The legalities surrounding the Offices of Deputy Premiers
Whenever society experiences change in system it also witnesses change in practices. In 2005, the Ugandan society experienced a change in political system that is from the movement system to multiparty system. This was done by amending the 1995 Constitution in 2005 to provide for among others the Office of the Leader of Opposition in Parliament; and the Office of the Prime Minster.
This doesn’t mean that the country did not have a Prime Minster before but the amendment came in to constitution-alize the office of the Prime Minister. However, the constitution only recognizes the prime minister. Article 108A of the Constitution states: “There shall be a Prime Minister who shall be appointed by the President with approval of Parliament by simple majority from among members of Parliament or persons qualified to be elected members of parliament”. The constitutional provision does not recognize the offices of 1st; 2nd; 3rd Deputy Prime Ministers and Deputy Leader of Government Business in Parliament as well.
If that is so, are the Offices of Deputy Prime Ministers lawfully obtained? While debating the report of the Parliament Committee on Rules and Privileges on the Rules of Procedure of Parliament, Fred Ruhindi, the then Deputy Attorney General, argued: “The Deputy Premiers are principally Ministers. When they were sworn in, they were sworn in as Ministers. This idea of assigning them extra responsibilities is an internal arrangement”. This came after Milton Muwuma, Kigulu County MP objected to the creation of the Office of the Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Rules of Procedure of Parliament on the grounds that it’s not recognized in the constitution hence being unconstitutional.
The Attorney General’s argument of assigning extra responsibility may not hold if we are to take the case of the current 2nd Deputy Prime Minister and also Deputy Leader of Government Business Gen Moses Ali. Save for his colleague Henry Muganwa Kajura who is the Minister for Public Service and 1st Deputy Prime Minister. He didn’t come with any portfolio. He was just appointed directly to the positions of 2nd Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Leader of Government Business.
Although the Deputy Attorney General further argued that when cabinet members are sworn in, they are sworn in as Ministers save for the two positions of the Attorney-General and Deputy Attorney-General and the deployment is thereafter the President, who is the appointing authority, assigns responsibilities after he has designated one a position either as minister or minister of state.
When the President writes to the Speaker of Parliament who is also the Chairperson of the Appointments Committee responsible for vetting and approving cabinet ministers under Article 113 (1) of the Constitution, the President attaches a Ministerial Portfolio against the name of the person he recommends for a particular position. And these Ministers cannot swear in until they are approved by Parliament. Therefore, the Attorney General’s argument that the appointing authority assigns you the responsibility after the designation is just a formality and not the actual practice.
My honest view on these positions is that they are aimed toward ensuring efficiency in government, the financial resources being spent notwithstanding. However, they are more administrative than legal.