Parliament has granted its Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs three months in which to consult and report on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019, a move that narrowly caused drama as MPs defied the short time given.
The period will also be used by the Committee to consider five succession related bills, said Hon. Abbas Agaba (NRM, Kitagwenda), a member of the committee, who sought the time extension during the plenary sitting on Thursday 6 February 2020.
Agaba told the House that the 45 days given to the committee to consider the Bill that was presented to the House on 19 December 2019 was not enough to conduct the much required national consultations to be done.
“The proposals being made on the amendment of the constitution are wide reaching and we are trying to reach out to as many citizens as possible, and as such we need enough time to present a good report on this bill,” said Agaba.
This Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is a private members’ proposal moved by Hon. Wilfred Niwagaba (Ind., Ndorwa East) seeking to abolish representation of the army in Parliament, repeal the office of Prime Minister and reinstate presidential term limits.
The succession related bills include the Administration of Estates, Small Estates or Special Provisions Amendment Bill 2019, Administrator General’s Amendment Bill 2019, Estates of Missing Persons Management Amendment Bill 2019, Probate Resealing Amendment Bill 2019 and Succession Amendment Bill 2019.
“These bills were referred to the committee on 14 August 2019, which was busy handling the five electoral reform bills that were presented by the Attorney General in 2019, which were urgent and are now ready,” he said.
The electoral reform bills include the Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill 2019, the Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill 2019, the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill 2019, Political Parties and Organizations (Amendment) Bill 2019 and the Local Government (Amendment) Bill 2019.
Legislators, however, expressed concern over the number of days requested by the Committee to process the pending succession related bills, noting that that time was running by fast.
“We shall be tabling ministerial policy statements and then go into the budget process by March to May. Nomination for parliamentary candidates will be in August, so we need to look at these bills as soon as possible,” said Hon. Chris Baryomunsi (NRM, Kinkizi East).
He advised that that committee would devise means of fast-tracking the work on their hands so as to scale down on the time needed to complete it.
“You can divide your work and assign it to sub-committees. There, you can reduce the time needed from 90 days to 45 days; so that you expedite the work if we are to do it in this term,” Baryomunsi said.
Kadaga, while granting the extra time to the committee, urged members to work expeditiously to bring all the bills in a shorter period of time.