OP-ED

RICHARD BYAMUKAMA: Among Must Resign as Deputy Speaker to Avoid Influence over Speakership Elections

Is it a matter of Substantive or Procedural rules? That’s a matter for the Chief Justice to decide before presiding over the election of the next Speaker of Parliament. We are not running a Kangaroo nation where it has to be a person with authority to dictate what they want to become or even to preside over it.

For colorful elections to take place, there should be impartiality in the entire process. The current deputy speaker if at all she is willing and probably she’s endorsed by CEC as its flag bearer for Speakership, she is supposed to resign and pave way for impartiality in the process. She could have not yet resigned because it is still a matter to be decided by the NRM party (by CEC) to which she subscribes as a member.

Our country has a set of rules which have to be observed closely. However much there’s no clear provision of the Constitution forcing the deputy speaker to resign or a clear Constitutional stand of a succession of Speakership position after the death of the Speaker of Parliament, procedurally, the Constitutional powers are granted onto the Chief Justice or a judge designated by the Chief Justice to preside over the election of the Speaker, and then the Speaker shall preside at an election of the Deputy Speaker. This is provided for under Article 82 Clause 5 of the Constitution.

In law, it is procedurally wrong that the Chief Justice will preside over a parliament with a deputy speaker standing as the Speaker at the same time without resignation. This raises many doubts of influence over the electoral process by use of the powers of deputy Speakership. This could include using the current powers of deputy Speakership to intimidate junior members of Parliament forcing them to subdue due to fears of being blocked out after victory of Speakership or, even after failure because the position of deputy Speakership will be retained. It could also involve using the implied powers of deputy Speakership to influence the election process or the election outcomes which could involve malpractices of elections and voter bribery.

This will see the issues of court cases arising after the elections as the other parties of the elections will have fertile grounds for expressing dissatisfaction. This, however, does not reflect a Constitutional crisis anywhere and doesn’t anywhere require amending the Constitution, it’s only because people tend to ignore procedural matters. But if at all majority of the Ugandans and their representatives decide that the succession procedure of the Speaker after the death of the incumbent be impliedly stated clearly, then the Constitutional Amendments can take forth to modify and rectify the minor queries in the substantive rules.

However, if the deputy speaker decides to remain in the current position, there’s no any single rule concerning the business of the office. The Parliament under the a special sitting presided over by the Chief Justice will go ahead with the business of electing only the speaker from among the contestants and then Parliament will be fully composed because the position of the deputy Speakership will be already filled constitutionally.

If the deputy Speakership falls vacant after the resignation of the incumbent, it implies that after the election of the Speaker, the Speaker will again preside over the election of the deputy speaker during the first sitting of Parliament (Article 82 Clause 6 of the Constitution)

I’m at the same time seeing a circulation on social media about the resignation of public officers, but kindly note that two offices of the Speaker and deputy speaker are not anywhere stated as Public Offices under Article 82 or anywhere in the Constitution. The procedure of resignation doesn’t follow that of public service rules and standing orders. With these two positions, one can resign any time in writing addressed to the Clerk to Parliament as provided for under Article 82 Clause 7(C).

For God and My Country.

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