Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Inspectorate of Government (IG) has called for the immediate enactment of the Leadership Code (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
According to the Deputy Inspector General of Government (IGG) George Bamugemereire, parliament needs to fast track the piece of legislation before the declaration period of March 2021.
Introduced in 1992, the Leadership Code Act that was last amended in 2017 by parliament sets limits on the financial behaviour of public servants, require leaders to declare their incomes, assets and liabilities and put in place enforcement mechanism and other matters.
Under the proposed new legislation, a leader shall be taken to have an interest where an income or asset is owned or developed by the leader, jointly owned or developed by the leader with another person, is acquired or developed by the leader for another person and others. The others are when the income or asset is held in trust by the leader for another person or is contained in a joint account for the benefit of the leader and another person.
Also proposed is to increase the period within which the Inspectorate of Government may undertake verification of a declaration from 60 days to 90 days, empower the Leadership Code Tribunal to hear appeals from any person whose application to access a declaration has been rejected by the Inspectorate, extend the jurisdiction of the Leadership Code Tribunal to complaints made by any person aggrieved by a decision of the Inspectorate and others.
According to government, one of the defects in the Leadership Code (Amendment) Act passed by Parliament in 2017 is that it refers to a leader having an interest in a property and also refers to proof of ownership of the declared assets which two provisions are just requirements and not breaches yet. The two provisions under the current law attract dismissal from office.
While presenting the bi-annual IG performance report to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga on Thursday, Bamugemereire said that the absence of the Leadership Code (Amendment) Bill, 2020 has made it impossible for the recently appointed Leadership Code Tribunal to commence hearings.
“The Bill is currently at Committee stage but if it is not passed in time, the Leadership Code Tribunal will not have jurisdiction to deal with the declarations which are due to be submitted in March 2021,” said Bamugemereire.
He emphasized that the Leadership Code Tribunal is sitting idle since their work depends entirely on the Bill. On 25th July 2020, President Yoweri Museveni swore in the new members of the Tribunal and these are the Chairperson Dr Roselyn Irene Karugonjo Ssegawa, the Deputy Asuman Kiyingi and other members Jane Arume, Didas Bakunzi Mufasha and Joyce Nalunga Birimumaaso.
This tribunal was appointed by the President acting on the advice of the Judiciary Service Commission and with approval of Parliament.
Besides the amendment seeking to harmonize breaches with the corresponding sanctions, Bamugemereire said that they will also need another amendment to deal with cases of public conduct of public officers. He says that such cases can be dealt with by the Tribunal rather than running to courts of law.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said that she would task the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee to fast track the Leadership Code (Amendment) Bill so that it is passed by the end of February.
Jacob Oboth, the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee Chairperson said that his committee has also received a letter from the Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo and that they would be able to fast track the Bill.