The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mathias Mpuuga has called for the review of the constitution saying it is long overdue.
Mpuuga said this as he delivered the Opposition response to the State of the Nation address during plenary on Wednesday, 03 August 2022.
While making a presentation on gender balance and fair representation of the marginalized groups, Mpuuga said that it is time for citizens to have an honest deliberation on the level of representation in the country.
He said that while it is a constitutional obligation to ensure balanced and fair representation of the marginalized and special interest groups, there is an aspect of over representation and reference to some special groups as listening posts.
“To the contrary, some have been proud to pronounce themselves as listening posts; they are voted to merely listen and not to speak. No wonder the public is agitated by the administrative costs incurred for mere listening amidst a troubled economy,” Mpuuga said.
Mpuuga said as the Opposition, they believe that it is time to review this kind of arrangement which is misplaced and does not advance democracy and representation.
He added that some people have argued that representation of special interest groups is an affirmative intervention that should be time bound or have the years of representation capped.
He said that some people argue that constituency members of parliament by their sex, age, and professional trade can represent the interests of women, youth, elderly and workers.
“Given the fact that the constitution has been operating for 26 years since its promulgation on 22nd September 1995, it is long overdue for a review. Aware that we are in a multiparty dispensation when constituting a Constitutional Review Commission, consideration should also be taken to appoint at least a representative from each of the political parties represented in Parliament.” Mpuuga said.
On the economy, the Opposition proposed that government should avoid undue dependence on external financing.
He noted that 46 per cent of this year’s budget is through borrowing and grants while the entire domestic revenue cannot fund the country’s recurrent expenditure of Shs34.04 trillion.
On disasters in the country including floods and famine, Mpuuga wants government to fully replenish the contingencies fund to fight natural disasters when they occur.
He also proposed that government should operationalize provisions in Section 51 of the National Environment Act by declaring conservation areas in every region in the country, adding that this will buttress the legal protection of the fragile ecosystem.
Additionally, Mpuuga called on the government to brief the House on the development of a national food reserve and seed bank in a bid to fight hunger in areas like Karamoja.
“Parliament on 31 July 2018 passed a resolution urging the government to establish a national food reserve and seed bank. Ever since then, no physical progress has been registered,” Mpuuga stated.
Mpuuga also wants the amendment of the Land Act to protect elderly persons from losing their land. He said that government should not consider the constitutional amendment to forcefully acquire land adding that the Opposition will present a policy paper on land management and administration.