Sunday April 22 2012

Pro-term limit legislators now at 103

By Isaac Imaka & Shabibah Nakirigya


As the term limits debate heats up, the number of pro-constitution amendment MPs has reached 103, from Friday’s 93.

Those in favour of the restoration of term limits have argued that the move would entrench democracy in a country that has never witnessed a peaceful transfer of power.

However, a section of members who are supporting the motion suggest that upon restoration of term limits, the number of years should be increased to seven instead of five for a president.

“With term limits, its better to have seven years other than five and it should not work on presidents only but also other leaders like Members of Parliament and councillors,” said Mr Jacobs Wangolo (NRM, Butaleja West).

In the region, Rwanda is the only country with a seven-year two-term limit.
Although the number stands at 103, the rules of procedure require two thirds of the entire membership for the motion and the Bill to go through. With a Parliament of 378 members, it requires 250 MPs for the Bill to pass.

According to the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure a Private Members’ Bill is introduced first by way of motion to which shall be attached the proposed draft of the Bill; a motion has already been presented to the Speaker.

If the motion is carried, the printing and publication of the Bill in the Gazette shall be the responsibility of the Clerk.

If granted leave, Mr Gerald Karuhanga will go to the Parliament’s Legal Department to help him draft the Bill using legal language. Then the Attorney General’s Chambers will give its opinion on the legal implications of the Bill.

Mr Karuhanga has to get a Certificate of Financial Implication from the ministry of Finance to accompany the Bill. Once the certificate of financial implication has been secured; the draft is taken to the Government Printery in Entebbe to print more copies.

The the Speaker then directs that it be included on the Order Paper for the First Reading in the House. Then Speaker commits the Bill to a relevant committee of Parliament, in this case the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.

The committee meets separately to weigh the pros and cons of the Bill. It also usually conducts a public hearing to get their input. The committee then prepares a report, which it gives to the Speaker and is brought to the whole House for second reading. The House debates the Bill clause by clause.

After the discussion, the Speaker asks the House whether it supports the Bill or not, and if the House supports it, it then goes to the ‘Committee of the House’ stage. If the MPs support this, Mr Karuhanga will ask the House to adopt and pass the draft into law. If they support it, it will be taken to the President for assent.