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Law for traditional leaders long over due

By Vision Reporter

Added 22nd December 2010 03:00 AM

THE Government has tabled a Bill — the Institution of Traditional or Cultural Leaders Bill — seeking to provide for the recognition of the traditional leaders, their privileges and benefits as well as govern their activities.

THE Government has tabled a Bill — the Institution of Traditional or Cultural Leaders Bill — seeking to provide for the recognition of the traditional leaders, their privileges and benefits as well as govern their activities.

However, some of the officials of Buganda Kingdom have fears that the Bill is mainly intended to weaken the kingdom. And, responding to these fears, the Prime Minister Prof. Apolo Nsibambi, this week clarified that the Bill is intended to operationalise Article 246 of the Constitution.

Article 246, which has several clauses, provides for the existence of the institution of traditional leaders and also spells out the guiding principles for them. The article is among provisions of the Constitution that are entrenched. Any amendment to the article must be approved by all Ugandans through a national referendum. The article was entrenched to avoid a repeat of the 1967 situation where monarchies were undemocratically abolished.

However, since the Constitution was promulgated in 1995, Parliament had never enacted a law to operationalise these Constitutional provisions as required. The absence of a law has left the traditional leaders to operate in a legal vacuum. Although the Government has been according the traditional leaders some benefits and privileges, these are not statutory. It means the Government can withdraw these benefits at will.

The absence of a law to regulate the traditional leaders has also created political complications. How are the traditional leaders supposed to relate to both the Central Government and the local governments and vice versa? How should the traditional leaders relate to foreign leaders and countries? And how should the traditional leaders relate to each other? Where a traditional leader is in breach of the law, particularly commits a crime, how should he or she be sanctioned? What are their privileges? The Bill tabled by the Government attempts to resolve these matters. However, there should be wide consultations before the Bill is passed and enacted into law.

Law for traditional leaders long over due

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