By Brian Kisomose
It is quite commendable to see to it that finally the judiciary and other arms of government have appointed six new judges.
The judiciary is still ‘crippled’ due to lack of enough judicial officers but the recent appointments of judges is a credible step. This has, however, been criticised by some legislators who claim that the President is discriminating the Muslims.
In my opinion such an assertion is a misconception, unfounded and un authoritative argument aimed at fulfilling selfish interests of its authors, castigating hatred and segregation among citizens .The ‘desperate legislators ‘of all people should be in a better position to appreciate the fact that Uganda is a secular state and various religions have been respected because it is a creature of the supreme law of this land.
The bill of rights in the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda provides for equality of all persons and freedom from discrimination under Article 21.If one says that Muslims are not appointed then also other people from other religious sects will come out and demand for appointment not only in the judiciary but also in other government departments, ministries bodies and other institutions.
If the legislators claim that Muslims are only discriminated in the judiciary, does it imply that in other departments, arms of government and ministries they are not? If the answer is in affirmative then they cannot claim that they are discriminated, if the answer is no then the legislators are up to fulfilling their selfish interests as usual.
Muslims in Uganda are not a marginalised group. I am not a Muslim but I think equating them to such a category of people under Article 32(3) of the 1995 Constitution is an insult and quite demeaning. Literally marginalisation means to treat a person, group as insignificant or peripheral i.e. by removing such a religion from public space and reliably I do not think this has happened in Uganda.
It is a fallacy for one to say that the President is insensitive to the Muslim community. To me this does not in any way make sense at all but rather more or less like an analogy without formula. The Constitution is crystal clear when it comes to appointment of judicial officers. Article 147 of the same provides for the functions of the judicial service commission and one of them among others is to recommend such officers for appointment. It is very clear that if the President appoints any judicial officer who has not been recommended by the judicial service commission and not approved by Parliament such an appointment will be null and void due to such illegalities and irregularities it will be more or less ‘defiling the Constitution’.
My humble prayer to MPs Mariam Nalubega and Latif Ssebagala is to appreciate the law before driving the public astray .When one talks of Constitutional rights it does not simply mean relying on a few provisions of the law to the exclusion of others but to extensively interrelate with other legal provisions. Interlocking political and religious interests is a trend worth not taking because the two can never be reconciled.
Appointments of government officers and other employees in various departments should be based on one’s potential, credibility and competence among others but not religion, race, or tribe because religion and tribe are very sensitive issues that people take to be very personal. It may seem to be primafacie a simple concern as raised by the legislators but it can easily create hatred among masses and thus resulting into religious wars of which as a state we are not ready to shed blood sparked off by mere selfish allegations.
The appointment procedure in the judiciary as provided for in the Constitution is very transparent Whoever thinks qualifies to take on the responsibility of a judicial officer should be vigilant enough to respond to advertisements for such posts by applying for the same. I have never witnessed any advertisement in the media for judicial officers that restricts applicants’ basing on religious background.
The writer is from School of Law Makerere University