President Museveni says his daughters will inherit a portion of his wealth, contrary to African customary laws which bar women from inheritance. “I have already made my will because at some point I will die and in my will, my girls will inherit from me,” he said on Thursday in Entebbe at a meeting with over 200 women activists led by the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA).
The President, who has three daughters; Natasha Karugire, Diana Kamuntu, and Patience Rwaboogo, wondered why African cultures bar girls from inheriting their fathers’ wealth. Mr Museveni and his wife Janet also have a son, Lt. Col. Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
Among the President’s known assets is a house in Rwakitura, Kiruhura District and a ranch with hundreds of head of cattle in Kisozi, Mpigi District. “Why did Africans not give inheritance to the girls? They just imitate what their friends (in the western world) are doing,” said a jovial Mr Museveni, who added that the women movement in Uganda has not done sufficient research on some of the archaic customary laws that need to be reformed.
Mr Museveni, however, explained that traditional African men never allowed their daughters to be their inheritors as a result of the severe clan wars that existed at the time.
“The women were not inheriting because there was a lot of insecurity arising from clan wars where one tribe would fight another. Secondly many tribes bar women from marrying within the same clan in order to avoid inbreeding. This was simple logic. They would wonder why they should give their cows to tribes who were going to fight them,” he said.
Stop noise making
President Museveni challenged the women to “tackle” the inheritance question instead of just making noise. “Where is the paper you have produced about the sociology of inheritance? I am able to accumulate property for my children because the clan wars are no more. Where is your social research about the exclusion of women from inheritance?” he added.
Customary laws in Uganda view girls as outsiders who cannot inherit their fathers’ property or even take their lineage forward since they are married off. Under section 27 of the Succession Act, girls cannot inherit their father’s property but women activists have protested against the law calling it archaic. The section has since been challenged in the Constitutional Court with the women arguing that some of its provisions are unconstitutional.
The President warned women against copying western culture which is detrimental to African cultural values. “Among the Banyankole my mother was not called by the husband’s name but now we have adopted the practice. Mrs Museveni, Mrs so and so. Did we think about all this or we just invented it?” he wondered. He emphasised that the women’s movement should carry out comprehensive social research to base their arguments on logic in order to move the country forward.
The President also addressed issues of security, economic empowerment, the budget and the worrying maternal mortality rates and blamed the Ministry of Health for not doing enough to stem the problem. “The problem now is negligence. The problem is with the Ministry of Health and their confusion but it gets reinforced by the confusion among stakeholders,” he said. “All they want are contracts. At one time they had introduced the home care services. You are failing to manage health centre IIIs at the sub county and you are looking for sick people yet you cannot provide for those around.”
The UWOPA chairperson, Ms Jane Babiha (Woman, Bundibugyo), said more resources should be directed to the health sector to reduce the maternal mortality rates. “The Ministry of Finance promised a loan request of Shs40 billion which is what is needed annually to reduce maternal deaths. We need an assurance from you that the money shall be provided,” Ms Babiha said.
The women in the memoranda submitted to the President also complained of being left behind on ‘fat’ political jobs. They demanded that the slot of the Prime Minister and that of the Vice President given to women. “I actually encourage the women to come up and compete for the big jobs with the men because generally women are more reliable than the men. Even in the bush women were very reliable when it came to keeping the money,” the President said. He said women MPs should desist from the habit of offering money when attending burials in their constituencies and fundraisings. “You should instead teach your electorate about how to empower themselves economically through fighting poverty,” he advised.
Former Vice President Specioza Wandira Kazibwe also encouraged the women to set up SACCOs to empower themselves. “When I divorced Kazibwe, my status did go down because I have my money.” she said. The former Vice President divorced with her husband, Eng. Kazibwe after she accused him of assaulting her, including slapping her once during a doemstic scuffle.