Mr Simon Peter Kinobe, the president of the Uganda Law Society (ULS), which brings together practicing lawyers in the country, has in a recent television interview berated Parliament and used extremely derogatory language.
In the NBS TV interview, a clip of which was circulated widely, Kinobe said: “I am one of the people that believe that Parliament is the biggest burden our country has had. It is totally useless. We don’t have many people of substance.”
He went on to allege that Parliament has “become a deal House,” where “they [members] even steal extra!”
This is indeed unfortunate, coming from someone of his stature and who occupies such a vital position in the country.
Given his designation and position, Mr Kinobe should be at the forefront of enlightening the public about Parliament.
This includes its functions, establishment and the importance of the institution, which is the second of three arms of government and has a key role in the democratic governance and rule of law in the country.
Parliament is a creation of the Constitution. Article 77 (1) says: “There shall be a Parliament of Uganda.” Article 79 (1) then adds: “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament shall have the power to make laws on any matter for the peace, order, development and good governance of Uganda.”
In this, the Parliament has done right. The Legislature comprises elected representatives, who present the views of their constituents (representation), make laws (legislation) and offer much needed checks on the Executive (oversight).
Further, Parliament considers and approves the National Budget, without which government will not carry out its functions.
The ULS has on several occasions been in Parliament, appearing before its committees to present their wise counsel on draft legislation, a contribution duly acknowledged by legislators.
The legislators have been very respectful of and cooperative with members of the Judiciary and the legal fraternity.
Mr Kinobe’s outburst, which smirks of disrespect and lack of objectivity to a large extent, is unfortunate and looks more like playing to the gallery.
If not for anything else, Kinobe should have exhibited some level of respect to the heads of the institution, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, and several members, who are members of the lawyers’ body and have collectively achieved or even offered more to the democracy and rule of law of Uganda than he has.
Although not many educated and non-educated Ugandans would identify with the ULS, its president, or mention its functions and value to the country, comparing the Judiciary and Legislature and concluding that the former is of more use than the latter, shows a poor understanding of the workings of the three arms of government.
His deduction, wrongly, is that government in a democratic society can effectively function without the legislature.
These utterances by Kinobe intend to drive a rift between the Judiciary and Legislature, but will unfortunately fail in this endeavour.
It is Parliament’s considered view that he takes further schooling in the functions of the Legislature and how it feeds into the other arms of government, before he makes public statements of the nature that he did.
Mr Katamba is a senior information officer, Parliament of Uganda.