KAMPALA – The motion by John Baptist Nambeshe (Manjiya County) seeking leave of Parliament to introduce a private member’s bill entitled ‘The Religious Organisations Bill 2019’ that seeks to provide a legal framework for registration, regulation and management of religious organisations received protest from MPs who argued that the move is a wastage of time.
While presenting the bill on the floor of Parliament, Nambeshe said that the proposed Religious Organisations Bill doesn’t contradict with constitutional provisions on freedom of worship but only seeks to harmonise the activities in religion.
However, when his motion was put up for debate, a number of MPs rejected it with Janepher Nantume leading the protesting team who rejected the proposal to have a Bureau set up to register the various denominations saying it would lead to duplication of agencies that Government is fighting to reduce.
She said: “Since this is a calling from God, we can’t turn ourselves into small gods to regulate religion. Leave it alone, we don’t need the bill here.”
Milly Mugeni (Butaleja Woman MP) rejected the motion saying that had Nambeshe brought a bill on the landslide in Bududa, Parliament would have supported him overwhelmingly, and said the bill is a wastage of time since nobody has complained of his/her freedom of worship being trampled on in Uganda.
Mugeni said: “I don’t think we should give him leave to waste his time on this matter because nobody has complained about being refused from freedom of worship.”
Arua Municipality’s Kasiano Wadri kicked off by confessing to being friends with Nambeshe but wasn’t going to support his bill saying that Catholics can’t accept to be subjected to any form of registration.
He said that the catholic church will not support this type of legislation and the mere fact that Parliament can make any laws, except changing man to woman, MPs have better things to do than look at regulating religion.
Kasiano said: “Freedom of worship is a constitutional matter, for you to come up with a proposal that you want to clap our wings, it is something we should safeguard against. Whereas we are here 459Mps we must know we aren’t the majority, religion is a conviction in the heart, let us go slow.”
Ssemujju Nganda also admitted to being friends with Nambeshe but wondered why of all the subjects that require legislation in Uganda, why the Bududa MP would settle for religion.
“I am actually shoccked that of all subjects that exist, is require our faith to be registered. What my faith will consider a satanic deed. Because you are my friend, I want to persuade you to withdraw your bill. This is a matter of faith. I didn’t know that there will be another Amin seeking leave of Parliament. As a house we must be very conscious, let us not abuse our own rules. If the rules allow you to present private bill, you shouldn’t present one that seeks to abolish parliament simply because you have the right.”
Gaster Mugoya wondered why Nambeshe wasn’t candid enough to Pentecostal churches regulated arguing; “It appears the Bill is contentious. What we are seeing is laxity with law enforcement agencies. We shouldn’t hide our faces, Nambeshe should have been candid and told us that we have Pentecostal churches that have transformed their sects into business.”
Okin Ojara(Chua West) was the only Legislator in support of Nambeshe’s bill saying it will be critical at curtailing cults that have seen people lose their rights like the case was in 2000 in Kamwenge where Ugandan were burnt to church alive.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga told MPs that there is need for them to grant Nambeshe leave to present his motion and they can’t simply lock his proposed bill out stating, “We legislate for the whole country. Sometimes unpalatable things are brought here but you can’t say we don’t want to listen.”
After attempts to have a vote taken on motion failed because of quorum, the Speaker deferred the debate at a later hour, prompting the plenary sitting to proceed with other business on the order paper.