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Activists petition court to stop MPs from serving as Ministers

Petitioner Michael Aboneka (Left) and his lawyer George Musisi at the Constitutional Court in Kampala. PHOTO URN

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Human Rights Activists have petitioned the Constitutional Court seeking an order for the Members of Parliament who are also Ministers to vacate their offices.   Lawyer Michael Aboneka alongside a non for non-profit organization Walezi Wa Katiba Foundation argues that the current arrangement, where MPS get appointed as Ministers, is contrary to the doctrine of separation of powers.   Separation of powers, therefore, refers to the division of government responsibilities into distinct branches to limit any one branch from exercising the core functions of another. The intent is to prevent the concentration of power and provide for checks and balances.

According to the petitioners, the Constitution provides for the independence of the three arms of government which include Parliament, the Judiciary, and the Executive. These arms have a distinct function independent of the other.

Through their lawyers from PACE Advocates, the petitioners contend that the MP who doubles as the Vice president, Prime Minister, and Minister without resigning his or her office as MP belongs to two arms of government.   They describe this as a fusion of both the Executive and Legislature contrary to the doctrine of separation of power.

The petitioner’s lawyer George Musisi says that the MPs who double as ministers receive double remuneration and allowances which is a wastage of the taxpayers money.

This argument has come up in the past. MPS who have been appointed for ministerial posts have tended to choose to receive the salary of a Member of Parliament because it is normally higher. MPS who get appointed to the Executive however earn allowances and other benefits in the form of cash drawn from the consolidated fund. The records also indicate that the double benefits and emoluments such as vehicles, fuel allowances, and per diem for trips abroad is a wasteful expenditure and waste of taxpayers’ money contrary to public trust.

There had been similar concerns about instances where the President has appointed judges to serve in positions that fall under the Executive.   In 2021 the Constitutional Court led by fallen Justice Kenneth Kakuru ruled that it is illegal for a Judge to be appointed to any executive or constitutional office before his/her resignation. Kakuru’s decision was to affect people like the Director of Public Prosecution Jane Frances Abodo, the then IGG Irene Mulyagonja, and the Electoral Commission Chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama.

However, the Attorney General appealed to the Supreme Court and secured a stay of execution order which gave the said office bearers power to remain  in the same positions save for Mulyagonja who has since returned to the Constitutional Court.

In their petition filed against the Attorney General, the petitioners contend that the MPS who double as Ministers are accountable to the president as their supervisor, and at the same time, they are expected to be independent and provide oversight over the same Executive.

In his affidavit, Aboneka states that chapters 6, 7, and 8 of the constitution provide for independent arms of government, parliament, executive, and the judiciary each with clear and distinct functions independent of the other.
“That I know that a prime Minister forms of the executive arm of government under chapter 7 as the leader of government business under Article 108A (2)(a) and therefore an MP who also doubles as a prime Minister without resigning their former role as MP belongs to two arms of government; the legislature and executive which is a conundrum and a fusion of both executive and legislature contrary to the doctrine of separation of powers, checks and balances and legislative independence,” Aboneka states. According to the petition, an MP who also doubles as Vice President is bound by the collective responsibility doctrine to the extent that they cannot present any views of their constituents that are contrary to the Cabinet /Executive Resolution position thereby denying their constituents the right to representation.

“It undermines the role /doctrine of oversight and representation where an MP who doubles a Vice President denies their constituents the right to representation on the floor of Parliament and in the Committees of Parliament under Article 90 because of the nature of their roles, functions and responsibilities thereby denying their constituents the right to representation”, adds the affidavit.

They now want Court to address this ongoing violation of the constitution and oversee that there is harmonious co-existence of the provisions of the constitution.

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URN

One comment

  1. I support the idea that’s totally wastage of taxpayer’s money

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