Under Uganda’s 1995 constitution, one cannot, in a multiparty system continue to represent the electorate as an independent Member of Parliament and at the same time serve the ruling party as a minister, if the government is not a coalition government.
The affected ministers accepted their ministerial appointments by the President without taking into consideration the provisions of Uganda’s constitution.
The affected ministers have in the past two years been attending Meetings organized by the ruling party including party caucus; something constitutional experts say contradicts the constitution.
But the government has a different opinion. According to Government deputy spokesman, the call to suspend the ministers is illegitimate.
The Ministers could on top of their suspension refund all the emoluments, privileges, salaries and other benefits they drew unconstitutionally.
According to Uganda’s constitution, the ministers should have first resigned their parliamentary seats before accepting the ministerial appointments by the president. Their participation in cabinet is seen as a direct violation of not only the parliamentary rules of procedure but the constitution as well.
Article 83 (1) (g) and (h), one cannot, in a multiparty system, continue to represent the electorate as an independent MP and at the same time serve the ruling party as a minister, if the government is not a coalition government, Tumwesigye argues in his petition.
Humphrey Tumwesigye, a resident of Nkongooro, Nyabihoko, Ntungamo district through his lawyers Kyazze & Co Advocates recently dragged the Attorney General, the Electoral Commission and four junior ministers Asuman Kiyingi (Regional Affairs), Amali Caroline Okao (Microfinance), John Chrysostom Muyingo (Higher Education) and Alex Onzima (Local Government) to the Constitutional court, arguing that since they were elected to Parliament as independents, it is unconstitutional for them to serve in the NRM government as ministers.
He argues that since they joined Parliament as independents, the ministers should first have resigned their parliamentary seats before accepting the ministerial appointments.
He further argues that having accepted their appointment as ministers in the ruling NRM government, which is not a coalition government, the ministers contravened articles 1 (i), 2, 4, 83 (g) and several other provisions of the constitution.
It should be recalled that in the February 2011 landmark ruling, the Constitutional court threw out more than 70 MPs from Parliament for having switched political party allegiance before resigning their parliamentary seats.
According to shadow Attorney General Abdu Katuntu, if an independent MP crosses to another political party, he or she is automatically supposed to lose the parliamentary seat.