Monday February 10 2014

Muslims deserve fair treatment

The President of Uganda has from time to time appointed Ugandans to various government offices notably, cabinet ministers, heads of constitutional bodies, government agencies, judicial officials, permanent secretaries, ambassadors, among others, as the Constitution of Uganda provides.

However, in many of these appointments, there has been a trend that has become persistent - to deliberately discriminate against Muslims in these appointments. On various occasions, as Muslim MPs, we have raised the matter with the Speaker at the time of vetting but our concerns have been ignored even when the Speaker has informed the appointing authority.

The Muslims in this country have for long been marginalised, a matter that we have continuously brought to the attention of the President through the Speaker, the last time being the approval of 28 judges presented out of which, there was no Muslim. To our surprise, the President has nominated an additional six judges again with no Muslim. It is in the same vein that again the appointing authority has not listened to our usual reminders.

It should be noted that this is not the only area where Muslims are marginalised by the appointing authority. The practice is also evident in the appointment to other government jobs and across all public offices. Under Article 21(2) of the 1995 Constitution as amended, it is stated that;

A person shall not be discriminated against on the ground of sex, race, colour, ethnic, tribe, creed or religion, social or economic standing, political opinion or disability’. Article 32(3) mandates and obligates the State to eliminate any form of discrimination against individuals or groups on grounds of sex, age or ethnic background and the Equal Opportunities Act, 2008, was purposefully established to address this historical injustices and imbalances. The equal opportunities commission was specifically established to carry out this mandate of fighting discrimination.

We consider this a deliberate attempt by the appointing authority to deny qualified Muslims opportunity to serve in this government, a matter that violates the Constitution as it borders on discrimination. Therefore, by not having Muslim nominees on the list again and coupled with the above, we consider this unconstitutional. Our prayer is that this matter is investigated and the chronic problem addressed.

Latif Sebaggala A. Sengendo, MP and parliamentary Imam