Uganda: Domestic Bill on hold

All Africa
The Domestic Relations Bill (DRB) has again been shelved amidst protests from several MPs, mostly women activists.
Constitutional affairs state minister Adolf Mwesige sought to have the Bill withheld as it was due for the second reading in Parliament yesterday.
Deputy Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, however, ruled that the Bill be brought back to Parliament for the 2nd reading on June 16.

Mwesige said following protests from different important sections of society like the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council and the Uganda Joint Christian Council, the Government had mandated the Law Reform Commission to consult further on the issue before it could be debated in parliament.

This enraged the MPs, who said it was a ploy by the Government to withdraw the Bill. They expressed fear that once withdrawn, would never see the light of day again. The Bill has been pending for over 40 years.

Miria Matembe (Mbarara) said there was no need for further consultations.

"We have met everybody who needed to be consulted. There is no law that can be acceptable to everybody.

"In Cabinet, I shed tears before the President to ask him to accept this law. There is no law on sexual offences, inheritance, protection of women and many other areas. I want the Government to come out openly and tell people that it does not intend to bring this law," Matembe said, throwing her fists in the air.

Premier Prof. Apolo Nsibambi said the Government was only altering the order of business to allow for further consultations. He said the matter was too contentious and could cause religious wars.

Ben Wacha (Oyam North) said, "The fact that we have come this far is indication that the Government wanted to pursue its principle to its logical conclusion. There is no Bill or anticipated law that does not invite resistance from various bodies.

"The purpose of bringing the Bill to the House is to have it panel-beaten to acceptable positions to everybody. If we are to set a precedent to withdraw it, then we should as well go home. Right now it is not possible for some people to divorce in this country, are we going to continue with this lacuna?" he asked.

Mary Amajo (Kaberam-aido) said the Bill had been pending for over 40 years and it was unfortunate that the Government was again trying to withdraw it at this stage.

Avitus Tibarimbasa (Ndorwa East) said the Bill needed to be debated immediately.

Omara Atubo (Otuke) said the Government had intentions of completely withdrawing the Bill. He said if it was a matter of consultations, the Government did not have to come to the House to withdraw the Bill, since that would be an administrative matter.