Buried in 62 pages are 57 amendments to the Constitution approved by cabinet, which give more powers to President Museveni.
Speaking in an interview today, the Attorney General Peter Nyombi said the draft amendments had been forwarded to the Uganda Law Reform Commission, which will incorporate proposals from the general public.
Cabinet in the draft amendments seen by The Observer approved more powers for the president, more powers for government to acquire private land and also proposed that an MP will lose hisher seat if heshe is expelled by the respective political party.
“It is thereafter [Uganda Law Reform Commission] that the final bill will be considered by the cabinet’s subcommittee on legal matters for approval before it is introduced in Parliament,” Nyombi said.
The draft document also proposes that “the president can be allowed to revise the estimates of revenue and expenditure from the self-accounting departments, commissions and organisations, before submitting them to Parliament.”
Currently Article 155(2) of the Constitution empowers accounting officers of self-accounting bodies to send their budgets to the president, but under clause 3 of article 155 such estimates are laid “before Parliament by the president under clause (1) of this article without revision… ”
The cabinet also approved more powers for the president to control the Uganda Police Force. An amendment to Article 212 of the Constitution suggests, “The president may give to the Uganda Police Force directions on matters of policy.”
In justifying the amendment, cabinet says, “this gives the president more powers due to public interest to regulate the police in its operations as a matter of national policy.”
Cabinet also proposes more powers for the president to appoint acting ministers to do ministerial work until Parliament approves ministers nominated by the president. In the amendments, the president can sack the Director of Public Prosecutions on grounds of inability to perform his or her duties arising from infirmity of body or mind or misbehaviour or misconduct or incompetence.
Currently, the Constitution guarantees the DPP independence in the exercise of hisher functions as well as having the same terms and conditions of service as those of a High court judge.
Cabinet also approved the reconstitution of the Electoral Commission into an Independent Electoral Commission and its membership shall be appointed by the president in consultation with leaders of political parties. The proposals do not include the restoration of presidential term limits – long clamoured for by civil society and the opposition..
Interviewed on December 17, DP President General Norbert Mao said it is unfortunate the president is getting more powers through constitutional amendments.
“Those amendments are not good for the country how can it be provided that the president should have all those powers?” He spoke to The Observer at the sidelines of a dialogue organised by the Centre for Constitutional Governance to debate constitutionalism in Uganda.
Mao said the current Constitution also bestows more powers on the president and makes it inevitable for a good leader to become a dictator. Former minister Amanya Mushega, a lawyer by profession, said: “The procedure to amend the Constitution should be elaborate…this helps people to think about it,” he said, adding that even when the Constitution is amended it should not be changed, for the benefit of those holding power.
“It should never be for convenience to those in power…the law must affect even those who apply it,” he said.
Other amendments include the establishment of a Salaries and Remuneration commission that will streamline salaries and emoluments of public servants.
Cabinet also approved that a person may stand for election as a candidate independent of a political party if that person – (a) is not a member of a registered political party or organization and has not been a member for at least six months immediately before the election and (b) is supported by at least one thousand registered voters in the constituency.
Voters to get powers to recall an MP under the multi-party political system.
IGG to have full control over prosecutions under the jurisdiction of the Inspectorate.
The Supreme court shall consist of seven members of the Supreme court when hearing appeals from the decisions of the Court of Appeal sitting as a Constitutional court.
Retirement age raised by five years each for chief justice, deputy chief justice justices of the Supreme court and Court of Appeal principal judge and judges of the High court.
Chief Justice shall be the chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission.
The Bagabo and Bakingwe included on the list of indigenous communities.
The Constitution to be taught in all educational institutions and armed forces training institutions.
Uganda Land Commission to be prohibited from selling land belonging to a ministry, department or agency of government without consulting with the ministry, department or agency.
IGG to be removed from office in the same way as judicial officers.
Source : The Observer