Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Artificial tribal fighting over #Landgrabbing in #Uganda - #Tororo

Just the same way as Hon. Paul Etiang (Daily Monitor, June 18), I confess to an emotional attachment to the issue of Tororo District, since I support its continued existence. However, aside from history and sentiment, the basic fact relating to the proposed abolition of Tororo District is that it is a legal and constitutional matter. The historical mistakes in Hon. Etiang’s article are partially excusable since he is the main architect behind the intended split of the district.
The fact of the matter is that any attempt to abolish Tororo District is not simply a matter of a change of name. It is manifestly unconstitutional, and Parliament should be advised accordingly. This is because Article 5(2) stipulates that Subject to article 178 of this Constitution, Uganda shall consist of- (c) the districts of Uganda, as specified in the First Schedule to this Constitution, and such other districts as may be established in accordance with this Constitution or any other law.
Of the thirty-nine (39) districts initially listed in the First Schedule, Tororo was number 16. These 39 districts can be regarded as the mother districts enjoying constitutional entrenchment and protection. In other words, they are fundamental to the description of Uganda as the legal entity described in Article 5. Since the coming into force of the Constitution on October 8, 1995, 41 new districts have been created in addition to the original 39. All 41 new districts have been carved out of a parent existing district, while the latter has retained its original identity.
Think only of districts like Arua, Kabarole, Kiboga, Mbale or Mbarara, all of which have given birth to new districts, but continue to exist today. Indeed, Hon. Etiang might be surprised to learn that in the specific case of Tororo out of which have come no less than three districts (i.e. Butaleja, Busia and Palisa) the mother district of Tororo has remained intact, with Tororo Municipality as its headquarters. None of those who split from the old district had the temerity to suggest that they take Tororo Municipality with them; they all created their own new district headquarters.
Thus, not only the law, but even the practice with respect to the creation of districts does not favour Etiang ‘s misinterpretation of the facts. The suggestion that the new district take Tororo Municipality is thus nothing short of ethnic imperialism, and it violates the law. But more importantly, in order to abolish Tororo District, Article 5(2) must be amended.
This is because the operative word in that article is SHALL It is not may, or perhaps. In other words, to abolish any of the original 39 mother districts is to change the fundamental character of Uganda. Hence, unless and until Article 5(2) is amended, any attempt to abolish any of the original 39 districts is unconstitutional.  In conclusion, let me also advise that in order to amend Article 5(2), Article 261 needs to be read thoroughly. That article specifies that in order to make an amendment to Article 5(2), there must be a specific bill to that effect presented to Parliament. That bill must be supported (at the second and third readings) by not less than two-thirds of all members of Parliament.
In addition, after being passed by Parliament, that bill must be ratified by at least two-thirds of the members of the district council in EACH of at least two-thirds of ALL the districts of Uganda.
As far as I know, no such bill has ever been presented to Parliament. What is before Parliament is a Motion for Resolution of Parliament. If the government wants to abolish Tororo District, let it now be put on notice that nothing short of complete and total fidelity to the Constitution will be acceptable. Members of Parliament are also advised to look carefully at Article 2. It points out that the Constitution is supreme; any actions taken outside the framework of the Constitution are manifestly null and void.
By Mr. Oloka-Onyango who is the director, HURIPEC-Makerere University

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