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Law Society's Kinobe wrong about the work of Parliament

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Added 30th June 2020 05:26 PM

In a recent interview on a local television, a clip of which was circulated widely, Kinobe said, "I am one of the people that believe that Parliament is the biggest burden our country has had. It is totally useless. We do not have many people of substance...," he said. He went on to allege that Parliament has "become a deal House", where "they (members) even steal extra!"

Law Society's Kinobe wrong about the work of Parliament

Mohammad Katamba

In a recent interview on a local television, a clip of which was circulated widely, Kinobe said, "I am one of the people that believe that Parliament is the biggest burden our country has had. It is totally useless. We do not have many people of substance...," he said. He went on to allege that Parliament has "become a deal House", where "they (members) even steal extra!"

OPINION | LAW | PARLIAMENT

By Mohammad Katumba

Simon Peter Kinobe, the President of the Uganda Law Society (ULS), a body which brings together practising lawyers in the country, in a recent television interview berated Parliament using extremely derogatory language.

In a recent interview on a local television, a clip of which was circulated widely, Kinobe said, "I am one of the people that believe that Parliament is the biggest burden our country has had. It is totally useless. We do not have many people of substance...," he said. He went on to allege that Parliament has "become a deal House", where "they (members) even steal extra!"

[image_library_tag 7184bd8c-b4c9-4626-9771-a5844155c2dc 720x443 height="443" width="720" alt=" Peter Kinobe, the President Uganda Law Society during launching of Open Justice, A closed or open Reality for Uganda's Media .This was at Hotel Africana on November 26, 2019. (Photo by Abbey Ramadhan)" ]
Peter Kinobe, the President Uganda Law Society during launching of Open Justice, A closed or open Reality for Uganda's Media .This was at Hotel Africana on November 26, 2019. (Photo by Abbey Ramadhan)

This is indeed unfortunate coming from someone of his stature and who occupies such a vital position in the country. Given his designation and position, Kinobe should be at the forefront of enlightening the public about Parliament.

This includes its functions, establishment and the importance of the institution, which is the second of three arms of government and has a key role in the democratic governance and rule of law in the country.

Parliament is a creation of the Constitution. Article 77 (1) says: "There shall be a Parliament of Uganda." Article 79 (1) then adds: "Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament shall have the power to make laws on any matter for the peace, order, development and good governance of Uganda." In this, Parliament has done right.

The Legislature comprises elected representatives, who present the views of their constituents (Representation), make laws (Legislation) and offer much needed checks on the Executive (Oversight).

Further, Parliament considers and approves the National Budget, without which the Government will not be able carry out its functions. In the just ended fourth session, Parliament considered and passed 25 Bills in addition to the 22 passed during the third session.

During the session that ended in May, the House passed five electoral bills: the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2019; the Political Parties and Organisations (Amendment) Bill 2019; the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2019; the Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and the Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2019 — all of which are key in guiding aspirants, candidates and managers of the electoral process and the public during the 2021 electoral season.

It is presumed that Kinobe is schooled in the law and respects it. For him to dismiss a constitutionally prescribed institution as ‘useless' begs the question as to whether Kinobe is as fully informed as he should be.

Of even more significance to Kinobe, the Parliament considered and passed the much sought after Administration of the Judiciary Bill, now an Act and was assented to by the President only recently.

This should have, if not for anything else, excited the head of the lawyers' grouping, as it provides for independence of the third arm of government and empowers the Judiciary, which he so glowingly commends in the interview.

President Kinobe's outburst, which smacks of disrespect and a lack of objectivity to a large extent, is unfortunate and looks more like playing to the gallery.

Although not many Ugandans would identify with the ULS, its president or mention its functions and value to the country, comparing the Judiciary and Legislature and concluding that the former is more important than the latter shows a poor understanding of the workings of the three arms of government.

The writer is a Senior Information Officer at Parliament.

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