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MP Niwagaba proposes Vice President, PM’s position repeal

Hon Wilfred Niwagaba, the Ndorwa East MP tabling Bill before the House. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – Ndorwa East MP, Hon Wilfred Niwagaba has sought the leave of Parliament to table a Constitution Amendment Bill which seeks to scrap the position of Vice President and Prime Minister, among a cocktail of other proposals.

The objects of the Constitution Amendment Bill 2019, outlines its ambitious intentions.

Key in the proposed amendments is the creation of the position of Deputy President, who unlike the current provision in article 99 of the Constitution will be chosen by a candidate for president as a running-mate.

The Deputy President proposed will swallow up the Office of the Prime Minister and be the Leader of Government Business in Parliament and among others exercise all functions currently reserved for the Prime Minister.

Presidential term limits are to be reinstated and restricted to two five year terms only, if clause 12 of the Bill sees the light of day.

Politicians seeking to be Ministers but are already Members of Parliament, will have their dreams doomed by the success of the Bill, which seeks to have Ministers appointed from amongst people possessing the qualification of MPs but not being MPs themselves.

Commissioners of the Electoral Commission who are currently 7, will, should the leave be granted and the Bill passed, be increased to nine.

Appointment of Commissioners and the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission will, according to the Bill, have to be done through a rigorous process involving the Judicial Service Commission and public vetting in what analysts see as borrowing from the practice in neighboring Kenya.

The Bill seeks to secure the tenure of the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, by making their occupancy for five years renewable only once.

The Leader of the Opposition is now proposed to be the leader of the opposition political party with the highest number of MPs in the House, and will be an ex-officio MP, as will be the case with the Attorney General and the Deputy.

Section (f) of the object seeks to “to remove representation of the army from Parliament,” a proposal the Opposition has been mooting for years.

The Parliamentary Commission will, if the motion is granted and the Bill passed, be appointed by the Parliamentary Commission, who will recommend nominees for appointment by the President, a role currently exercised by the Public Service Commission.

Speaker’s panel

The Speaker’s panel, consisting of three MPs chosen by the Speaker, will, in the absence of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, preside over the House.

Civil Servants seeking to join elective politics will no longer suffer the dilemma of choosing between their jobs or shelving their political dreams until retirement but now have to seek leave of absence and descend hard onto politics, with the option of returning to their positions after the polls.

Deputy Attorney General, HON Mwesigwa Rukutana could not follow through the motion without raising procedural objections.

“What is before you is a motion for leave to present a Private Members’ Bill…when I look at article 93 of the Constitution; I want to tell you that the Bill has financial implications…it is proposing to increase the number of Electoral Commissioners among others,” said Rukutana.

He placed the first procedural hurdle, which forced Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah to rest the matter, and await his “comprehensive procedural guidance.”

Oulanyah warned MPs against hardline positions in Parliament.

“I was here in this chair when arguments were pelted against the Hon Member for Nakifuma [MP Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko] that a Private Member cannot move a motion to amend the Constitution…never take a line that will end up tying the hands of a Member of Parliament,” said Oulanyah.

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