The new bill introduces a clause that proposes that a person who evicts or attempts to evict a lawful occupant of the residential holding commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding 168 currency points (3.36 million Shillings) or imprisonment not exceeding seven years or both.
Jackson Kafuuzi, the Deputy Attorney General arrives at Parliament for vetting. Photo by Olive Nakatudde
The government is proposing a jail term of seven years for anyone found guilty of
evicting a widow, widower, orphans and other lineal descendants from a home, in
case of the death of a spouse.
The jail term is suggested in the new Succession Amendment
Bill which was re-tabled before
Parliament and signed by Attorney General, Kiryowa Kiwanuka.
The Bill was first presented in 2018 by a private member Rosette Mutambi Kajungu, the former Mbarara Woman MP, and passed in April 2021 by the tenth parliament. But President Yoweri Museveni returned it to parliament and asked for the reconsideration of a new agreement for sharing property where a spouse dies without a will.
Parliament had then provided
that where a person who dies without a will, is survived by the spouse and a dependent relative but no lineage dependents, the spouse shall receive 80 per cent of the whole property of an intestate, while the dependent
relative shall receive the remaining 20 per cent.
However, President Museveni said that the
provision was a complete departure from earlier provisions of the law and had
no clear justification. Museveni argued that the provision would be unfair to
dependent relatives and also create disharmony between the surviving spouse and
the deceased’s relatives. He
proposed that the widow or widower receive 50 per cent of the estate,
dependent relatives 49 per cent of the estate and the customary heir takes one per cent of
The President also criticized a clause that sought
to provide that the surviving spouse of the intestate shall not take any
interest in the estate if the marriage between them was suspended either by agreement or judicial officer.
He proposed that this clause is deleted because
it is ambiguous.
But the new bill introduces
a clause that proposes that a person who evicts or attempts to
evict a lawful
occupant of the residential holding commits an
offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding 168 currency points (3.36 million Shillings) or imprisonment not exceeding seven years or both.
If passed into law and assented to by the President, the
piece of legislation will help end injustices that widows and orphans face after the demise of a
spouse from greedy relatives evicting them from homes.
The Constitutional Court in the case of
Law Advocacy for Women in Uganda Versus Attorney General declared provisions of
the Succession Act, 1906 relating to the distribution of estates of intestate
persons unconstitutional and discriminatory against the female.
The Principal Act provides that a widow ceases to occupy the
principal residential property when she remarries but the Act is silent on
widowers who remarry. This Court ruling
caused a lacuna in the Law which the Government is seeking to cure in the new Bill.
According to Deputy
Attorney General, Jackson Kafuuzi, the proposed Bill seeks to address the
disparity and also provide for the rights of women and equality between spouses
in the distribution of property.