Some Members of Parliament have started hatching a new plot to table a motion for the ‘reinstatement’ of their 7year term.
According to sources, the MPs most of whom are from the National Resistance Movement (NRM) ruling party are preparing a new motion that will also come as a private members’ bill to attempt to extend their tenure from current 5 to 7years. Sources added that the Government Chief Whip Anna Nankabirwa is soon organizing an NRM caucus meeting where they will sit and discuss among others things how to ‘reinstate’ the 7year term.
On December 20, 2017, MPs passed the controversial Constitutional Amendment Bill, (No.2), 2017, dubbed Age limit Bill that scrapped upper presidential age limit and extended MPs’ term to 7years with effect immediate.
However, last week, five judges led by deputy chief justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo in the consolidated petitions challenging the enactment of age limit Bill, quashed the MPs’ 7year term saying it was passed in selfishness.
In particular, Justice Cheborion Barishaki in his ruling said that the MPs acted in selfishness and were serving their interests by extending their term in office from 5 to 7 years with immediate effect. He quelled the MPs’ decision to also amend article 77(3) and 181(4) of the Constitution to extend term of office of MPs and Local Council chairpersons from 5 to 7years respectively.
“Parliament did not have authority to amend this section without considering other sections of this constitution. They are unconstitutional and therefore fall by the wayside,” he said.
Barishaki added, “It was selfish and goes against the principle of good governance. If it had been done in the will of good governance then it would have taken effect in next parliament. Therefore, these provisions were passed in disregard of various provisions of the constitution and parliament rules of procedure.”
It is on this basis that the MPs think that they have been unfairly denied the opportunity to serve for 7years and that they could still amend it to benefit the MPs who will return in the next parliament.
“I was in support of the 7year tenure for economic reasons to allow the country to save. Imagining having 4 elections in 20years compared to 3 elections when MPs have 7years tenure. And secondly, you come out of the election and before you even start you work you are going into another election. The 7year tenure gives you time to focus on your work and to me that was valid,” Raphael Magyezi, the mover of the age limit Bill said on Tuesday.
On July 30, President Yoweri Museveni bashed judges for quashing the MPs’ 7year tenure saying that “the judges are “Unfortunately, our judges in Uganda spend more time on form and not substance, on procedure and not substance. My freedom fighter’s sense of justice, in this matter (the age limit ruling) focuses more on the convenience of 7 years rather than 5 years. With the 5 years, a lot of time is spent on electioneering and less time on development; the 1st two years settling in, the 3rd year some work in the constituency and, then, by the 4th year, electioneering again,” Museveni said.