MPs Call for Wider Consultations on Proposed 7-Year Term

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.
Parliament of Uganda

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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.

If 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. 

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