Members of Parliament on Tuesday queried government’s sudden change of decision to disown the Marriage and Divorce Bill after what they called wastage of resources on its consultations.
This comes after the Marriage and Divorce Bill was technically downgraded on the Order Paper on Tuesday.
Debate on the bill now appears to be hitting a snag as both government and opposition are now opposing the proposed law.
Last month, Government returned the bill, which was first tabled in 2009, for second reading and eventual passing, but was stayed pending further consultations, leading to Parliament to go on recess to allow members consult their voters on the matter.
The Bill seeks to reform and consolidate the law relating to marriage but it has received criticism from religious, political and civil leaders who say its passing is being rushed and could destroy the institution of marriage.
According to the legislators, in the course of consulting their voters, cabinet realized the bill was unpopular only fit to be thrown out and some ministers have since disowned it.
The legislators now demand that government explains why it has disowned the bill, with some ministers including Simon Lokodo, Jessica Alupo, and Adolf Mwesige among others joining President Yoweri Museveni in openly speaking against the bill.
MPs Francis Epetait, Chrispus Ayena, Lattif Ssebaggala and Abdu Katuntu among others say government should own their bill instead of denying it having observed that it’s unpopular.
Ayena described the change of position by government as populism, likening to producing a baby and bringing to others to kill. He said government owes legislators an apology for the time they wasted while on consultations.
Epetait, the Ngora County MP, said it portrayed confusion on the side of government for it to turn around and fight its own bill before the public.
The legislators now think that government has shifted what they have described as a bad bill to parliament, to give an impression to voters that it originated from their Parliament representatives and not cabinet.
The MPs’ concerns come after a two-week period of consultations on the controversial bill on which majority of the MPs say they have received negative response from their voters.
But Deputy Attorney General Fred Ruhindi defended cabinet saying it has never denied the bill since he brought it to Parliament.
As parliament resumed business today, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga denied knowledge of the five million shillings allegedly given to MPs for consultations on the marriage and divorce bill.
Latif Sebaggala, the Kawempe North MP, asked the speaker to clarify whether legislators received any money for consultations because according to him, constituents have been asking for it. Kadaga denied knowledge of any money given to legislators saying the Parliamentary Commission has never met to approve it.
The Leader of Opposition in Parliament Nandala Mafabi warned MPs not to take the money on grounds that the Auditor General will find difficulty in tracing its source.
There have been reports that the President wrote to the Speaker of Parliament instructing the Commission and the Clerk to Parliament to effect the payment of the money to the legislators in time for the consultations.