FDC calls for constitutional reforms in 2019 as a way to curb M7 powers

FDC party spokesperson Ssemujju Nganda

Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has demanded that the government undertake fundamental constitutional reforms in 2019. Addressing journalists during the weekly party press conference at Najjanankumbi based party headquarters in Kampala yesterday, the party spokesperson, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, called for reforms to address fundamental constitutional issues.

FDC has also queried the constitutional reforms carried out, which, among others, include the removal of term limits in 2005 and the December 2017 abolition of the presidential age limit, alongside the extension of the tenure of office for Members of Parliament and local council leaders from five to seven years.

The Seven years extension has since been quashed by the Constitutional Court, which approved the removal of age limit last year, a decision since challenged through an appeal in the Supreme Court. The party has also called for the formulation of a new Constitution, maintaining that the noble value of the 1995 Constitution had been violated due to the irrelevant amendments. Reforms, according to the party, should effectively define and separate roles of state institutions, reinstatement of term and age limits and undertake electoral reforms.

Nganda maintained that the reforms are necessary to address pertinent issues which threaten the country’s progress and stability. Commenting on the COSASE leadership stand-off, Nganda, who is the Opposition whip in Parliament, revealed that FDC has written to the Speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, in a move intended at striking a compromise over parliament’s committee on statutory authorities and state enterprises (COSASE) leadership stand-off.

Kadaga, addressing journalists on Thursday last week, insisted on her decision to extend the tenure of the Abdu Katuntu-led committee to February, until investigations into the closure of commercial banks by Bank of Uganda are complete.

In a reshuffle by FDC party president Patrick Amuriat Oboi in July last year, Mubarak Munyagwa, the Kawempe South MP, was appointed COSASE chairperson to replace Bugweri MP Katuntu. The Speaker announced the decision to extend the tenure before Parliament broke off for the Christmas recess in December last year.

However, in the letter dated January 7, 2019, addressed to the Speaker and copied to the Deputy Speaker, leader of government business, the Government chief whip, Clerk to Parliament, FDC secretary general and leader of the opposition, Nganda warned Kadaga that;

“this will be an illegality that would subject the committee business thereafter to legal challenges”.

“However, make the undertaking that when the designation issue is dealt with, we request and I have already discussed the matter with the new COSASE leadership to co-opt Hon. Abdu Katuntu and any other member to specifically chair the Bank of Uganda inquiry as per rule 206,” the letter reads.

Insisting that the Opposition is open to discussing on the matter with Kadaga further, Nganda noted that this was the only legal way of dealing with this matter. Dropped leaders continuing to transact the committee business on behalf of the FDC, according to Nganda, contradicted procedures as stipulated under parliamentary rules of produce 157 (5).

“Madam Speaker, you recall that in an August 13, 2018 letter, you requested me to stay change of COSASE leadership and other accountability committees to enable leaders then conclude pending business and report to plenary. However, FDC did not agree to the proposal, but surprisingly, the dropped leadership has not only continued to transact business of the, committee on behalf of FDC contrary to rule 157 (5) of our rules of procedure, but also embarked on new business, including Bank of Uganda.”

Nganda explained. It was not established whether Kadaga had accepted the proposal by FDC.