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Attorney General wants Succession bill shelved

FILE PHOTO: AG, William Byaruhanga

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Attorney General, William Byaruhanga has asked Parliament to shelve the Succession (Amendment) Bill, 2018 because government will table comprehensive property-related bills in two weeks’ time.

Byaruhanga made the appeal on Wednesday while appearing before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee.  The bill was in May moved by Mbarara Woman MP, Kajungu Mutambi.

The Bill among other things seeks to amend the Succession Act, 1906 to conform to the Constitution of Uganda for gender equality and also repeal unconstitutional provisions, to eliminate discrimination regarding customary heirs and heiresses and to protect principal residential property of the surviving spouse.

Byaruhanga says that Kajungu did not seek guidance from his office. He explained that had she sought guidance, she would have been informed that the succession Act should be amended alongside other laws that relate to management of properties of deceased persons.

Byaruhanga also added that his office and that of the Administrator-General as the implementing agency have conducted preliminary studies and consultations on succession and property management for the last ten years.

In May, Cabinet approved amendments to five laws relating to administrative management of properties of the deceased.  These are the Succession Act, Administrator General’s Act, and Estates (Small Estates) (Special Provisions) Act, 1972.

Also, the Estates of Missing Persons Act, 1973 and the Probate Resealing Act, 1936 are supposed to be amended.

Committee members led by Busiro East MP, Medard Sseggona Lubega asked Byaruhanga to justify why parliament should shelve the Bill in favour of government Bills which have not been presented to the House.

Byaruhanga also disagreed with some of the provisions of the Bill. The provisions in contention include the revision of percentages of distribution of the estate of the person who has died without a will.

The Bill proposes that surviving spouses should get 50 percent of the estate, while children should get 41 percent, down from the current provision of 75 percent in the Act.

Byaruhanga says that the proposal does not protect the rights of children who form over 55 percent of Uganda’s population of about 40 million. He also says that the provision is tilted in favour of women, and not children, whose rights and interests should be protected and catered for.

He also cited proposals on sharing property among spouses upon separation, customary heirs and heiresses and also redistribution of principal residential properties as possible areas for heated debate in the public domain.

Government proposes to among others remove the provision for legal heirs, limit powers of administrators and also give time frames for letters of administration to curb mismanagement of properties of the deceased, surviving spouses, children and other dependents.

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