The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has asked Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Ephraim Kamuntu to explain the delay by the President to approve electoral reforms ahead of the 2021 polls.
Parliament considered and passed 25 bills during its fourth session that ended on June 4, 2020. These included five electoral bills, which were described as key legislation in guiding aspirants, candidates and managers of the electoral process and the public during 2021 electoral season.
Among them is; the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill, Political Parties and Organizations (Amendment) Bill, Local Government (Amendment) Bill, Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill, and Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill which were all passed between February 27, 2020, and March 5, 2020.
But although the electoral season officially started yesterday Monday, June 22, with Political Parties and Organizations identifying flag bearers for Special Interest Groups (SIGs), online with the revised electoral roadmap, Parliament is concerned the key reforms for the process and not yet approved.
The constitutional affairs Minister Ephraim Kamuntu told parliament on Tuesday that the bills were submitted to President Yoweri Museveni for assent but there is no response yet. However, the Minister said that the matter was discussed in Cabinet on Monday and that the President is giving them attention.
The Speaker’s query prompting a response from the Justice Minister followed uproar from a section of MPs over the electoral laws.
Rubaga North MP Moses Kasibante wondered why voters in Kampala have not received a response from the Electoral Commission on the gazetted electoral places after engaging stakeholders within the area and claiming to be creating electoral areas.
Makindye West MP Allan Sewanyana also said that the Local Government Amendment Bill, with key sections requiring education qualifications for some elective positions is also note assented to. In line with the query, MPs noted that the National Council of Higher Education (NCHE) is already charging 2 million Shillings for verification of academic documents of prospective political candidates in the absence of a law.
Gulu Municipality MP Leandro Komakech told Parliament that he had received a petition from some prospective candidates in Gulu who were questioning the charges by NCHE, describing the fee as prohibitive. Candidates are also required to pay 3 million Shillings for parliamentary nominations and 20 million Shillings for presidential nominations.
But Kamuntu told political parties to only front candidates with clean academic documents.