitooma Woman MP, Jovah Kamateeka contested the recommendation saying that the girl child cannot be equally competitive since there are a lot of cultural practices that work against a woman.

“Before recommending for the removal of women MPs in parliament, there should first be sensitization of women about the matter” Nakayenze Connie Galiwango, the Mbale Woman MP said.

UPDF representative, Major Sarah Mpabwa tasked Uganda Law Society officials to justify the statement that the presence of the army in parliament has not facilitated free debate in parliament.

Representation of special interest groups is due for review this year in line with the constitutional provision that special interest groups should be reviewed after every 10 years.

Meanwhile, the Uganda Law Society also recommended for a ceiling on the number of constituencies to be created. In their presentation, the law society notes that this provision would help cure the imbalance in representation under constituencies.

They also note that it will be cost effective in terms of usage of funds during elections in addition to reducing the burden of expenditure on the national budget in terms of administrative and operation costs.

The Body has also proposed an amendment to the qualification of a parliamentarian under Article (80) (1) of the constitution to provide that a member should be a graduate from a recognized university or institution.

They also suggest that for one to be a member of parliament should have attained the age of 25 years. On the Speaker of Parliament, the lawyers suggest that the Speaker should be appointed by the Parliamentary Commission through an Independent process to manage the affairs of the House for at most two terms.

They note that she or he should not be a member of any party. They further recommend that ministers should not be elected members of parliament saying that the doctrine of separation of powers requires that the three branches of government operate independently of each other.