Statement by Center for Constitutional Governance on the 20th Anniversary of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda (08.10.2015)
Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the 1995 Constitution as Amended. Many, if not all African countries have Constitutions. It is one thing to have a Constitution; it is another to practice Constitutionalism.
Constitutionalism presupposes three things:
i) A belief in the Constitution by many political parties and political leaders. If the main political actors do not believe in Constitutionalism, you may have a constitution as a mere document with no constitutionalism;
ii) Recognition of its importance by the main actors in the citizenry or population. If the Constitution is of relevance to a few people in the capital, in the political parties or academia; then you cannot have constitutionalism where there is no minimum consciousness by major actors amongst the population.
iii) Presence of organized political forces that are not only interested in constitutionalism but are ready to defend it.
Once you don’t have the above three elements, you cannot have constitutionalism – a belief needed by the major political actors, recognition of its importance by the citizens or its major actors and the presence of organized political forces that are prepared to defend it. If these tenets are not present, constitutionalism becomes an academic or religious ritual; the way like many people say “our father who art in heaven, or hail Mary full of grace”.
A constitution may also become a ritual if the above elements are not present among the political leaders, among the citizen and if there are no organized political forces prepared to defend it
The passing of the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2015 yesterday, 11th August 2015 by majority MPs, after totally dis regarding the peoples’ views amounted to an overthrow of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, as amended.
The spirit of the Constitution is enshrined in its preamble and paragraph 5 of that preamble states that: EXERCISING our sovereign and inalienable right to determine the form of governance for our country, and having fully participated in the Constitution-making process. The sovereign and inalienable right of Uganda was usurped by the MPs through the failure of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament to integrate peoples’ views in their report and the subsequent total disregard of the peoples’ views by the whole House.
What we have in place after the 4th Amendment is a New Constitution that has no consensus of the people, which does not represent the peoples’ views and aspirations of the people on how they would like to be governed. This was in fact the birth of the 2nd “Pigeon Hole Constitution” of the Republic of Uganda.
Faced with a rubber stamp Parliament which ignores peoples views and goes ahead to amend the National Constitution ,the people of Uganda should therefore, strive to restore constitutional order premised on peoples’ views and aspirations on how they wish to be governed. We call upon the people to elect MPs that will respect their allegiance to the Constitution and commit to restore the sovereign and inalienable right of Ugandans by setting up a qualified Constitutional Review Commission to restore the supremacy of the people
FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY.