14 July 2017

Uganda: Constitutional Amendment Bill Tabled in Parliament

Photo: File photo/The Monitor
Parliament during plenary session.

Kampala — The Deputy Attorney General (AG), Mr Mwesigwa Rukutana, on Thursday tabled the Constitutional amendment Bill, 2017 in Parliament.

The Bill seeks to amend Article 26 of the 1995 Constitution, in accordance with Articles 259 and 262, to enable the central or local government to deposit with a court of law compensation awarded by the government for the property declared for compulsory acquisition.

It seeks to empower government to take possession of the property upon depositing the compensation awarded for the property with court, pending determination by the court of the disputed compensation amount.

The Bill also seeks to give the owner of the property or person having an interest in the property the right to access the right compensation awarded at any time during the dispute resolution.

Parliament, according to the Bill, would have powers to prescribe the time within which disputes arising from the process of compulsory land acquisition shall be determined.

As soon as the deputy AG completed reading the objects of the Bill, many MPs shouted 'no'. The shadow attorney general, Mr Wilfred Niwagaba, said instead of piecemeal amendments, the government should come up with a comprehensive Constitutional amendment Bill.

"In particular, you (Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga) directed that a Constitutional Review Commission be put in place with a view to see what aspects of the Constitution are going to be amended," Mr Niwagaba said.

"Is it procedurally right for the [deputy] Attorney General to defy the directive of the Speaker and the orders of this House to come up with a Bill that is intended to amend the Constitution in piecemeal and in particular to steal our land?" he added.

At this point, Ms Kadaga said Mr Rukutana should be allowed to present the Bill for the first reading. "I do not know what is contained in the Bill. Let him (deputy AG) present it and our committee [on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs] will tell us what to do with it," Ms Kadaga said.

Just two days ago, Ms Kadaga, told legislators that though she had heard about the Bill, she had not seen it. She asked the government to clear the air about the Bill since what was out in the public was to the effect that the Bill seeks to lift the age limit for presidential candidates.

Mr Rukutana said there is no plan yet to amend the Constitution to that effect.

Objective of the Bill

The Bill also seeks to give the owner of the property or person having an interest in the property the right to access the right compensation awarded at any time during the dispute resolution.

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