Tagged: Cooperative movement Activities
31st July 2019 at 9:42 pm #62Free UgandaKeymaster
The Cooperative Societies Act was enacted in 1991. In the 1990s, the Government liberalised the economy, which led to a rapid adoption and inadequate understanding of a market-based economy. It treated cooperatives as part of the public sector, which then experienced changes in the approach of its role. Therefore, the reforms undertaken by the Government witnessed disjointed cooperative movement activities, which could not respond to the new economic dispensation and this decreased their relevance.
Wednesday, 8 May 2019
Parliament met at 2.07 p.m. in Parliament House, Kampala.
(The Deputy Speaker, Mr Jacob Oulanyah, in the Chair.)
The House was called to order.
COMMUNICATION FROM THE CHAIR
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, I welcome you to this Sitting. I wish to inform you of the passing of hon. Gerald Mutebi Mulwanira, former Minister of State for Lands, Housing and Urban Development in the Government of Uganda. He was also a Member of Parliament for Bujumba County, Kalangala District.
He has served the country in various capacities with honour. By training, he was an architect and held leadership positions in the Uganda Society of Architects. He was a member of the National Resistance Council – the then Parliament – from 1989 to 1996. He then joined the academia and was one of the pioneer lecturers at the School of Architecture in Nkozi University.
On behalf of Parliament and on my own behalf, I wish to convey my heartfelt condolences upon this great loss. We pray for God’s grace and support to the Mulwanira family during this most trying period.
Honourable members, let us rise for a moment of silence.
(Members observed a moment of silence.)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, this House will be prorogued on the day we finish with the Appropriation Bill but in any case, not later than 30th of this month because that is what the laws say. If we finish it on 25 May 2019, we will prorogue Parliament and have some recess but if we stretch it up to the end, that is the 30th May, then we will prorogue Parliament and we shall be back on 6 June 2019 for the State of the Nation Address. Therefore, we will have a very short time to be able to have a break.
However, if we work hard and finish early enough, then we might get a recess of two weeks before we start the next session of Parliament. It is really in our hands and that of the Committee on Budget to report back next week on 15 May 2019 so that we see how to debate their reports and finish with all the pending business of the budget and also wait on the Appropriation Bill.
I promise you, honourable members, that the day we finish with the Appropriation Bill shall be the day we will go on recess; so, the earlier the better for all of us. Let us work hard and see how we can do this.
I will also remind you that the House will be rising earlier to accommodate the Ramadan period when our colleagues of the Islamic faith break their fast. Let us try and accommodate them to make it convenient for them to be part of these proceedings in the House.
Today, let us finish with the Bill that has been pending now for a few days and that is the Tax Procedures Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019. It has been with us here for a few days and I am sure all the matters have now been resolved; so, let us see how to process and finish the Bill.
I have been informed by the honourable Minister of Works and Transport and the chairperson that they will not be able to proceed with the Roads Bill today; so, we will resume with it tomorrow. I hope that we will be able to finish it tomorrow because we will dedicate most of that time to deal with the Roads Bill. Today, let us use the time to finish all other matters that are on the Order Paper so that we clear the way for tomorrow for the Roads Bill. Thank you.
MR ISAAC ETUKA (NRM, Upper Madi, Arua): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise on a matter of urgent public importance related to the disaster that befell the people of Uleppi Sub County in Upper Madi County on Tuesday, 30 April 2019.
Heavy storms that hit the area left over 100 people homeless. The classroom blocks of Katiyi Primary School and Eteleva Primary School were totally de-roofed. Acres of crops were destroyed and so many domestic animals died because it was a very heavy storm. As I speak, two people who were locked in the house which fell have been hospitalised in Arua Regional Referral Hospital.
Mr Speaker, I have a report with me here by the LC III chairperson of Uleppi Sub County Local Government, which is also compiled by the parish chief of the same parish.
I pray that the Ministry of Relief and Disaster Preparedness comes to the rescue of these people to provide them with some relief aid like food, iron sheets and other things that can enable them return to a normal life.
I beg to lay on Table a report by the sub county chairperson (LC III) and also a letter I have written to the Minister for Relief and Disaster Preparedness. I beg to lay.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you.
THE FIRST DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND DEPUTY LEADER OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS (Gen. (Rtd) (Moses Ali): Mr Speaker, last time, I stood here and promised that the Government is undertaking a comprehensive survey of the impact of disasters in the country.
Yesterday, we had a meeting at the Prime Minister’s office and we went half way in a bid to correct all the problems that have affected the country. On Friday, we are meeting again to finalise with all these problems affecting the Ministries of Education and Sports, Agriculture, Health, Works and so many others.
Monday is Cabinet day; so, we shall report to Cabinet with the figures and then we shall come back on Tuesday here in this House to report. Therefore, all these problems that are being talked about will have been taken care of and Cabinet will decide what to do next. That is the position, Mr Speaker. Thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: What about the incident that has been reported to you right now?
GEN. ALI: Right now, Mr Speaker, even if I mentioned something, it would not be of use. I would rather ask the colleagues to wait that unless we leave that out, then that question will come at that time. Nevertheless, I think that we have covered almost the entire country. Thank you, Sir.
RESPONSE TO AN URGENT QUESTION OVER THE SURVEY OF LAND AND PLANTING OF MARK STONES BY STAFF FROM AMITA PRISON IN ABIM DISTRICT EXTENDING UP TO 2KM INTO AGAGO DISTRICT RAISED UNDER RULE 46 OF THE RULES OF PROCEDURE
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR INTERNAL AFFAIRS (Mr Obiga Kania): Mr Speaker, this matter was raised on Monday and Tuesday and we promised a response. It was raised by hon. Judith Franca Akello, MP for Agago. I do not know whether there is anybody to receive this response.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Did the Member for Agago delegate anybody to receive this response and ask supplementary questions? In her absence, we cannot receive this response. Thank you.
THE TAX PROCEDURES CODE (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2019
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, do you recall where we are with this matter? Did we adopt it for the second reading? Can I put the question to the second reading? Let me put the question to the motion and then we will go to the details of the Bill.
Honourable members, I put the question that the Tax Procedures Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019 be read the second time.
(Question put and agreed to.)
THE TAX PROCEDURES CODE (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2019
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: I put the question that clause 1 stand part of this Bill.
(Question put and agreed to.)
Clause 2, agreed to.
Clause 3, agreed to.
Clause 4, agreed to.
MR ODUR: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Clause 5 is proposing a 5 per cent payment to whoever provides information leading to the recovery of tax. If we unilaterally apply 5 per cent given the amount that could be recovered, I think it would be unfair.
I, therefore, had a proposal that instead of applying 5 per cent to avoid insiders within URA passing on information to their relatives and friends and then turning around to benefit from it, we could instead propose a uniform figure so that it also acts as a de-motivator for people who are working from the inside.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: You have not proposed anything.
MR JONATHAN ODUR: In that circumstance, Mr Chairman, I propose that we bring it down from 5 per cent to 1 per cent.
MR BAHATI: Mr Chairperson, the reason we are bringing it down from 10 per cent to 5 per cent is that we would like to harmonise it with the Whistle-blowers Protection Act. The Whistle-blowers Protection Act is now at 5 per cent. We, therefore, thought it should be aligned. That was the major reason and not the percentage.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Is that okay now? I now put the question that clause 5 stands part of this Bill.
(Question put and agreed to.)
Clause 5, agreed to.
Clause 6, agreed to.
Clause 7, agreed to.
The Schedule, agreed to.
The Title, agreed to.
MOTION FOR THE HOUSE TO RESUME
MR BAHATI: Mr Chairman, I beg to move that the House do resume and the Committee of the whole House reports there to.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Honourable members, the motion is for resumption of the House to enable the Committee of the Whole House report. I put the question to that motion.
(Question put and agreed to.)
(The House resumed, the Deputy Speaker presiding.)
REPORT FROM THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati): Mr Speaker, I beg to report that the Committee of the whole House has considered the Bill entitled, “The Tax Procedures Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019” and passed it without amendments.
MOTION FOR ADOPTION OF THE REPORT FROM THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati): Mr Speaker, I beg to move that the report from the Committee of the whole House be adopted.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, the motion is for adoption of the report of the Committee of the whole House. I put the question to that motion.
(Question put and agreed to.)
THE TAX PROCEDURES CODE (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2019
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati): Mr Speaker, I beg to move that the Bill entitled, “The Tax Procedures Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019” be read a third time and do pass.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, the motion is that The Tax Procedures Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019 be read for the third time and do pass. I put the question to that motion.
(Question put and agreed to.)
A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, “THE TAX PROCEDURES CODE (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2019”
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Congratulations, Chairperson for a job well done. Thank you, honourable minister.
MR BAHATI: Mr Speaker, I would like to thank you and the Members for passing this important Bill. It has protected the integrity of our Government and put confidence in the investors that we had already committed to. I am very grateful, thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: You are very welcome, honourable minister. I do this on behalf of the members of Parliament.
THE NATIONAL GRADUATE SCHEME BILL, 2018
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Where is the honourable member for Bunya East? Are we ready with this? Next item.
THE COOPERATIVE SOCIETIES (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable minister, are we ready to proceed? It is your Bill.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR TRADE, INDUSTRY AND COOPERATIVES (TRADE) (Mr Michael Kafabusa Werikhe): Mr Speaker, my chairperson is not around. I ask that you give us a few minutes.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: It is your Bill, proceed.
MR WERIKHE: Mr Speaker, I move that the Bill entitled, “The Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2016” be read for the second time.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is the motion seconded? It is seconded by the members for Pader District, Lugazi Municipality, Soroti County, Sheema District, Kampala Central and Budadiri West.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Would you like to speak to your motion?
MR WERIKHE: Mr Speaker, the Bill entitled, “The Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2016” is seeking to strengthen regulation and supervision of all types of cooperatives, improve safety and soundness of savings and credit cooperatives, enhance cooperative identity and solidarity, promote member empowerment and improve governance within cooperative societies for the sustainability of cooperative enterprises and other related matters.
Mr Speaker, the Cooperative Societies Act was enacted in 1991. In the 1990s, the Government liberalised the economy, which led to a rapid adoption and inadequate understanding of a market-based economy. It treated cooperatives as part of the public sector, which then experienced changes in the approach of its role. Therefore, the reforms undertaken by the Government witnessed disjointed cooperative movement activities, which could not respond to the new economic dispensation and this decreased their relevance.
Mr Speaker, we are bringing these amendments in order to enhance and strengthen the cooperative movement sector. I, therefore, pray that the report be presented and we move thereafter. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, the question that I propose for your debate is that the Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2016 be read the second time. That is the motion for your debate and debate starts now. Usually, we kick off debate with the report of the committee but I do not see the chairperson or a member of the committee who is ready to present the report. [Ms Khainza rose] – Would you like to give us the report?
MS KHAINZA: Mr Speaker, I am a member of the committee but we are just left with signing the report and then we upload it.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is it not yet signed?
MS KHAINZA: No.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, can we proceed without the report?
HON. MEMBERS: No.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: I was getting tempted to proceed without it. (Laughter) Since it is the property of the House, the report of the committee can guide us but this House can still debate the principles of the Bill. Debate starts now.
Honourable members, we passed the Wildlife Bill without a report. Let us proceed. Otherwise, if there is no debate, I put the question for Second Reading. Debate starts now with each Member taking three minutes. Point of procedure?
MR OKUPA: Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development has, for a number of times and until last month, been promising us that they are going to bring us a Bill for mobile money and they had given us end of April as the deadline.
Mr Speaker, now that we are waiting for a report, wouldn’t it be procedurally right for the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to tell us why he has, for the fifth time, failed? Can he tell us that he has failed in his duty and show cause why we cannot move according to some sections and Articles in the Constitution?
This is a very serious matter because Ugandans have been cheated. I saw last week in the newspapers where telecom companies increased charges on withdrawals and deposits. The people most affected are those that send small amounts of money and majority are the poor. Is the minister proceeding rightly by sitting comfortably and failing, for the fifth time, to deliver to this House? He looks very innocent while holding his cheeks.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable member, I had not invited you to devise mechanisms to try and wait for a report of the committee. I had called for a debate. Notwithstanding that, I think this matter remains outstanding and I have seen letters from the minister on the issue of this Bill.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FINANCE, PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PLANNING) (Mr David Bahati): Mr Speaker, it is true that I promised that we would bring the Bill by the end of April. We are now in May and we have not been able to do that.
Mr Speaker, we apologise but the delay is because of the systems that we are operating in as Government. For example, no Bill can be moved forward without authorisation from the Office of the Attorney-General. Actually, the First Parliamentary Counsel just finished processing the Bill. Today, we have finalised it and we are sending the Bill to Cabinet. Hopefully, we will discuss it on Monday or the following Monday but at least the Bill will come this month.
I am happy that today, it has come to our desk and we are taking it to Cabinet. The Bill did not come this April because of some procedures that are beyond my control. I would like to, therefore, request hon. Okupa and colleagues to be patient with us so that we do a good job. Otherwise, these procedures were put by this House and we have to respect them.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you.
MR NIWAGABA: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise on a point of procedure in respect to debating and participating in the second reading when there is no report –
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: The honourable chairperson is here. Can we proceed with the report? Can you kick off the debate and advise the House on how to proceed with this matter?
THE CHAIRPERSON, COMMITTEE ON TOURISM, TRADE AND INDUSTRY (MR Robert Kasule): Thank you, Mr Speaker. We finished discussions but the technical wing is putting the report together for members to sign. We have also finished running through the proposed amendments. I do not know if you can give us one hour to come back otherwise, everything has been agreed upon. Members can continue with the debate because they have the Bill.
The object of the Bill –(Interruption)
MR NIWAGABA: Mr Speaker, I would like to invite you to consider rule 129 (2) and (3) of our Rules of Procedure, read together with rule 129(3). The reading of those two rules clearly shows that a debate cannot ensue when a report has not been presented.
Therefore, is it procedurally right for us to proceed with debate when the chairperson has admittedly told this House that his report is non-existent, as of now?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: We would be debating the motion for Second Reading of this Bill. We have done that before and we will be able to proceed. However, a request has been made by the chairperson that there is a report that is about to come so we will wait for that. However, in the absence of the chairperson and a report, we will be able to proceed with this Bill without a report. After all, we have had instances where we have suspended procedures to fix Bills that have issues and we will proceed.
Honourable members, if that provision has been put there, it should be removed because it makes us – when we review the rules, that one should be removed. This House is the final authority on Bills and if a committee of the House is delaying us, the House should be able to move.
Chairperson, Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline, please look at this rule and consider removing it completely because the House cannot be tied down simply because a committee has decided not to do its work. The blame comes to the whole House. This one does not fall in that category because at least the report is about to be ready so we will wait for the report and have debate on this matter. Thank you, chairperson.
THE LANDLORD AND TENANT BILL, 2018
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Where is the chairperson? Where is the minister?
MR OKUPA: Mr Speaker, I am a member of the Committee on Physical Infrastructure. We were meant to have a meeting today to finalise the report but it did not take place because the chairperson and vice-chairperson were invited by the minister to a function in Kayunga where there is commissioning of a road. Therefore, we could not sit since a number of colleagues were not there and so, the report is not ready.
MS NAUWAT: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I do not know whether I got hon. Okupa well when he said that he is a member of the Committee on Physical Infrastructure. If that is what he said, yesterday, the chairperson, hon. Ssekitoleko, presented a report. We did not debate it but the report was presented.
Are we proceeding well to say that, that report is not ready and yet it was presented yesterday?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: What was brought yesterday was for the Roads Bill. This is the Landlord and Tenant Bill.
MS NAUWAT: That is why I was saying that I do not know whether I got hon. Okupa right.
MR OKUPA: You have not got me right.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think you did not get him right.
MR OKUPA: Mr Speaker, I can help the Member. The report, which was presented yesterday, was on the Roads Bill. What has been read is the Landlord and Tenant Bill so there is a difference between those two Bills.
MR NANDALA-MAFABI: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. In light of what hon. Okupa has raised on why the committee could not sit, some of us who had an interest in the discussions in the Committee on Tourism and Trade on the Cooperatives Bill have been invited and scheduled to meet the committee tomorrow. I am one of those who have been invited to appear before the committee at noon tomorrow because I raised a case before it.
In that regard, Mr Speaker, wouldn’t it be procedurally right that you allow some of us, who have issues, to go and present them to the Committee on Tourism and Trade? If not, at an appropriate time, could you allow us to do surgery on this Bill because it touches the lowest units in this country?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: You will be given sufficient time to debate this matter. That should not prohibit us from proceeding with this matter, if the committee report is ready.
Can we go to item 12?
MOTION FOR ADOPTION OF THE REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT ASSURANCES AND IMPLEMENTATION ON THE STATUS OF IMPLEMENTATION OF GOVERNMENT ASSURANCES IN SELECTED DISTRICTS
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, you will recall that this report was presented by the chairperson of the committee. I propose the question for your debate. The reason we did this is because some of those statements of undertakings that were made, which are contained in that report, have budgetary implications.
We thought that by adopting this and forwarding it in the process of the Budget, it could be considered and factored in to see if funds can be made available to implement some of them. That is why we brought this report forward and that is where we are. The report is factual and states which commitments have been made at what time in these selected districts and that they have not yet been implemented. Therefore, there is need for this Parliament to pronounce itself on this report so that it finds its way to the appropriate channels of this House and we see if those commitments can be accommodated. That is the essence of this report.
I do not see the chairperson here but if you would like to debate, we can debate it.
MR ELIJAH OKUPA (FDC, Kasilo County, Serere): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise to debate one item that came out in the report that affects the people of Kasilo and it is in regard to the issue that the Committee on Government Assurances talked about; one of the landing sites that the Government committed to build.
I remember it was in the Eighth Parliament when we passed a loan under the African Development Bank to build 29 modern landing sites and one of those was supposed to be at Kagwara Landing Site in Kasilo.
Unfortunately, the contractor did shoddy work. The Minister of State for Fisheries then, hon. Ruth Nankabirwa, came – She had been invited purportedly to commission it but when she saw the shoddy work, she refused to commission it and promised the people of Kasilo and Teso that they were going to take action on the contractor and that Government would provide money to make corrections and have the facility functional.
Unfortunately, despite numerous concerns from the people of Kasilo and I raising these matters in the House to the extent that I raised it one time with the Rt Hon. Prime Minister who directed the current state minister in charge of fisheries to have this provided for in the Budget to make it operational, nothing has happened to date.
It is an embarrassment to the Government that such a facility cannot be completed. It is waste of money. This is one of the places where the Bukungu-Kagwara-Kaberamaido ferry is going to be docking and indeed, the contractor came last week. We thought that possibly, the Government would use this opportunity to have these facilities worked on together but nothing is happening.
I have looked at the ministerial policy statement for the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and there is nothing provided for that. So, are we going to continue like that? I think the minister should take seriously the commitments made by Government and the directives from the Prime Minister to the ministers.
Despite all those numerous concerns I have raised in this House, the current minister has not even visited us and yet I have been reminding him in writing. We, therefore, do not know how to proceed. Maybe the First Deputy Prime Minister should help the people of Kasilo to get these facilities. I would like to invite him – I will later put this in writing – I know being an army general, he is an action oriented person. Maybe we shall be able to see something serious. Thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Prime Minister, do you want to say something on this?
THE FIRST DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND DEPUTY LEADER OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS IN PARLIAMENT (Gen. Moses Ali): Mr Speaker, to make a meaningful comment, I need the details because I have just heard this for the first time. Maybe after this meeting, I will get in touch with the honourable member so that he can brief me in order to be able to follow up. That is what I can say. Thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you.
MR FREDRICK ANGURA (NRM, Tororo South County, Tororo): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the committee for the report that was presented last week.
The committee visited Tororo but in the report presented, we did not see anything concerning Tororo and yet there are projects the district has been waiting for that have not taken off to date and one of them is the border market. With the one border system that was introduced by Uganda Revenue Authority as part of the partner states’ programme, Tororo was promised to have a border market to absorb the unemployment that has been created because of the one border stop centre that has not taken place. We are waiting.
Secondly, Mr Speaker, Tororo as a district, as far as absorption of resources that we appropriate in this budget is concerned, is in a mess. Aware that the local government of Tororo is not fully functional like how it should be in every district, we have very many challenges. I would have expected the Committee on Government Assurances to report on this; that the resources we appropriate from here are not being absorbed from the other side as expected.
For the last two years, we have not had the district’s budget approved officially as it should be. In that case, many services in the district are not running. We have many other institutions that are running in a manner that is not expected of them. For instance, the District Service Commission is not able to recruit. All aspects, as far as assurances and absorption of resources are concerned, are not doing well. All these are a result of the delay to divide Tororo District into two, which is a promise the Government undertook.
I would like to request that the committee reports on what exactly is happening in Tororo so that we can have it on record. Thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, in the public gallery this afternoon, we have a delegation of pupils and teachers from Arocha Primary School, Apac District. They are represented by hon. Patrick Ocan and hon. Betty Awor Engola. They are here to observe the proceedings. Please join me in welcoming them.
MR JONATHAN ODUR (UPC, Erute County South, Lira): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the chairperson and members of the committee for highlighting some of the key promises that Government has been making to Ugandans.
Mr Speaker, we have just handled one aspect of Government assurance that was aggressively pursued by the Minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development here, being the assurance to pay taxes. I wish that this Government invests the same vigour in pursuing some of the assurances that have been given to Ugandans. I will cite the example of the Akii Bua Stadium. It is coming to 20 years that the people of Lango were promised a stadium in memory of our own, the late John Akii Bua.
Right now, the entire Lango sub-region does not have any sports facility especially a stadium. The existing one was taken over by the Ministry of Health. Two weeks ago, we nearly had a disaster at Uganda Technical College when the Lango team was playing the Ankole team in the FUFA Drum because we lacked a stadium. As a result, the Uganda Technical School facilities were destroyed by the fans that broke through the gate to go and watch the match.
I wish that this Government puts the issue of Akii Bua Stadium as a priority because it is 20 years since it was promised. Every time an election is coming, we see people running into Lango saying, “We are now considering the design for Akii Bua Stadium”. The information I have is that Government had even gone a step ahead to approach the Chinese or Japanese Government and it was nearing a deal to construct the stadium. Up to now, though, nothing has been done.
It is my prayer that once Government makes an assurance, there should be a limitation, beyond which we either write off such an assurance or consider that Government has failed miserably on its own promises other than keeping the promises you made to the people in the book. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
THE FIRST DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND DEPUTY LEADER OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS IN PARLIAMENT (Gen. Moses Ali): Mr Speaker, I just want to say one thing on Government promises and pledges. When Government says something is going to be done, it does not give time that it will be done in two years or five years or six years. So, the Akii Bua Stadium – (Interruption)
MR OKIN: Mr Speaker, I find it very uncouth to put a senior colleague, the First Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of Government Business in Parliament, to order. In 2001, Government made an immediate assurance to construct a house in memory of the late Dr Mathew Lukwiya in Kitgum District. He was a very prominent doctor who died of Ebola and immediately, in response, the Government made that assurance.
Twelve years down the road, nothing has happened. Is the minister, therefore, in order to state that even if the Government does not normally give a time lag –
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Are you still addressing the Prime Minister?
MR OKIN: Yes, I am addressing the Prime Minister. Is the Prime Minister in order to state that Government does not have to give time duration for the fulfilment of its pledges and assurances?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, typically, an assurance cannot be that we are going to build the house in three months or in one year. It can be that a house will be constructed in memory of so and so. I have not heard it and I am sure you have not heard it either-where they say that we are going to construct a House this year.
Let us no stretch it too much; let us handle it in context but we also know that an assurance made by a particular Government should last for only five years because that is the term for which a Government is elected. If you go beyond five years then it becomes anticipation of winning an election, which might be tricky.
GEN (Rtd) MOSES ALI: Thank you, Mr Speaker, I would like to advice the committee on Government Assurances that when they get to the promises that were made but were not fulfilled, they should go to the Government ministries responsible –(Interjection)– no, you just cannot shout like that.
There is a system; you cannot just shout like that. Sit down, this is not a market place; you must have order in order to talk. Akii Bua Stadium will be completed.
Secondly, this committee definitely helps find people to follow-up on the promises but they should go to the line ministries and come and state what the ministry said. It would be better because if you wait until this is done, it may not help us. Thank you.
MR FUNGAROO: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to draw your attention to these matters of procedure because I see that the debate is getting derailed. The members of Parliament should first refer to Article 90 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, which establishes parliamentary committees. Parliamentary committees also have their Rules of Procedure on how they operate.
This particular matter of time you are talking about is catered for in our Rules of Procedure of Parliament particularly rule 176(2), which gives the committee power to determine the time within which any assurance ought to be implemented, if it is not stated outright by the maker of the promise.
In that regard in our report on page 6 under item 2.0, we have stipulated the category of promises and the judgement on basis of time, emergency assurances take six months, short time assurances take one year; that is 12 months, midterm assurances take 2.5 years that is 30 months. Long term assurances take five years – that is 60 months.
To build a house, you need maybe one financial year budget and by the time you make such a promise, you should be aware that we shall have the money to build that house for example for Dr Lukwiya. When we were in Kitgum this was one of the hottest issues; we had old people from the family of the late Dr Lukwiya –
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Procedure?
MR FUNGAROO: The procedural matter here is that is Government procedurally right to ask us to wait until it is built? I do not know for how long.
Secondly, the issue of going to the ministries; in our report, we interfaced with the ministries concerned. We invited them to our committee and some of them provided written statements as answers to the questions that we provided. What we considered as fulfilled –
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable member, instead of using the time to respond to issues raised, what is the procedural matter you are raising? You have already responded to the issues raised.
MR WILFRED NIWAGABA (Independent, Ndorwa County East, Kabale): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I thought that I would be addressing the honourable Prime Minister but I can see two of my friends around and in participating in this debate, I will be guided by rule 176(7), which allows Members to raise specific Government undertakings and assurances made in their constituencies.
Whenever it is election time in my constituency, we specifically target one area where the current President goes for his rallies and in that particular place, he has made undertakings and assurances since 1992 to date.
The first assurance he made in 1992 was to revamp the dam called Maziba Gold Station built by the colonialists, which used to supply power to the whole of Kabale District but ever since 1992 and all the times he has come to Ndorwa County East.
At least every election time, he undertakes and assures the population that it will be rehabilitated. As I speak, it has never been rehabilitated since 1992 when I was hardly a first year student at Makerere.
In the same place, he has since 1996 under taken to tarmac the old Kabale Road; those of you who know Kabale, you pass through some winding hills but we have the old Kabala Road, which is about 24 kilometres. Since 1995 he has undertaken to tarmac it, it has neither seen tarmac nor marrum.
Since 2001, he has promised to construct the bridge on that old Kabale Road which was washed away by heavy rains in 1996 and up to now, nothing has been done. Whenever we get the opportunity to remind him during his campaigns we do that and of course as usual, he promises.
During the 1990-1994 RPF-Habyarimana Government war, my people and hon. Bahati’s people generally hosted the RPF and in the process, our people lost a lot of property and some lost lives. For the last 15 years, Government has promised to compensate those who lost their property during that war and as usual, we are still waiting.
There is only one under taking that was made and whose results may come soon and that is the takeover of Buhara Secondary School as the only – it supposed to be mixed Government school in Buhara Sub-county. I am told it is in the offing but I hope the offing will also not wait eternally.
Mr Speaker, I would recommend that the committee, in its next report, should serialise each undertaking made in the respective constituencies and maybe Parliament pronounces itself on some of those that are obsolete. How do you continue promising people- literally lying to them for 10, 15 or 20 years as if they are not of any good sense?
Mr Speaker, I wanted to raise those undertakings under rule 176(7) and I hope at an appropriate time, maybe when we get a responsive Government, they will be executed.
MR FRANCIS MWIJUKYE (FDC, Buhweju County, Buhweju): Thank you, Mr Speaker. In 1989, the President promised a tarmac road to the people of Buhweju because of the role played by Buhweju between 1980 and 1985. The people of Buhweju have been religiously waiting since then but some have given up.
Some of these assurances tend to move away from assurances – I do not want to say lies because I do not want to be un-parliamentary, but it is embarrassing that people have to wait for 20 or 30 years for something that is promised and you do it year after year.
Mr Speaker, like a Member has suggested –(Interruption)
MR MULINDWA: Thank you, honourable colleague, for giving way. I have heard you say that because of the role the people of Buhweju played – I would like you to clarify on that particular role that the people of Buhweju have played in this country that other people in the country have not done. Thank you.
MR MWIJUKYE: Thank you, honourable. Of course Buhweju was a training ground for the NRA soldiers. Secondly, they have been paying taxes and they used to vote 100 per cent until recently.
Therefore, can we know when some of these assurances are going to be effected because sometimes we have no answers as people’s representatives. You promised in 1989, 1996, 2001, the same road came back in 2016 and you are a Member of Parliament and you have to explain.
Mr Speaker, I request that the person acting as the Leader of Government Business today assures the people of Buhweju that that promise is going to become a real assurance and not just a campaign slogan or it was not just electioneering so that we know that there is somebody out there who cares for the people of Buhweju, not just because of the role they played then but what we still play now by paying taxes year after year. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
MR ISAAC MULINDWA (NRM, Lugazi Municipality, Buikwe): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the Government Assurances Committee for their report, only that they did not capture Buikwe and specifically Lugazi Municipality.
Government had pledged to renovate and re-equip Kawolo Hospital in 2008. I would like to report to this House that by the end of April this year, the hospital was completely renovated and well equipped. However, what has not been done is fencing around the hospital. We are hopeful that it is coming.
I would like the committee to capture it in the report that the fence is still pending in Kawolo Hospital. I heard hon. Zaake report that in Mityana Hospital, equipment was being stolen because there is no fence. We are concerned that we need to put a fence along Kawolo Hospital to protect what has been put in place. On that note, I thank the Government and the entire Cabinet for fulfilling their pledge. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
MR RICHARD GAFABUSA (NRM, Bwamba County, Bundibugyo): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I take the opportunity to thank the committee although they did not cover Bundibugyo.
I have issues with the committee because on page 6, there is one sentence that they did not complete on the districts they selected from Rwenzori sub region. While in other regions like Sebei, there are three districts and they went to two, in Rwenzori we have eight districts but went to only one – I have issues with that kind of selection.
Nevertheless, Mr Speaker, in Bundibugyo we have a very long list of Government assurances that we are still waiting for. I also do not buy the idea that you wait until it is done because this Government is only there for five years – (Interjection) – yes, we only renew. The next one is a different Government even if they are the same people.
Mr Speaker, one of the commitments to Bundibugyo is that for more than 10 years now, Government committed to construct a border market at Busunga Border Post at the border with Congo. We have seen these markets being constructed elsewhere apart from Bundibugyo and the people of Bundibugyo are waiting. This border is increasingly getting busy and you know, we get so many things from Congo. Therefore, we would like to have that border market.
In 2016, the President wrote and instructed the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives to budget for construction and establishment of a cocoa processing plant. Mr Speaker, the people of Bundibugyo grow cocoa and it is now on record that Bundibugyo has the best quality cocoa in the world because it is purely organic.
The farmers are being cheated because we are exporting our cocoa in its raw form. I have a copy of that presidential directive to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives copied to the Prime Minister. I have raised that matter here since 2016. The President had directed that the project be budgeted for in Financial Year 2017/2018 but to date, nothing has happened.
There is a Government commitment to construct a very long bridge that connects lower Bundibugyo to the mountainous Bundibugyo; that is the bridge on River Nyahuka. It connects Nyahuka Town Council to Mirambi Subcounty. That commitment has been there for over 15 years and movement from upper to lower Bundibugyo is disadvantaged by the absence of that bridge because the river is very big. Even when the district tries to work on the road so that vehicles can pass, after a short time, it becomes impassable because it is very deep. The bridge is over 200 metres long.
There are also commitments that Government made to Bundibugyo Energy Cooperative Society, which are in writing. We have followed them up with the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives but nothing seems to be coming on ground.
Mr Speaker, we have the youngest cultural institution in this country called “Obudingya bwa Bwamba”. Government has made commitments, including support to this cultural institution – the palace.
The most recent one, which this Parliament is aware of, was immediately after the 2016 elections. We had a lot of clashes and many people were killed in Bundibugyo. Government, through the Office of the Prime Minister, came and did an assessment and made a commitment to help people rebuild their houses, which were burnt and destroyed. Over 400 families had their houses destroyed. Out of the 20,000 iron sheets, the Office of the Prime Minister delivered only 5,000.
I have raised this matter on this Floor and said, as leaders of the district, we have failed to distribute these 5,000 iron sheets – which household do you give and which one do you leave out yet all their houses were burnt down? The Office of the Prime Minister has remained silent. We see iron sheets being distributed to other areas where there has not been any problem. There are so many other issues.
In terms of fulfilling Government commitments and pledges, we have talked and we continue to talk. As for the issue of following up on them, we have done so, as elected leaders but we have not got any response. Therefore, we will continue talking but mind you, these commitments are for this Government, which is five years. The next will be a different Government, even if they are the same people. We are the same people but we shall form a different Government. This one is for five years. I thank you very much.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, can I guide a bit? You need to look at the rules again and see how we are proceeding with these matters. Look at rule 176. The assurances we are talking about or promises and undertakings must be given by any minister, Prime Minister, President and Vice President in the House.
There is an avenue for bringing assurances that were made in constituencies under rule 176(7) of our Rules of Procedure. You see, that one does not help. By you reporting it, does it become an assurance made by the President on the Floor of Parliament? What that was supposed to do was to bring in this so that when you bring it in and it is raised, the minister can confirm that yes, that assurance was made and then it becomes an assurance made on the Floor.
However, if the statement was made in Bwamba and has not been confirmed by a minister on the Floor of Parliament, it is not an assurance, according to our Rules of Procedure. This is because that would be very difficult to process. I am sure honourable members have had these situations where you have received letters stating that you promised to do something when on that date you were not even anywhere near that place.
When they use that procedure, they make you make promises that you have never even made. How do we manage these processes? That is why the rules make these provisions. We need to see how to do this properly because the rules still leave grey areas. I think we need to improve on it a bit such that it can capture the spirit of what we need to achieve – I have just been guiding on procedure and I hope you were listening.
Honourable members, in the gallery this afternoon, we have the Child Life Network from Makindye. They are represented here by hon. Ibrahim Kasozi and hon. Nabilah Sempala. They are here to observe the proceedings; please, join me in welcoming them. Leader of the Opposition, do you have a matter? Are you debating or -?
THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION (Ms Betty Aol): I have a matter on Government assurances. It is a procedural issue but I would also like to seek clarification. The Committee on Government Assurances has been a very difficult committee; at least I was a member of that committee in the Eighth Parliament.
Therefore, for the Committee on Government Assurances to get what to discuss, it has to come from the House but it is us, members of Parliament, to come and ask the ministers. I believe the chairperson captured promises that were brought to Parliament and the ministers confirmed them.
When we, members of Parliament, want assurance on something that had been promised in our constituencies and districts, we have to bring it to the Floor of Parliament and let the ministers respond. Then the committee can capture and it becomes a Government –
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: You had risen on a procedural point and now you are receiving information?
MS BETTY AOL: Mr Speaker, I am very sure that this committee, which is an accountability committee, has captured most of this. Nevertheless, we also encourage members of Parliament – because we have a lot of promises made by other ministers or the President. If they are made by ministers, it is by the delegation of the President.
Therefore, let us bring these assurances here to be captured by the Committee on Government Assurances, for which promises I also have from Gulu. This is the clarification I would like to make. Where promises are made, we should bring them here.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, that is exactly what we are talking about. What the committee has reported on are those assurances that have been made to this House. These assurances are not made to Oulanyah or anybody else; they are made to Parliament and that is what constitutes an assurance. The assurance is to Parliament.
If it is made in the constituency, the way to have it confirmed so that it becomes an assurance to Parliament is to raise it here so that it is confirmed by the ministers here and they promise to undertake to do it. Then it becomes an assurance to the House, which now falls within the committee’s docket to pursue. They are not just any other promises that were made in the course of some debates –
MR TUMURAMYE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The procedural matter I would like to raise concerns Government assurances. First of all, this important matter concerns all of us.
Last year, I raised it here on the Floor of Parliament that the road that was pledged by the President since 2010 – which is Rubumba-Kaswah Junction (33 kilometres). I have been chasing this road from the finance ministry, from UNRA, even up to here.
The Minister of State for Works and Transport, Gen. Katumba Wamala made an assurance on the Floor of Parliament about that road. It was pledged, the field studies were made and all the designs were carried out in 2015 but up to now, it has never been worked on. This road has been prioritised all the time.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is the procedural issue you are raising?
MR TUMURAMYE: The procedural matter I am raising is whether those assurances that were made by the minister, confirming the pledge made by the President, should be captured and we sort them out.
As you mentioned yesterday, priorities should never be unfunded. That road has never been funded yet it has been among the priorities of Government. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, I thought that is exactly what I was telling you about the procedure? Now the procedure is clear. Let us debate.
MS BETTY NAMBOOZE (FDC, Woman Representative, Mukono): Thank you, Mr Speaker. This House annually gives the President funds to donate as he wishes. We have seen that on a number of occasions, the President has exceeded in amount the money we give him as he gives pledges to the people especially during election time.
I think it is time for Parliament to develop mechanisms to detect lies by politicians from government assurances. If the President, for example, makes a pledge to a certain community, he has the opportunity to channel that pledge through the Budget. When he doesn’t and it requires a Member of Parliament to come from the constituency to this House – I think this was the very thing our rule 176 wanted to cure; that these should be pledges made here in the House. However, if I have to remind the President of a pledge he made in Mukono when he has an opportunity to channel that pledge through the budget – I think we are trying to stretch ourselves and at one time we shall find that these pledges are far bigger than what our budget can accommodate.
What I would like to ask, Mr Speaker, is how we can tame the President’s appetite to go out making pledges here and there. In 2013, for example, the total amount which we needed to clear the pledges by His Excellency the President was Shs 12.9 trillion. I do not know what that amount is today.
This does not include pledges which cannot be quantified into money. Pledges like, “I will give you a district, I will give you a town council, I will give you a free and fair election, I will give you security” because such pledges cannot be quantified. I think it is high time we limit the President on how many promises he can give out.
I would also like to inform this House that on 04 February 2016, during his campaigns, Mr Museveni was in my constituency. He told the people of Mukono, “Don’t believe in these Nambooze’s, they do not have the money. Believe in me. The granary is full. We now have money. Just return me to power; I will do this and the other”. He even told them that the money was available. Why is it that these promises are not fulfilled now?
I am now worried that this Parliament is trying to entertain campaign promises, some of which are outright lies by politicians. Let us leave them to go back and face the people they promised empty air.
The President should have a limit of making pledges so that we concentrate on pledges that come into this House through the ministers. Otherwise, if we are to go out there and look for pledges by Mr Museveni, we shall have to mortgage this country because he does not have a limit and he goes on making promises. In most cases, this is just election talk –(Interruption)
MR SSEWUNGU: Actually, the information I would like to give you is that just last Sunday, he promised the Orthodox Church Shs 400 million and gave them Shs 30 million. Imagine offering only Shs 30 million on a promise of Shs 400 million!
MR WERIKHE: Mr Speaker, I have listened to my brother stating that the President gave Shs 30 million, which is true. However, he did not say that this is the amount I am giving and that is the end. He said that out of the Shs 400 million, Shs 30 million was the amount that he could give there and then. Is the Member in order to state that the President promised Shs 400 million and he never gave it because part of it was given?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, if the President pledged to contribute Shs 400 million and gave Shs 30 million with a balance of Shs 370 million, would that be a pledge unfulfilled? If I say that I am going to give you Shs 10 million but right now I have only Shs 2 million and the rest will come, would that be a pledge that is not made properly?
MS NAMBOOZE: Mr Speaker, as I wind up, Mr Museveni goes to church and wants to donate Shs 400 million to God. He gives them Shs 30 million and the 370 becomes a Government assurance; when will he ever donate to God himself? How does that become a government responsibility? The man is donating to his God out of faith. We should be able to differentiate Ggovernment assurances from personal pledges by Mr Museveni because he is also required to donate to God as a person. Not everything should be pinned on our Government.
Lastly, Mr Speaker, what about those pledges which cannot be quantified? Some years back, during an interview with NTV, the President made an assurance that he will leave power as soon as he attains 75 years. How do we follow up on such an assurance? (Laughter) These are things we should demand of Mr Museveni; that when you make a commitment publically, you are His Excellency, the fountain of honour, you must follow it up.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, I have already guided on this. An assurance, is that assurance that is made to this House. If somebody goes and makes a pledge to a church, is that an assurance within our rules? It is not. Can we be relevant to this debate? The rules are clear about what we should do with this. I was just allowing us to engage a little so that we can – it looks like we are not taking advantage of the time I have given because the rules clearly say that the classifications of assurances that have been made would be submitted from the report and distributed to sectoral committees and thereafter, the sectoral committees will be able to process this in the course of doing the budget to see which one can be factored in.
However, the sum total of the report has two ways of coming to Parliament; either under rule 217 regarding Action taken on what has been stated in the House or through Treasury Memoranda when they compile responses to undertakings that have been made by Government. That is how it is processed.
Given that the debate is not touching on what they should be focusing on, I will pause it here; we will adopt this report and then forward it to the different sectors and Government so that they can extract what they can implement and report what they cannot implement. I will now put the question for adoption of this report.
Honourable members, I now put the question that the report of the Committee on Government Assurances and Implementation on the status of implementation of government assurances in selected districts be adopted.
(Question put and agreed to.)
MOTION FOR ADOPTION OF THE REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS (COMMISSIONS, STATUTORY AUTHORITIES AND STATE ENTERPRISES) ON THE AUDITED PUBLIC ACCOUNTS OF SELECTED STATUTORY CORPORATIONS FOR THE FINANCIAL YEARS 2013/2014 TO 2015/2016
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am advised that there is a motion that is ready. It is item 24. Hon. Asamo, are you ready with this motion?
MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT URGING GOVERNMENT TO RECOGNISE AND PROTECT THE UNIQUE LANGUAGES, CULTURE AND CUSTOMS OF MINORITY COMMUNITIES IN UGANDA
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: I thought it was going to be presented by two Members. (Laughter)
MS HELLEN ASAMO (NRM, PWDs, Eastern): Thank you, Mr Speaker. That was solidarity from Teso. He was just giving me a push.
Mr Speaker, the motion for a resolution of Parliament urging Government to recognise and protect unique languages, culture and customs of minority communities in Uganda is moved under Articles 79 and 94 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and rule 120 of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament.
“WHEREAS Article 36 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 protects the rights of minorities and guarantees their right to participate in decision making processes and requires their views and interests to be taken into account in the making of national plans and programmes;
AND WHEREAS the 2014 National Population and Housing Census put the population at 34.6 million people;
AWARE THAT Uganda is home to a large number of diverse ethnic and linguistic communities, some of whom are listed in the Third Schedule to the Constitution;
FURTHER AWARE THAT of the ethnic groups in Uganda, the Baganda are the majority, accounting for 16.5 per cent of the total population, the Banyankole account for 9.60 per cent of the total population, the Basoga account for 8.8 per cent of the total population, the Bakiga account for 7.l per cent of the total population, the Iteso account for 7.0 per cent of the total population, the Langi account for 6.3 per cent of the total population, the Bagisu account for 4.9 per cent of the total population, the Acholi account for 4.4 per cent of the total population and the Lugbara account for 3.3 per cent of the total population;
NOTING that Uganda has a number of ethnic minority communities who are scattered across the country such as the Alur, Ik, Kakwa, Karamojong cluster, Lugbara, Luluba, Madi, Nubian, Bagungu, Bakenyi, Bavuma, Soo, Abayanda, Batwa, Ba’amba, Bakonzo, Benet, Bakyingwe, Bagabo and the Maragoli;
FURTHER NOTING that these minority groups suffer from negative perceptions of their ways of life, traditional livelihoods, occupations and land use leading to the loss of their identity, language, cultures and customs as well as subjugation by their more dominant neighbours;
CONCERNED that the indigenous communities in Uganda continue to experience challenges in their existence including the lack of security in land tenure, marginalisation in terms of political representation, exclusion from Government programmes, human rights violations including forced evictions from their ancestral lands, violence, intimidation and destruction of their property and historical injustices, such as the demarcation of national boundaries as well as the creation of national parks and game reserves during the colonial period;
COGNISANT that unless remedial measures are undertaken to address the challenges and historical injustices suffered by the minority communities in Uganda, the existing minority communities will lose their unique culture, language and identity resulting in their extinction.
NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Parliament that Government:
Clearly defines and recognises ethnic minorities in the country and puts in place specific laws and guidelines for the protection of ethnic minorities.
Recognises and protects the unique languages, cultures and customs of minority communities in Uganda.
Addresses historical injustices suffered by ethnic minorities in Uganda and ensure their right to access and occupy their historical sites, especially those located in protected areas is recognised and protected.
Takes urgent steps to promote the peaceful co-existence and eradicate the discrimination and persecution of ethnic minorities.
Develops inclusive and intercultural educational curricula, which ensure that all ethnic minorities have an understanding of their multicultural society.
Adopts policies that promote and develop the cultural heritage and distinctive cultural practices of ethnic minorities.
Ratifies the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, 1989.”
Mr Speaker, I beg to move.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is the motion seconded? It is seconded by Members for Bukooli Islands, Abim District, Otuke District, Kalaki County, Tororo, Soroti, PWD Western, Obongi, Moyo and Koboko.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Would you like to speak to your motion?
MS ASAMO: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The motion is for a resolution of Parliament urging Government to recognise and protect the unique languages, culture and customs of minority communities in Uganda. When you look at Kanungu and Bundibugyo, where you get the Batwa people, they are not in any representative role in the local government. You can imagine having only two of them going to school. I think we have one Ik in this Parliament and one other who has qualified. They are countable among the people who have gone to school. The other majority tribes try to push them on.
The challenge these people have when they are moved from, for example the forest, is that they are used to gathering fruits and food from the forests. Unfortunately, when they are moved down, they are not used to agriculture and Government has not allocated any land. I can give an example of the Ndorobo in Bukwo. We have the Batwa from the western side and other indigenous groups, which have challenges.
Their languages, which are an important area of communication, are getting lost so some of them are forced to speak a language which is not originally theirs. Therefore, the motion seeks to see how we can curb that kind of practice and keep these languages as the original languages, for purposes of being part of Ugandans.
Some of these minority groups are reducing in number every day because of diseases. They are not accepted in hospitals because of their minority status. In this situation, we gave an example of the Batwa who told us that people, especially the men, think that when they sleep with a woman who is a Mutwa, they are cured of HIV/AIDS. In the process, they have spread HIV/AIDS to this category of people, who were ignorant about such a life but because somebody can buy something little and give to them.
We have people in Eastern Uganda – the Benet – who are in that group and were also around the forests. However, when the parks were gazetted, they were not catered for. Remember they are poor people and cannot even hire land so their situation of accessing food is a big challenge. Their children are unable to go to school because of the poverty levels and these social services are not in those areas where they have been relocated.
We have so many tribes, Mr Speaker, and I would like to think that in this Parliament, we have some minorities. Some people did not know that they are minorities but they are here. Maybe, they will add their voices to the motion and be able to give the details.
I have a whole document here, which I beg to lay because there is a motion coming from a group of the Bakenyi. You recall that the Bakenyi used to stay along the lakes but were displaced. You will get a Mukenyi speaking Luganda, Lusoga or Ateso when actually he is supposed to be a Mukenyi; so, his original language is also lost. I think we need to recognise them as Ugandans and since the Constitution recognises them, they should be given their rights as per that group of people.
I would like to beg that I lay this document on the Table. Thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Let the records capture that. Is there a seconder of the motion?
MS ASAMO: Mr Speaker, the seconder was hon. Kumama who is also from a minority tribe but since there is a function in Kayunga, he sent me a message that he will not be here. However, we have many other Members. We have a Member from Bundibugyo and another from Acholi who told me there is a tribe in that place which we did not know. I think the minority groups are becoming too many within the regions.
Therefore, there are many Members who support the motion.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Can I have one Member to second the motion and is prepared to do the secondment speech?
MS JANET OKORI-MOE (NRM, Woman Representative, Abim): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the mover of the motion for this motion, urging Government to recognise and protect the unique languages, culture and customs of minority communities in Uganda.
Majority of these minority tribes live in Karamoja. They are also recognised by the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. I am also one of them. I speak a language which is close to the Acholi but I am not an Acholi. I also speak a language close to the Langi but I am not a Langi. I speak a language close to the Japadhola but I am not a Japadhola. I speak a language close to Alur but I am not an Alur. I speak a language close to the people of Kaberamaido but I am not a Kumam.
When you see the way these small tribes live, they are sometimes ignored as if they have nothing to offer. I know that even when you visit some of the learning institutions in Uganda, some of these minority tribes that are ignored including the ones who come from Abim, are brilliant. I can give you an example.
One time, we had our four choppers going to Garissa. Three of them did not reach their destination. However, the one which reached its destination was flown by a person from a minority tribe in Abim District but when it comes to allocation of the national cake, they are ignored.
In Abim, we have cried for positions like Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) – I think I was the only one appointed – but we do not get appointed simply because we are few. I remember when the NRM came into power, we were 50,000 people but because of the peace ushered in and the good environment, we are now nearing 200,000. (Applause) Mr Speaker, these are small minority tribes which should be reckoned with.
The mover of the motion talked about the Ik having only two graduates. Some of those tribes do not even have A-level leavers. Some of them are the Mening found in Dodoth West, Nyagia, Napore and other tribes.
I would like to stand firm and support this motion that these very important tribes should be recognised by Government. Even now when you go to thematic education among the Ik, the language that is taught to primary one and primary two pupils is not a language understood by the Ik. They are in a way also marginalised because there are no teachers trained in those languages and many other tribes in our country.
We need to move together as a team of Ugandans. I beg to support the motion. Thank you very much.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, the motion that I now propose for your debate is for a resolution of Parliament, urging Government to recognise and protect the unique languages, culture and customs of minority communities in Uganda. That is the motion for your debate and debate will start now, each Member taking two minutes. Let us use two minutes for the Members who would like to debate and we will start from Padyere.
MR JOSHUA ANYWARACH (Independent, Padyere County, Nebbi): Thank you, Mr Speaker and I would like to thank hon. Asamo for bringing this motion. I am an Alur and I wish we would amend the motion to also include the Lendu and the Okebo.
Mr Speaker, the question of indigeneity must not only be considered for the minority. Even now, this motion should be amended to include that under the Registration Act that we passed – remember the requirement of you, as an indigenous, has been removed but it still remains in our Constitution under citizenship; how you become a citizen of Uganda by descent? It was removed. Hon. Nandala-Mafabi put up a very serious argument at that time with the late hon. Aronda but it was just glossed over. The question of the rights you enjoy as an indigenous is an international recognition.
Finally, the recognition of these indigenous minorities is going to help us. Actually, we were in UNESCO two years ago and they said that all countries with indigenous minorities should pass a resolution, list them and pass the list to them. There are benefits in terms of projects, recognition and awards that they are actually giving to these minority groups.
I would like to thank this House that today, we are going to pronounce ourselves on Government not only recognising the indigenous people, their language and other things but also protect them. If anything, Government should make affirmative action deliberately for these minority groups to also –(Member timed out.)
MS JACKLET ATUHAIRE (Independent, Woman Representative, Sheema): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I also stand to support the motion because it is very timely. However, when I did not hear my indigenous community mentioned, I felt further marginalised in the report. I am a Musongora and I think in the Constitution, the Basongora are number 31. Somebody mentioned brilliance; we are very brilliant people.
The Basongora come from Kasese although my forefathers migrated from Kasese to Sheema. We are not represented in this Parliament – (Interjections) – however, hon. Asamo talked about languages. The Basongora are now confusing – actually, some people call us the Batooro or other names because our culture and language have disappeared.
Therefore, I support this motion and I pray that this House also supports it so that the indigenous people are also thought about. Thank you.
MR GEORGE OUMA (NRM, Bukooli Island County, Namayingo): Mr Speaker, I stand to second the motion. I come from Kigulu Island and the reason I am supporting this motion is that by 1971, Kigulu Island had lost over 100 people. I do not want to go into the history of that time. When you read Gideon Were’s book, Kigulu Island during the Seventeenth Century was a place affected by sleeping sickness and therefore, most of these people ran to Kenya when the place was under quarantine.
Now, in 1956, the Kenyan authorities chased away all the people who came from Uganda and had settled in Kenya. There was a white man called Wycliffe who was in Jinja. He arrested these people when they came back to resettle in a place that had been quarantined. They acquired the Kenyan language and that is why when the President goes to my area, he uses Kiswahili.
Now, even during registration, they say if you cannot speak Luganda, then automatically you are not going to acquire the identity card of Uganda. It is a very serious issue. I will, therefore, bring an amendment to the motion to include the minority tribe of Kigulu – the Bakigulu. It is a serious issue that needs the attention of this Parliament.
Mr Speaker, even during this operation, –(Member timed out.)
MR JAMES ACIDRI (NRM, Maracha East County, Maracha): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the mover of this motion. I would also like to honestly express my view that I do not know what problem this motion is going to cure. The reason is that when we talk about marginalisation of minority groups, the most immediate thing is resource allocation; the question of equity and jobs.
We know that Government has put in place deliberate programmes to empower marginalised communities. Some of these have not worked. There are ministries for Luweero, Bunyoro, Northern Uganda, Karamoja and Teso but if we honestly evaluate the programmes to find out whether they achieved the target of addressing the needs of their intended beneficiaries, you will realise that they are not effective.
Therefore, in my opinion, Mr Speaker, instead of talking about marginalised minorities – this brings stigma; you end up being stigmatised for nothing. I have had an experience of this in Namibia where the Sans who were traditionally hunters and gatherers feel marginalised due to the natural trend of development. They cannot carry out their traditional livelihood activities and they are being forced to adjust to the reality of development –(Member timed out.)
MS OKETAYOT LOWILA (NRM, Woman Representative, Pader): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the mover of the motion, hon. Asamo and the seconder, hon. Janet Okori-Moe. The issue of protecting cultures addressed in this motion is very important and I feel it should not only be limited to the minority groups.
Mr Speaker, one day, I went for visitation to one of the schools and the pupils came to perform to the visitors. A teacher came and announced that a group was coming to perform the Larakaraka Dance, my traditional dance but I really got annoyed when this group started performing because it was not any close to our beautiful courtship dance.
I think it is important that we put in place ways of how we can protect cultures. I think if this teacher did not have the Larakaraka skills, he could have looked for someone who knows the dance to train the pupils so that they dance the true Larakaraka dance. I –(Member timed out.)
MS JOSEPHINE BEBONA (NRM, Woman Representative, Bundibugyo): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the honourable colleague for moving this motion. It is true some of these minority groups are marginalised and stigmatised at the same time. In my district Bundibugyo, we have the Batwa. In the past when I was still growing up they used to stay in the forest but now they live in a camp and very few go to school.
Recently a catholic based organisation at Bugamba Parish in my district organised a few and they are attending some classes at primary level. However, we do not know whether they will even reach secondary level because Government has not come in to support the school. Sometimes they do not want to mix with others so they need schools; even accessing health services is a problem.
I remember when I was still practising before I joined Parliament, we used to be forced to go to their camps to conduct antenatal and immunisation services because they really need these services but they do not have the information, they just live in their own world.
In my place, they are used as tourists attractions and are deceived with small monies and gifts for the tourists to see them living in a community and yet they need other services like –(Member timed out)
MR LAWRENCE MANGUSHO (NRM, Kween County, Kween): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I thank the mover of the motion. It is very timely to this House. I represent the people of Kween where you find the group called the Bennet-Ndorobo.
Most of them lived in the mountains as indigenous people but these people are marginalised – even from the report of the Committee on Government Assurances. Over the last four decades, Government has failed to address the issue of resettling them after Government took over the forest as a national park, which is their indigenous home area.
They lived there before the forest; they were there before the national park but this Government still marginalises these people. Various committees of this House have visited them and they appreciate that these people are living in a very dire situation.
Sometimes when it comes to campaigns, you find running battles between police and politicians who want to visit these people because they will find the situation so pathetic. It is very timely that this House recognises these people and Government addresses the issue of inequality, a very key issue in our Constitution, which does not encourage marginalisation.
Some of the people from these communities have contributed a lot to this country. The gold medallists and runners that you see –(Member timed out.)
MR CLEMENT OBOTE (NRM, Kalaki County, Kaberamaido): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me this opportunity. I would like to second this motion and to thank the mover for bringing this timely motion. I am called Obote, I am a Kumam and everybody who interacts with me thinks I am a Langi because of my name.
The Kumams whom I represent in this House are a tribe of people whom everybody would like to pretend does not exist; that is why we are in Teso and yet we do not speak Ateso. Everybody thinks that I should be in Lango but the Langi do not want me either. I believe that this is a very important motion and Government should take cognisance of the fact that there is a tribe called the Kumam. They number between 200,000 and 300,000 and at the moment, when you lump the Kumams in Teso sub-region, their representation is lost.
If you listened to meetings taking place in Teso, the districts will be listed and then at the last minute, somebody will say, “and of course Kaberamaido.” Mr Speaker, I urge the Government to take this motion as very important and prioritise the inclusion of these minorities in Government programmes rather than lumping them in regions where they do not belong.
Just a moment ago when hon. Okorimoe said that she speaks some language also from the Kumam people in Kaberamaido, a colleague from behind me said; “I thought that it was the Iteso in Kaberamaido not the Kumams.” You can see the problem that the Kumam people face –(Member timed out.)
MR HOOD KATURAMU (Independent, PWD, Western): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity, I wish to join my colleagues to thank the mover and seconder of this motion. Any law or policy that discriminates any sector of its society is a bad law or policy. In that spirit I support this motion.
Recently, the Government of Australia came out to make interventions to recognise the indigenous people – the Aborigines that were the founders of Australia. They had been marginalised, discriminated and stigmatised for years but the Government of Australia is putting in place mechanisms of how they can be recognised and in some instances compensated for the marginalisation and stigma that had been caused on them yet they were founders of Australia.
Therefore, better late than never; if we have in Uganda some of our fellow Ugandans that had been marginalised for years, I think this motion is going to address and arrest the situation.
I wish, in the same vein, to thank the framers of the 1995 Constitution for the flexibility they put in to address such upcoming issues that were not anticipated at that time. Our Constitution is flexible and that is why we can now come in to recognise and address -(Member timed out.)
MR KENNETH EITUNGANANE (Independent, Soroti County, Soroti): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank hon. Asamo for moving this motion in a very timely and organised way.
The beauty about our country Uganda, the pearl of Africa is the uniqueness, the diversity and the various ethnicities that exist. When you move across the country, you begin to appreciate the various tribes that exist.
Particularly on the motion, as a committee, we visited the Batwa. It is very disturbing; this is a group of people who are only being used during campaigns – because our concern was, do these people vote?
Some of the politicians who sit in this House use them during campaigns but they are not concerned about uplifting the welfare and status of these people. We were surprised that if you went on a campaign trail and offered them local brew called Malwa they will all vote for you and that is what all these politicians were doing.
The situation is appalling and yet Government is doing nothing; it is only some NGOs and churches that are trying to help them. They were chased away from the forest and they were not given options – (Member timed out.)
MR ASUMAN BASALIRWA (JEEMA, Bugiri Municipality, Bugiri): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I join my colleagues in supporting this motion.
Mr Speaker, whereas our Constitution makes provision for minorities, up to now, we do not have a very clear legal and institutional framework to describe who minorities are and what their rights should be. Therefore, we hope that through this motion, perhaps both Parliament and Government will think very critically in coming up with an appropriate legal and institutional framework.
Mr Speaker, in discussing the issues of minorities, I think our Constitution was very broad. I think there is a tendency to think that minorities can only be limited to ethnic and linguistic aspects. However, both the local and international frameworks regard minorities very broadly. They even go to aspects of religious minorities. That is why in discussing this motion, we must also be cognisant of our obligations under international law.
There are many international instruments that deal with minorities and the sooner we domesticated those international obligations, the better because it would be one of the ways of addressing the rights and duties of these minorities wherever they are.
When we describe minorities, I think we will avoid issues of people thinking that if you are, for example few or if you are not mentioned, then you are a minority. I think the tendency to think in that perspective will eventually make everybody minority. Therefore, I think this motion in one way or the other will help us in addressing and understanding that minorities are –(Member timed out.)
MR RICHARD GAFABUSA (NRM, Bwamba County, Bundibugyo): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I also rise to support this motion and thank the mover and the seconder –(Interjection)– the Minister is asking whether I am a minority? Yes. I belong to one of the minority tribes in this country. I am a Mubwisi and therefore, I would like to suggest an amendment to include the Babwisi on this list of minority groups. In the list of tribes in the Constitution, it is No. 5. We also have the Vonoma in Bundibugyo and on the list of tribes in the Constitution, they are No. 65.
Indeed, looking at urging Government to promote our culture, languages and customs, so many things have been lost. Mr Speaker, there is a tendency to lumped mainly the minorities together. When I say I come from Bundibugyo, many people here think I am Mukonzo or Mwamba but they will not look at the real small indigenous communities.
I did not know that I belong to these minority ethnic groups until last year when I looked at the classification by the Equal Opportunities Commission. That is when I discovered that my tribe is one of the minorities in this country. According to them, any –(Member timed out.)
MS ROSE AYAKA (NRM, Woman Representative, Maracha): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the mover of the motion because it is a very important step towards the recognition of the underprivileged members of the society that we live in.
Mr Speaker, I would like to equally say that for a long time, these marginalised groups have actually been suffering when it comes to service delivery. When you look at the implementation of Government projects, you will find that in most cases, there are some translations that are done for the benefit of the locals. In most cases, you find translations done in the Bantu, Luo and Teso languages. However, these marginalised groups have more often been left behind. They lack information in very specific areas of service delivery; for example, in health, education and other sectors. Therefore, when it comes to access to information, it is usually a nightmare for them.
I would like to thank the mover because there must be policies put in place to recognise that these are indigenous people who deserve to receive service from Government. I am, therefore, in support of the motion.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you.
MS JOVAH KAMATEEKA (NRM, Woman Representative, Mitooma): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the mover of the motion. Certainly, it is very important that we do promote the various cultures that we have, for example, our beautiful dances and the way we prepare our traditional foods is in danger of being extinct.
However, when it comes to recognition of the so many minority groups – for me, first, the fact that they are mentioned in the Constitution means that they are recognised. However, to now say that we focus on them, I think we run the danger of dividing ourselves more yet we should be looking for more ways that unite us as Ugandans.
We should also be looking for ways of becoming more patriotic as Ugandans rather than focusing on the small nationalities. That is my opinion, thinking and belief. I think that we should be looking for ways – if for example you look for a country like Tanzania our neighbours, a Tanzanian is a Tanzanian first and foremost before they think of their tribes and the same applies to Kenya.
Therefore, Mr Speaker, we should be looking for more ways of uniting us – yes, we should make sure that every Ugandan accesses services and that the services are equitably distributed –(Member timed out.)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, points of order are not means of suppressing opinion. Please, you have spoken, listen to others.
MR FREDRICK ANGURA (NRM, Tororo South County, Tororo): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am privileged to be an Itesot and as per the population, we are doing very well. However, I am an Itesot of Tororo and in Tororo, we have a challenge of culture and language. Therefore, we are a civilised, marginalised group there.
Mr Speaker, the Itesot of Tororo had to eat a rat in 1947 to distinguish themselves from the Japadhola and that marginalisation did not ended with that. It has continued up to now. Very recently, books were printed in one language and distributed to the Itesot community – they seemed to create an interest of suffocating the culture, language and even denying certain opportunities and services that have come with the boat that is not balanced.
Therefore, Mr Speaker, I really want to thank the movers of this motion –(Interruption)
MS NYAKECHO: Thank you, my brother, for giving way. I rise to inform this august House that indeed, the issue of minority tribes and groups in this country is very real. Has any of you ever wondered why me, standing here – I am called Nyakecho and yet I am an Itesot – it is because of marginalisation.
A certain tribe tried to extinguish or to make sure that another small ethnic group that existed within their midst is not there or does not exist at all. If you have followed what my brother was trying to say about Tororo, there is an issue of a small tribe trying to fight for their coexistence and recognition up to today since time immemorial. When that issue comes on this Floor, I beg that this House seconds it and concludes the issues of Tororo. That is the information I would like to give.
MR TOM ALERO (NRM, West Moyo County, Moyo): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Hon. Asamo, thank you very much for the motion and I support it.
Mr Speaker, there is generally discrimination, oppression, suppression, exploitation and prejudice against the smaller tribes in Uganda. There is need for coexistence, harmony, togetherness and mutual respect for all the tribes in Uganda.
When the minority or smaller tribes come to Kampala or elsewhere, it is true that they do not know the language – Luganda. For example while asking for directions, you might ask, “Where is Nakasero?” Someone will reply, “Nze simanyi” and you feel so bad and discriminated against –
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: What was that you said? (Laughter)
MR ALERO: “Nze Simanyi” means I do not know. Of course, I have already learnt Luganda.
Mr Speaker, usually names are given negatively. For instance we, from the North, sell chicken so they call us, “Abakoko” or “Abadokolo” and when people go down there, we call them banana eaters. Why all this? Why do we discriminate and segregate? Why do we call people such names? From today onwards, my dear leaders, let us go all out and campaign for hon. Asamo’s motion. I thank you very much.
GEN. PECOS KUTEESA (UPDF Representative): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Fellow legislators, I have got a point to make. Uganda has over 43 million human beings. If we fragment ourselves as much as we think we are doing, I do not know where we are going.
The President of Uganda needs 10 interpreters to send a message. When will we be Ugandans? I do not know how to describe it but I find it very – when I meet a Tanzanian anywhere, I usually ask them who they are. They usually say they are Tanzanian; that is when I tell them that I am also a Catholic.
Recently, I had an officer who I sat with for a long time. He is a Tanzanian and he has been married for more than 20 years. I asked him what tribe his wife is. He just told me she is a Tanzanian. To me, it was a message but here, if I meet a Ugandan, they will first say that they are a Munyakole, who is a Catholic and a Ugandan. Which one comes first?
When civilisation comes, people merge. India has 1.2 billion people with more than 120 religions but they all have one focus, one voice; not because people are marginalised –(Member timed out.)
MR HASSAN FUNGAROO (FDC, Obongi County, Moyo): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I thank my colleague, hon. Asamo, for moving this motion and I support it.
The constituency that I represent has a collection of minority communities; Gimara, Reli, Aliba and Ribo. They are very brilliant people. If you read the history of Uganda, ask any President in this country, they served them. They are even serving the current Government today.
The problem, which brings this motion, is what I would like to bring to your notice and particularly address myself to the presentation of my colleague, the General there. When does a community recognise that they are a minority? It is in the distribution of resources and opportunities. That is where the problem is.
I know the Tanzania you are talking about because I have been there. In Tanzania, opportunities are given on the basis of your ability, not tribe.
We raised several cases in the Committee of Defence and Security on issues of promotions in the army; if you ask my brother here – you are a General. Who were the people that fought the wars you commanded? Majority of them came from these small tribes but when it comes to the promotions, they promote you because you are connected to the big tribes. This is what is in the army and the current Government of Uganda.
The way forward is this; let us go on merit and the minority tribes will not mind – (Interruption)
MS KAMATEEKA: Mr Speaker, I do appreciate that this can be an emotional topic but is my honourable colleague in order to say that the minority groups fought but when it comes to promotion, “you” were promoted? Who is “you” he is talking about?
We are here as Ugandans and we represent Ugandans. In fact, I think this gives credence to the fact that when we focus on these small tribes, then we are dividing ourselves more. When you start pointing fingers and saying, “you were promoted”, who is “you”? Is the honourable member in order to use that kind of unparliamentary language?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: What was the unparliamentary language? Would you like to wind up?
MR FUNGAROO: The way forward for the members of the minority communities is that it is about power and influence. You can be small in numbers but very influential people. These are the ways you should master it:
i. You should have knowledge;
ii. You should have money;
iii. You should know how to fight and be willing to fight when it is necessary to fight – (Member timed out.)
MR FRANCIS GONAHASA (FDC, Kabweri County, Kibuku): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the team that brought up this motion. I am very concerned about how far this will divide us. My concern is; how are we going to uplift the few who are marginalised?
I come from the Bagwere people. My very interesting approach to how some of these cultures could be promoted is that we should look at building those groups, not antagonise their neighbours. For example, where I come from, we pray in Luganda. We asked, “Why do we have to do it in Luganda?” We were told that this is because our languages were “small” and maybe not as godly as the Luganda language was. (Laughter)
A few years back, my father, who was a bishop, together with some old reverend started writing the Bible in our language and it has been written. We are now reading the New Testament. Why are we doing this? We want to record our history in our language so that the people get to know it but that does not mean we do not recognise the official language of this country.
I would like to challenge those of us who are complaining about being marginalised to concentrate on those things that will help build our people. (Applause)
First of all, we are really Ugandan and I belong to that party which keeps saying “one Uganda, one people” and we should not deny it because it is a fact.
MR GAFABUSA: Thank you, Mr Speaker, and thank you honourable colleague for giving way. The information I would like to give in relation to this motion – even when I agree with you – is that some of these challenges are institutional. They are part of the government systems and they are difficult to deal with.
I will give one example: Under the Ministry of Education and Sports, we have what is called the “Thematic curriculum” where our children are supposed to be taught in their local languages up to primary four.
What happens is this, you go to the Ministry of Education and Sports and all these minority ethnic tribes are not listed under the thematic curriculum. If you go to Bundibugyo, for example, you will find that our children are being taught in Rutooro, no Rubwisi, no Rwamba, no Banoma, and no Rutwa. It is, therefore, part of the government system that is complicating this. I just wanted to give that information. This is what we are trying to solve. Thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member. We need to draw this to a close. It is a very good debate but we need to draw it to a close. I am asking the Leader of the Opposition to speak and then somebody from the Government and then hon. Asamo will make her prayers again.
THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION (Ms Betty Aol): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Big is good. In Uganda we say, let us have Swahili to unite all of us and then we have English too. However, culture anchors us. We become strong. Culture is very important and culture is about language, food and our dances. We should never try to do away with our culture.
I personally campaigned for one person who was an Acholi and the wife was also an Acholi but the children did not know Acholi as a language. It became very hard for us to push that person to come to Parliament – that was during CA – and yet he was the best. He was very competent but because he didn’t take culture very seriously, it became a problem.
Now, for those very small groups or tribes, let us promote them; let them also promote themselves. I would like to give you an example of when Acholi became marginalised. During Amin’s time, you did not want to identify yourself as an Acholi because of fear of dying and so you would be very proud to speak another language and introduce yourself as somebody not from Acholiland. This is bad. We should not marginalise these smaller tribes. We should tell our people to be proud of their first language.
At one time I thought every white person speaks English but when you go to the developed countries, you find that they speak their own languages. When you go to Germany, you have to learn their language. This is the same case for China.
It is important for us here also, to make sure that the small tribes stand strong in their languages. Whether it is taught in school or not, let your child first know their mother tongue. Mother tongue is very important because it anchors us in the culture of that tribe.
I would like to thank and congratulate hon. Asamo for bringing this. We must promote and we must not destroy those tribes. We must promote their dances, the way they communicate and their customs. Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR TRADE, INDUSTRY AND COOPERATIVES (COOPERATIVES) (Mr Fredrick Gume): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Colleagues, this is a very interesting report because it brings out the identities of various people. The motion should be taken and we are sure, as Government, we will also support it.
I am one of the examples. I am a Mukenye by tribe but I have been a leader in Jinja District and then Kaliro. We had a meeting of the Bakenye in Pallisa but my fellow Bakenye could not recognise and accept the fact that I am a Mukenye until I got to the drumming aspect. The sound of the drum created a unifying factor and they said, “This is one of us.”
It is time for us to come up – the Government has also done a lot because in our ethnicity, we have been able to hold very responsible positions. We will support the motion. Thank you.
MS HELLEN ASAMO (NRM, PWDs, Eastern): Mr Speaker, I would like to first of all thank the honourable members for supporting this motion. I would like to emphasise the issues of culture, issues of language and identity.
Sometimes, as a Ugandan, you feel bad when you are out of the country. If I moved with the Speaker, I cannot communicate with him, other than in English. I think it is something that Uganda has to begin thinking of.
Before I make my prayer, I moved with somebody who shares the same language with me up to Denmark and back and the whole time we were speaking English. Then at the airport, when I was calling my people in Ateso, he was surprised and said, “You mean you are an Atesot!” And yet all those miles we had been there speaking English. Yet other countries, like Tanzania and Kenya, people are using Swahili. In Rwanda, people use one language. What is that unifying factor in Uganda?
I would like to pray, with the prayers that are in the law that a legal framework be put in place to address the issues of peoples of indigenous communities so that they can be identified and their culture should not be lost. Thank you very much. I pray that this prayer will be taken into consideration.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, I now put the question that the motion for a resolution of Parliament urging Government to recognise and protect the unique languages, culture and customs of minority communities in Uganda be adopted.
(Question put and agreed to.)
THE COOPERATIVE SOCIETIES (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016
THE CHAIRPERSON, COMMITTEE ON TOURISM, TRADE AND INDUSTRY (Mr Robert Kasule): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for tolerating us and working with the principle of the Harvard model of having mutual understanding, mutual respect and collective responsibility.
Mr Speaker, I beg to lay on the Table the minutes, the report of the committee, the parent law; the Cooperatives Act, Cap. 112. I beg to lay.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Act is already part of the House. Let the records capture that. Proceed Chair.
MR KASULE: Mr Speaker, this is the report of the Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry on the Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
Honourable members, you will excuse me because I am not going to read the literature review, the background, the object of the Bill and the methodology.
Compliance with crosscutting issues
Mr Speaker, on page 4 of the report, some have got to do with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and under Sustainable Development Goals, there are subheadings such as ending poverty and all its forms, providing quality education and lifelong learning for all.
Cooperatives contribute to food security by helping small farmers, fisher folk, livestock keepers, forest holders and other producers to solve numerous challenges that confront them in their endeavours to produce food.
Gender and Equity
The Bill is not compliant with gender and equity on the following grounds: The principle of gender and equity are primary to achieving social justice in terms of rights, access to resources and representation in decision making for many marginalised demographics all over the world. We are commenting on the issues and we shall see it in the amendment.
Article 40 of the Constitution provides for economic rights and especially, Article 40(1) requires that Parliament shall enact laws to provide for the right of persons to work under satisfactory, safe and healthy conditions and to ensure equal payment for equal work without discrimination. On that matter therefore, the objective of this Bill is to amend the Cooperative Societies Act, Cap. 112 to strengthen regulation and supervision of all types of cooperatives, improve safety soundness of savings and credit cooperatives, enhance cooperatives identity and solidarity, promote member empowerment and improve governance within cooperatives for sustainability of cooperatives enterprises and for other related matters.
Mr Speaker, I will now go to committee observations and I beg that I should be given opportunity to read all of them.
The committee observed that the country has very few people with vast experience in cooperatives management, yet the Bill does not mention training in cooperative development. The current syllabus of accountants does not have a component of cooperatives. The Second National Development Plan (NDPII) implementation strategy recommended a review and upgrade of Kigumba Cooperative College as a centre of academic excellence in cooperatives skill development. However, the institution’s infrastructure is dilapidated and the ministry has not presented any plan to revamp it.
The committee therefore recommends that cooperative colleges like Uganda Cooperative College, Kigumba and Uganda Cooperative College Tororo should be revived and upgraded in all their infrastructural and technical aspects to provide adequate training in the areas of cooperatives in order to sustain cooperatives development across the country.
Inadequate Certificate of Financial Implication
The committee observed that implementation of the amendment Bill is inadequately guaranteed by the Certificate of Financial Implication, which requires the ministry to utilise Shs 2.6 billion, within the already existing budget. This implies that the ministry has to budget within the available Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) ceiling, hence there is no additional budget allocation to finance the new provisions.
The committee further observed that the Bill provides for regular audits on operations of all registered societies and strengthening the framework. These provisions have new financial implications and will require new resources. It was also noted that the ministry’s budget under Program 2: Cooperatives Development, Subprogram 13: Cooperative Development is underfunded by Shs 8.190 billion.
The committee recommends that the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development should consider the new and expanded mandate of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives and submit to Parliament a realistic Certificate of Financial Implications that reflects Government’s commitment to cooperatives development in the fourth coming budgets.
Term limits for leaders
The committee observed that restriction of the term of office of leaders will affect operations of rural SACCOs, which rely on a few experienced people to lead them. Changing leadership often will deny them the much-needed expertise yet SACCOs in rural areas have provided financial inclusion to the unbanked population. The committee noted that some primary SACCOs like Wazalendo have term limits in their by-laws, which are good for institutional SACCOs that have a large pool of expertise. Term limits are also good for tertiary and secondary SACCOs because of the large pool of expertise they have, which is drawn from different SACCOs.
The committee therefore recommends that exceptions are provided in law to nature the growth of the small SACCOS.
Compliance with international principles of cooperatives
Cooperatives around the world operate according to the same core principles and values, adopted by the International Cooperative Alliance in 1995. The International Cooperative Alliance is a global membership association of cooperatives and cooperative support organisations. Cooperatives trace the roots of these principles to the first modern cooperative founded in Rochdale England in 1884. Below are the seven principles. Members will read through the principles of cooperatives.
Mr Speaker, section 49A(6) provides that notwithstanding subsections(1),(2),(3),(4)and (5), every registered cooperative society shall provide for five percent of its annual turnover in its budgets funds for cooperative member education. The committee observed that the proposed increment in the contribution to the education fund is contrary to international principles of cooperatives. The issue is already handled under Section (49) of the current law. The current practice is that primary SACCOs retain 50 per cent, of the education funds and the secondary SACCO takes 50 per cent, of the training funds.
Mr Speaker, with those few remarks, I beg to move.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you very much. Honourable members, the motion that I propose for your debate is that the Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2016 be read the second time. I had already proposed it for you and the chair has reported from the committee. Debate starts now.
MS ANNET NYAKECHO (Independent, Tororo North County, Tororo): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. I stand to support the report of the committee.
Mr Speaker, every time I used to think about cooperatives, I would wonder what happened because cooperatives are a driver to the development of any society. Once farmers are put together in any form, they are able to negotiate better, sell and get better proceeds and even their voices can be heard better when they are united as a group than when they are individualised.
Mr Speaker, there are few cooperatives dotted all over the country but the proposal to revive them is highly welcome and it will also energise the ministry.
I would like to also thank the committee for its suggestion to revive the Uganda Cooperative College (UCC). In Tororo, we have UCC Tororo and I hear about UCC Kigumba. These institutions are instrumental as far as training the young people in this direction is concerned. However, they have had a challenge of infrastructure. The buildings are dilapidated. They do not have adequate staffing and also the funding has been poor.
For the committee to come up and suggest revamping the cooperatives, is a great stride and I support the committee. They need to be energised and uplifted.
Apart from the prayers of the committee, it is also important that we look at the commitment of Government. How committed is Government in this direction? Time and again, committees sit; do due diligence and come up with important suggestions such as these but then it remains here on the Floor.
So, I would like to hear from the minister about his commitment to the efforts that are being directed to us today in this House –(Member timed out.)
MS HELLEN ASAMO (NRM, PWDs Representative, Eastern): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Of recent, our people have started forming small cooperatives because they think they should come together to have bargaining power. I would like to think that the revival of the big cooperatives will then help these people in small cooperatives to get to a bigger institution.
Some of us here know that our parents used to take cotton to the cooperatives. When they got food, they would take it there and there would be bargaining power on the price. What is happening now is that people are being cheated. I will talk about Teso where when you bring your potatoes and sell them at Shs 2,000, nobody bargains and somebody carries them and takes them elsewhere.
I would like to think that the revival of cooperative societies is critical. I agree with the committee that we should not give them a term limit, especially the lower ones because sometimes when you begin a SACCO at the lower level, you are the person who had the vision and ideas. By the time you change management, they might collapse at that level.
However, at a higher level where we have the Parliamentarians SACCO, Bugisu Cooperative Union and Wazalendo -those are big ones – they have good by-laws and constitutions and the people at that level understand.
Therefore, I would like to support that we revive the cooperatives because of this thing called a “liberalized” economy. You find maize from Uganda being flooded in Busia and taken to Kenya where the cooperatives are and our people are very happy to receive this money.
People from South Sudan come sometimes to uproot cassava in the garden and people are very happy that they are even going with the soil but they are missing out. So, I think the cooperatives will come up with regulations, which will help to protect our people and ensure that food security and bargaining power is controlled. Thank you.
MS JOY ATIM (UPC, Woman Representative, Lira): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the committee for the report. Issues of cooperatives have been talked about in this House for a long time. In our constituencies, we have seen the high need for cooperatives so much that people really want it but they have challenges here and there.
Uganda used to have those cooperatives and it was so strong that when you went to the banking sector, they had a cooperative bank. When you went to the agricultural sector, there was Lint Marketing Board. There was Coffee Marketing Board and so many that people had a lot of confidence in them. I would relate the poverty that is looming today to a situation where cooperatives went down and people were doing things the way they wanted.
Today when you ask them to join associations to build a cooperative, put their produce together and they have a high bargaining power, they say you have another source of income. When we put it there, where is the market? We used to have Lint Marketing Board. They had somewhere they could sell their produce.
When they put it in that cooperative, they had somewhere they could sell it. When are you putting it in place so that our people can now form the cooperatives? I am happy many of them are now in cooperatives but where is the marketing strategy? Where are they going to sell their produce if they really join the cooperatives?
I would like to bring to the attention of this House that we have these small cooperatives called SACCOs, which the women are so much engaged in. Men simply come to associate but the majority of them are the women. There is no regulation. At the end of the year, they distribute their monies that they put together or somebody runs away with it. There is no legal framework to protect the meagre income of these people that they put together. I wish to hear from the minister and the report of the committee on what they have put in place to protect these people.
The ministry has said that if you want to get a tender –(Member timed out.)
MR LAWRENCE BIYIKA (NRM, Ora County, Zombo): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to, first of all, thank the committee for the good report, especially when it talks about putting a legal framework for the cooperatives in Uganda. I think cooperatives are very important for the development of a country, especially in helping the communities and population like the agricultural workers and farmers.
They will be able to have joint marketing for their produce and that will boost their income in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. I think this kind of amendment will help to put a legal framework to guide the operations of cooperatives in Uganda.
In 1966, that is when the Malaysia Cooperative started and they borrowed a lot of things from Uganda. When you go to Malaysia and Japan, the cooperative societies are very strong. They can even influence political decisions; so I really want to support this.
In Zombo District, we had the Okoro Cooperative Union which was working on the coffee. We are now introducing tea. Those cooperatives will help to boost the income of farmers and ensure that we meet and improve the livelihoods of the people. Thank you for this report.
MR JONATHAN ODUR (UPC, Erute County South, Lira): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I wish to thank the committee but also add that I thought it could have done much more than what they have presented to us, given that the Bill raises a number of issues.
However, I would like to support it because this Bill seeks to reform the legal regime governing cooperatives. In light of the current development, the increment in the number of cooperatives, lessons that have been learnt and the best practices, I would like to support some of the principles that have been embedded in.
Mr Speaker, you will see that we have inclusiveness embedded in this Bill because it seeks to reduce the age requirement of membership from 18 to 12 years. With many young people struggling to raise and be brought into the savings culture, I think the inclusiveness works well.
I wish to indict Government in a way. I think models that have worked for this country should not be destroyed deliberately. The model for cooperatives is a special purpose community development model and the UPC Government had laid a very good foundation for this. Somehow, along the way, it was deliberately destroyed, of course with influence from some of our development partners that brought in some policies and forced our Government, as recognised here, to take those policy directions, which have the effect of destroying what model already works for us.
If you look at many of the people who have been successful in education, health and agriculture sectors, it was based on the model of cooperative. If we had a cooperative, we would not be having the current transport challenge of the boda bodas and taxis in Kampala.
I would like to support the Bill and add that the ministry proposing this Bill has suffered a lot. It is actually one of the dry ministries because they do not have a legal regime to come to Parliament for us to appropriate money for them. I have been there myself. You ask them to visit your cooperative; you will wait for six months because they will be looking for money to come.
Therefore, I am grateful you have targeted the human resource by proposing that Government invests in building the capacity of people who are going to manage the cooperatives. I also would like to appreciate our Members of the UPC that –(Member timed out.)
MR MICHAEL MAWANDA (NRM, Igara County East, Bushenyi): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the committee for this report. I have the following observations because I think this Bill has been long overdue.
First, these SACCOS that fall under cooperative societies have, in one way or another, been mismanaged. Poor people have lost a lot of money because of poor leadership and failure by Government to clearly monitor and supervise them. I hope this Bill will take care of that to ensure that people do not continue losing money through SACCOS, which fall under the cooperative societies.
Secondly, Mr Speaker, I hope this Bill will also empower the ministry to carry out its oversight role in terms of supervising and monitoring cooperative societies. Time immemorial, the officers of the ministry have given a clean bill of health to various cooperative societies and it will be hardly a week or a month, you see the cooperative societies collapsing. Officers sit in their offices and make unreal reports about cooperative societies. I would like to see the strength in the ministry’s reports. It should go down and supervise these cooperative societies.
Thirdly, Mr Speaker, are the bylaws. These cooperative societies pass their own bylaws. In most cases, the bylaws conflict with the regulation of the ministry. You find some cooperative societies are managed by a few people; one becomes a chairman, he steps aside and another one comes in and steps aside. It rotates among them when in actual sense they must have a term limit in the leadership of the cooperative societies.
So, we would like the ministry to look into the harmonisation of the bylaws to ensure there is a smooth running of cooperative societies. Thank you.
MR SILAS AOGON (Independent, Kumi Municipality, Kumi): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I do not agree with my colleague on the issue of having term limits on cooperative societies. This is not a political party neither is it a ruling Government. Therefore, what we mind about here is performance and if somebody is doing a brilliant job, everybody stands to benefit. After all, annually, we have a general meeting where people discuss and look at their performance. They will refer to what you did in the previous year and give you the mandate based on that. If you are critically transparent, the books will speak for themselves and the people will support you. Therefore, I am not for the issue of term limits.
Secondly, the issue of economic inclusion can only be expanded when we have cooperative societies. If you come to a place like Teso, we used to have Teso Cooperative Union. It collapsed. Even the ginnery which was in Teso collapsed because the other one had gone down. They were complementary. We have only one ginnery surviving and that is Kachumbala Ginnery. However, the cooperatives went with the banks.
So, we must revive these cooperatives with their banks if we are to reach somewhere. Uganda, as a country, does not need donations. All we need is trade and for us to trade well, we need the cooperative societies. We are talking about the East African Community. How best can we trade with East Africa if people are not in groups? How do we enjoy the economies of scale?
Mr Speaker, we have not traded with COMESA. Some of these businesses are left to a few elites who either stole some money from somewhere or they were lucky to be close to the safe when the Indians were running away. As a result, they got capital.
The rest of the people who are not in groups cannot trade beyond their boundaries. I am aware of some people in some districts who do not know Kampala even up to now. If cooperatives were there, you would see a very big change.
Marketing can become so –(Member timed out.)
MR APOLLO MASIKA (NRM, Bubulo County East, Manafwa): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the committee for the good work done with cooperatives. The cooperatives are the organs which should have been revived a long time ago. There is a saying that, “what goes around, comes around”. This is what the people have been waiting for.
We have seen in our constituencies many people making SACCOS. Those are cooperatives. We need not even wait for the Government. As of now, we need the Government to come and put some money in cooperatives so that they can work well. We have cotton, we have Bugisu Cooperative Union and some people have talked of Teso. In the North, there are so many cooperatives dealing in cotton, groundnuts, cassava and what have you.
So, we need this power of being in cooperatives. Those are cooperation with power; the people are empowered. If the Government, therefore, can energise these cooperatives, our country will glitter. I have ever benchmarked in big countries like China. They have cooperatives and they have worked communally.
If the people can work together in the villages, they will have a high purchasing power. When the cooperatives are revived, our country is going to see a big change in economic development.
So, –(Member timed out.)
MR ANTHONY OKELLO (NRM, Kioga County, Amolatar): Mr Speaker, allow me add my voice to thank the committee for the report and to state that world over, cooperative societies are the main partners of the economy. If you look at serious developed economies like India, since 1904, the cooperative movements have progressed uninterrupted and to-date cooperative movement has become the lifeblood of the economy of India.
Mr Speaker, I grew up knowing the existence of cooperative societies but unfortunately to-date they have become defunct. I would like to regret that because of the political climate, it became increasingly difficult for any sustainable and meaningful management of cooperative societies.
The cooperative movement should have recorded sustainable progress because they had demonstrated the ability or capabilities of reaching rural areas and also because of the huge credit network that they have in the rural areas.
However, this time round I also would like to be very optimistic that as we rejuvenate the cooperative movement in Uganda, the perspective, mission and strategies of these cooperative societies should be globally competitive so that at the end we can have sustainable interventions; that can address the needs of our people.
But I support the report and the Bill. Thank you very much.
MR GENENSIO TUMURAMYE (NRM, Kashongi County, Kiruhura): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I strongly support the committee report to revive and revamp the cooperatives. The cooperatives in one way or the other help us wherever we come from in our constituencies.
The role of a cooperative society is primarily in financial resources mobilisation, agro-processing, marketing of agricultural produce and at the end of the day it promotes the economic and social welfare of our societies.
There is a SACCO which was formed by few individuals; the owner brought his son in the SACCO, another person was brought to become the manager and at the end of the day the resources were swindled by the son of the owner of the SACCO.
There is need to regulate or to put up a legal framework to be able to curtail issues of fraudulent activities within the SACCOs.
If this is not done, we are going to affect the operations of SACCOs in the country. Therefore there is need to streamline the operations, the regulatory framework of the SACCOs and in general the cooperative unions.
This has been a very important area of concern and as Government we need to support this motion so that much money can be put in the cooperatives; to be able to give our local people to sustain themselves, educate their children and promote the welfare of the communities at large. I therefore support the motion. Thank you very much.
MS ROSE AYAKA (NRM, Woman Representative, Maracha): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise to support the motion because we needed these cooperatives yesterday. But nevertheless we are happy today that the cooperative societies are being revived.
The agricultural sector has been basically suffering in this country because farmers were not organised in groups. We have been facing challenges in the storage of agricultural produce.
Sometimes during a bumper harvest, these produce are not catered for; therefore when farmers come together I think some of these challenges are going to be addressed so that they will find adequate storage for their excess produce.
The initiative by the Government to build Uganda and buy Uganda; when these farmers come together they will not only store produce for sale, probably they will also think of other initiatives like adding value. For example, the maize, beans which are produced in excess and other produce which they can add value to.
With all these benefits of the cooperative societies, I would like to support this motion and say that we need to move in this direction. Thank you.
MS LOWILA OKETAYOT (NRM, Woman Representative, Pader): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the committee for the report. I think it is very important for us to revive the cooperative societies and have a strong and good legal framework in place to regulate them.
If we look at the composition of the cooperative societies that we have as at 2018, you will realise that a majority of them are under the agricultural sector; agricultural production and marketing cooperative societies.
When I look at the report of the committee and see the meetings that the committee held with different sectors and different institutions and agencies, I do not see the committee holding a meeting with the ministry of agriculture, which I think is crucial.
This to me raised the issue of coordination; what kind of coordination are we going to have between Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives and Ministry of Agriculture in regard to the fact that the majority of these cooperative societies are for farmers.
In this report, I see the committee raising the issue of training in cooperative skills and they talk of having no cooperative colleges.
If they had consulted the ministry of agriculture, they would realise that the agricultural extension workers are trained and learn a lot about cooperative movement and have skills of helping these cooperative societies.
I would like us to see how we will have coordination because if we must support these farmers in their cooperative societies, we need to see how coordination will be done.
Otherwise, we must have this law in place to revive the cooperative societies and adequately regulate them. Most of the SACCOs do not have clear income-generating activities, they save money, get loans – (Member timed out.)
MR NATHAN NANDALA MAFABI (FDC, Budadiri County West, Sironko): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I would like to tell my colleagues that we are not reviving cooperatives because there is already a law. We are just trying to amend it to see that it fits in the liberalised environment.
The law we are amending is the 1991 law which was put in place when Uganda was still running a monopoly in those areas of cooperatives.
The problem we now have is having District Commercial Officers instead of District Cooperative Officers. These people now report to the Local Government instead of reporting to the Ministry of Trade as far as cooperatives are concerned. At an appropriate time, we will ask the chairperson to allow us raise amendments to bring back these people in the Cooperative Society Act.
That applies to the education institution. Our education institution called Kigumba now which was training cooperative officers was also used to train committee members of cooperative societies. However, now that it is under the Ministry of Education, I think the Ministry of Cooperative Societies has lost authority to supervise them. Now the reason you are talking about having poor committee members is a result of lack of education because if that institution was under the Ministry of Trade and Cooperatives, it would go a long way to deal with that.
I also request the chair to look at Section 45 which says that every cooperative society if it wants make any deposit, it must make it in a cooperative bank but now we do not have cooperative bank. I think as we make this law, we should put somewhere a transitional clause so that the cooperative bank which was closed, is quickly put in place.
Mr Speaker, it is unfortunate that the law wants to introduce a board within a board. They are trying to bring a supervisory board inside a board- there will be cooperative society and have a board and then have a supervisory board. You are causing conflicts and that will bring a problem-
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: The honourable member had requested because he was supposed to submit to the committee but then we brought the Bill forward so he was not able to access the committee so I had allowed him to finish his point, which he could have raised with the committee.
MR NANDALA-MAFABI: Thank you, Mr Speaker. That is one of the things that I would like the minister to know not bring conflicts. The other thing concerns the powers of the registrar. Under Section 52, the reason why colleagues have been complaining- why is Bugisu Cooperative Union demanding money from Government, it is because the Government used the law, went and managed Bugisu Cooperative Union for five years, took everything which was there and left debts and we said you cannot go without paying debt so you must pay our money. That is the reason.
Again, powers of the registrar should not really be that when you come in and do something, you do not go and grab an institution. What you do is to put mechanism in place that where there are problems, there must be mechanisms on how to address them. It should be general meeting, which is the supreme body to deal with that. That is one of the reasons that the amendment should be aimed at making sure that the registrar should be in charge of registration, deregistration, inspects the site to see if they are fit like how Bank of Uganda supervises banks and see how those that are not fit are deregistered.
Mr Speaker, this law was coming to basically target me –(Interjection)– I will give an example because you remember my brother Gagawala was by then a Minister of State of Trade. Where it says that nobody who is a leader should be in leadership- whatever the case, any leader from LC1 should not be a leader in cooperative society.
To do that better, you should say that no leader- if it is farming it should be a farmer, if it is me who brought coffee, you should say, stop growing coffee – because for you to be in a cooperative society, you must be having a product which that cooperative society deals in. Failure to do that, you will have a problem.
Therefore, I would like to say that the ministry should be open that if they are still carrying that view, then the Parliamentary Sacco is going to have a problem. They will be the first culprit, then industrial one. Therefore, we do not want to make a law which aims at people.
In that light, we should address people who are stealing money in cooperative societies. In the law, people who are supposed to be in leadership should have guarantees. I am happy that you brought vetting committee- that is a very good idea, but also when you are coming in, you should declare. In case you have problem, what happens? If you are going to be general manager of a certain society where a colleague said that the father brought a son, there should be guarantees that in case this person steals, the guarantors should be held liable.
In fact, you people made a mistake, the father should have been the first to be arrested before you arrested the son. Therefore, we should put in the law that guarantors should exist for anybody in leadership in any society. That would curtail the theft of public resources in the society. That also applies to the Minister of Cooperatives.
If you want to get money here, show the whole world that cooperatives are the engine to development. By the way, no country has developed in the world without cooperatives.
However, at the end of every financial year, maybe three months, you should be able to submit a report on cooperatives. Those which are active, dead, those registered or deregistered.
On your schedule, you have a lot of cooperative societies which do not exist. You should have asked for money quickly to clean up your register. Under the Company Act, if you do not file a return, you are deregistered. In fact, they first put you in dormant, and should you come back that you want to do anything, they tell you to pay money. However, you just keep people on the register without knowing that these are wrong people in that area.
Mr Speaker, there are some amendments that we shall propose. However, there are three more issues I want to look at and the first one is the term limit. There has been the problem- that is why my brother is looking at term limits. The reason as to why we should amend the law further is to say that at least all boards are supposed to be for four years. However, in cooperative societies, it is two years. Others have made bylaw of one year.
Therefore, that makes the development of that institution a problem. After six months before you are thinking about the next plan, you are thinking about the next election –(Interjection)– yes, I am giving a live example because I have been in it.
Therefore, to make it better, there must be vetting. You see when you vet you look at the fitness of people and guarantees. Secondly we should allow them at least four years as we have made with other boards so that people can be able to move –(Interjection)– I know why you are arguing, you do not have one. You know cooperative societies of India very well but not Uganda- therefore, four years because there will be vetting committee that will be vetting. On this committee, the registrar must be present. The purpose as to why he must be present, there might be issues which the registrar must deal with.
There must be prescription of minimum qualification. If we do not have minimum qualification in some of these at a high level, we have a problem. You come to a board, you want to interpret something, there is no local language about it so you need to do it in English then you will find a problem. There must be a minimum qualification like others in Tanzania – I like the Swahili in Tanzania.
Then the 12 years is a problem- to bring a kid in a cooperative society is very dangerous. You see, maybe your father can open up a savings account for you in a cooperative society but not a kid of 12 years. The Constitution of Uganda says to be a voter you must be 18 years. Even in cooperatives, to be a member, you must be 18 years otherwise should you pass 12 years you are going to be taken to International Labour Organization for child labour abuse. I think we must be careful when making these laws.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think the bigger point is what is the age of majority in Uganda? At what age can a person make a valid contract? How are you going to get a 12 year old to make a contract? I think that is the bigger point that you are making.
MR NANDALA-MAFABI: Mr Speaker, you have stated it. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives wants to say that a 12 year old can contract. First of all, to be a producer of coffee, you must dig. Are you telling us that a 12 year old should go and own a shamba and start digging? They will arrest you. As you have said, the contract age is 18 years.
We should really go to the institutes. We have the Uganda Law Society for lawyers and the auditors have the Institute of Certified Public Accountants for the auditing profession. The audit should follow what the Government of Uganda does. In the cooperatives, within three months after the financial year, you should be able to present the accounts and you know the mechanism to do that is not easy.
The Government of Uganda period for presentation of accounts is six months and in the Company Act, we have also moved it to six months. Therefore, the Cooperatives Act should also be in line with six months. We should amend it from three months to six months but also, sanctions must exist for those who do not produce accounts on time. I thank you.
THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION (Ms Betty Aol): Thank you, Mr Speaker. For this particular sector, we all know that we can call it a productive one. It started off some years ago after being buried. When something is buried and then you try to rejuvenate it, it can be a big problem.
We have always supported the idea of reinstating cooperatives. We know that Uganda is predominantly an agricultural economy and that is why we keep talking of farmers. I remember when I was young, we used to have the Uganda Transport Company (UTC) which I thought was some kind of cooperative transport and so many other cooperatives. In order for these cooperatives to be revived properly, we need the law.
At the same time, we also need to appropriate fairly. The appropriation is my complaint. I know we are going to work on the law and amend the Act but when you look at what is given to cooperatives and industries – yet our youth really look for jobs. There, we would also have provisions for jobs for our youth.
Cooperatives are also empowering to the people. If we want to empower our people not to beg and be self-reliant and even to “drive us” the politicians, we need cooperatives. We need their bank back – the Uganda Cooperative Bank. They would not be bothering us; instead, they would be strong to point at the weaknesses that we, politicians, have. Hence, it is important for us to critically look at it.
There is something that we could probably include in the law. When we give a lot of power to an individual, like a commissioner, for example, it is not good. If somebody is going to deregister a cooperative, the powers should be given to a tribunal instead of an individual like a commissioner or probably a minister. Therefore, we need to be careful with those powers and we need to guide it through the laws. Thank you very much.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is there anything from the ministers or should I go?
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR TRADE, INDUSTRY AND COOPERATIVES (COOPERATIVES) (Mr Frederick Gume): Mr Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues for the contributions made.
In summary, I can just say, like you have echoed, cooperatives have the potential of increasing production, productivity and value addition and hence critical for Uganda’s transformation towards an inclusive middle income economy.
I take cognisance of your contributions and I would also like to promise that we will try our level best to ensure that we commit ourselves to your views. I would like to thank you, Mr Speaker.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you. Honourable members, can I put the question? I put the question that the Cooperatives Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2016 be read the second time. I put the question to this motion.
(Question put and agreed to.)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, do we have our friends from the Islamic faith here? They are here. Can we do it this way; those of you who have any proposals – because when we start tomorrow, I will not entertain any changes from what has already been proposed and shared.
Can we use the time from now to tomorrow to look at what we need to propose and share so that when we come to process it is easier for us than getting up at the committee stage and proposing amendments. All those issues you have articulated, please, if they require amendments, I need those amendments circulated so that we can deal with them.
This is not a Bill that should take us very long at committee stage because I have seen that the committee has done a good job. Out of the 29, they are proposing to amend 10, which is not bad. If there are any additional amendments outside this, we need to know them because at least the committee’s amendments have already been circulated. This will enable us see how we can guide the process of accommodating this.
Honourable members, the time being what it is now, we will be able to proceed tomorrow. The House is adjourned to tomorrow at 2 o’clock.
(The House rose at 5.42 p.m. and adjourned until Thursday, 9 May 2019 at 2.00 p.m.)
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