The le­gal­i­ties sur­round­ing the Of­fices of Deputy Pre­miers

By: Parliament Reporter

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.