Members of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee yesterday endorsed the Attorney General's proposal to present a Bill approved by Cabinet on distribution of spousal property upon death of a family head.
The Attorney General, Mr William Byaruhanga, appeared before the committee to explain why the members should adopt the Succession (Amendment) Bill 2018 and abandon the Private Member's Bill presented earlier.
He said the Private Member's Bill favours only the widow at the expense of the children. Mr Byaruhanga explained that under the Private Member's Bill, when a husband dies, his widow is entitled to take 50 per cent of his estate, his children take 41 per cent while his relatives are entitled to 9 per cent.
He noted that the Bill is not fair to the children since most men in the country have more than five children. Giving the biggest share to the widow who might get married to another man is unrealistic, he explained.
"In any family, the children are the majority. Therefore, this provision of giving 50 per cent of the estate to the surviving spouse is going to cause a lot of issues if this law was to go out to the public. We all know that the proponents of this law are fully aware that women generally outlive men. This law is intended to favour women at the expense of children whose share has been reduced from 75 per cent to 41," Mr Byaruhanga continued.
"There is a false claim that when you give to the widow, you have as well given to her children. This is not true because if she is remarried and, for example, dies, her new spouse would be entitled to 50 per cent of her property and he may not even have children with her. So we are saying let the children be given their share directly," he added.
Mr Byaruhanga further argued that the Private Member's Bill applies to only monogamous marriages yet many men in the country are polygamous.
"This Bill applies to only men with one wife and children. What happens to men with multiple spouses and children? This is segregative in nature. The government Bill is targeting all men since the government has to look for solutions for all its people," Mr Byaruhanga submitted.
He also said the Private Member's Bill does not put into account adopted children and the step- children yet the law permits a man to give some of his estate to the step-children his wife came with when getting married.
He asked the committee members to drop the Private Member's Bill because it is not based on research and will cause chaos in the country.
"There is a very clear bias in favour of widows but the law must be made for all persons at all times. There shall be a [litany] of cases in court if this Private Member's Bill is adopted and a court is the worst place you would want to take the succession issues to. We ask members to put it on shelf," Mr Byaruhanga said.
The committee chairperson, Mr Jacob Okoth, said they were satisfied with the Attorney General's presentation and asked Mr Byaruhanga to proceed with the government plan. Mr Byaruhanga will present the Cabinet Bill in Parliament in two weeks.
Justification. The Attorney General, Mr William Byaruhanga, also said the Private Member's Bill does not put into account adopted children and the step- children yet the law permits a man to give some of his estate to the step-children his wife came with when getting married. He asked the committee members to drop the Private Member's Bill because it is not based on research and will cause chaos in the country.