Members of Parliament have called for wider consultations on the
proposal to extend the term of Members of Parliament and the Presidency from
the current five years to seven years.
In 2019, the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of
Parliament which was then scrutinizing the constitutional amendment bill tabled
by Ndorwa East MP Wilfred Niwagaba on the reinstatement of term limits, removal
of the Army from Parliament and introduction of a Deputy President reintroduced
the proposal to extend MPs tenure which had been rejected by the court.
The introduction of the proposal comes after the Supreme Court
upheld the Constitutional Court decision that rejected the extension of the
term of Members of Parliament of the 11th Parliament based on the fact that the
MPs were elected on a five-year term and this could not change.
The committee says that for the presidential term limit to be
meaningful, the Presidential term has to be sufficient enough to enable the
President to implement and fulfil his or her manifesto. It is the considered
opinion of the Committee that the term of five years is insufficient for the
implementation of the manifesto to have a meaningful impact on the development
of the Country. This implies that the MP term would be extended.
The committee says that as it scrutinized the bill, it received
memoranda and presentations from various stakeholders who proposed that the
term of President be extended from the current five years adding that many
countries on the African continent have or are in the process of extending the
term of their political leaders to an average of 6 to 7 years.
Now as Parliament is due to consider the report of the committee,
MPs including those who drafted the report have said there is a need to consult
widely on the bill.
According to some of the MPs, the scope of the consultation was
limited to the boardrooms in Kampala and yet this is something that touches
the entire country especially the voters.
The Vice-chairperson of the Legal Committee Sam Bitangaro says
that although they consulted on the 7-year term extension, he supports the idea
of a wider consultation involving Uganda.
He says then, they decided to add the 7-year term based on arguments
that the electoral process was such an expensive process with the Electoral Commission,
security among others incurring billions of shillings for the country. Bitangaro
says that MPs also felt they needed more time since the first two years is basically
for learning, and by their last year, the MPs haven’t concluded their work.
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Veronica Eragu Bichetero a Member of Parliament for Kaberamaido
and a member of the committee says that they did not consult the public. She says
the move cannot pass without seeking the views of the public.
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Medard Ssegona the MP Busiro East says that the issue is not about
the duration, but the fact that voters need to be involved. He however says
Ugandans should also not be made to wait for many years to renew an MP’s mandate.
He suggests a referendum on the matter.
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Anthony Okello, the MP Kioga County MP says that it is unfair for
MPs to change the term from 5 years to 7 years yet the contract they have with
Ugandans is five years. He says this amendment can be okay only if Ugandans
agree to it and are made aware that they are voting in MPs for 7 years.
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Although Articles 77 and 105 of the constitution is clear that the
term of Parliament and that of the President shall be five years, amending it
will require a referendum since it is linked to article 1 of the constitution
which says that all power belongs to the people according to Male Mabirizi who
challenged this decision in the courts of law.
it comes to pass, the proposal will not be implemented for the 11th Parliament,
as the voters already gave them a mandate of 5 years.