The Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among stopped the house on Tuesday from considering the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2022 that seeks to include five ethnic groups as indigenous communities in Uganda pending a Constitutional review process by the government.
The Speaker called for a stand over on the Bill to provide room for a holistic amendment of the Constitution. The Kibanda South MP, Jacob Karubanga, was lined up to present the bill for its first reading on Tuesday.
“I notice that the object of the Bill is to amend the Third Schedule of the Constitution. Whereas we are duty bound to ensure equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized such as the ethnic communities that the Bill seeks to include in the Constitution, it is imperative that this is done comprehensively,” Among said.
The five ethnic groups seeking to be recognized as indigenous communities in Uganda as of 1st February 1926 are the Bakingwe, Baziba, Bagabu, Maragoli, Mosopisyek and Saboat.
She added, “We ask the Justice Minister to ensure we have a constitution review commission in place to have a holistic amendment of the constitution other than having piecemeal amendments.”
Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, the Kira Municipality MP had said that several other members have in the past proposed Constitutional Amendments and these have hardly been processed by parliament. He questioned the process of setting up a Constitutional Review Commission that government has consistently promised parliament.
In response, Muruli Mukasa, the Acting Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs said that the process of establishing the Constitutional Review Commission has started and the proposal has been forwarded to the Cabinet.
However, Solomon Silwany, the Bukooli Central MP said that the statement given by Muruli is the same reason that has been given to parliament in previous sittings.
Among directed the Minister to present a statement on Tuesday next week on the progress made by government to establish the Commission. During the financial year 2019/2010 budgeting process, the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee report noted that the establishment of the Constitutional Review Commission required 13.13 billion Shillings.
This followed a list of 14 people who were reported to have been appointed by government to sit on the Commission to consider various constitutional reforms.
They are the former Attorney General, Prof. Khiddu Makubuya, who would be deputized by former Speaker of Parliament, Francis Butagira. The other members were Nusura Tiperu Omar, the former EALA representative, former St Francis Chapel Chaplain, Makerere University, Rev. Amos Turyahabwe, High Court advocate Paul Wanyoto, Law Development Centre lecturer Dr Diana Musoke.
Others were former MP and lawyer Dan Wandera Ogalo, former Ambassador Richard Angualia, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Charles Elem Ogwal, Uganda National Youth Council Chairperson Lillian Aber, and Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) Research Director Kamdi Byonabye.
Appearing before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee in January 2019, the former Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Kahinda Otafiire, said that the Commission was ready to start work, but were just waiting for the Ministry of Finance to avail funds.