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Parliament Approves Bill Providing For Elderly Representation

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Ogwal also said that Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) compel countries to leave no one behind in their democratic process and that due regard should be made for the representation of older persons through the enactment of a law to facilitate the Electoral Commission (EC) to organize for their election.
04 Aug 2020 21:08
The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga chairing the afternoon plenary session. Photo by Parliament of Uganda.

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Parliament has approved the representation of the elderly persons on the list of special interest groups which should be represented in Parliament. The elderly will be represented by five legislators, voted on a regional basis.

This was embedded in  the Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill, which was presented by Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Ephraim Kamuntu and approved during the plenary session chaired by the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga on Tuesday.

Usually, after the Bill is presented for first reading, it is sent to the responsible committee for scrutiny within a period of 45 days after, which a report is presented before parliament for debate and approval.

But in this case, Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal had moved a motion for the suspension of several Parliament Rules of Procedure that provide for a process of handling a Bill to enable them to consider the piece of legislation immediately.

In her motion, Ogwal said that she was speaking on behalf of millions of people who have reached the age of 60 and there is nobody to cater to them.  She noted that it was important that the House isn’t polarized because of this.

Ogwal also said that Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) compel countries to leave no one behind in their democratic process and that due regard should be made for the representation of older persons through the enactment of a law to facilitate the Electoral Commission (EC) to organize for their election.

//Cue in; “I move a…

Cue out…representation of older persons.”//

However, Wilfred Niwagaba, the Shadow Attorney-General noted that the Speaker had earlier directed presentation of a Bill to amend the Constitution. He wondered whether the ruling had been vacated to allow for the presentation of a Bill amending the Parliamentary Elections Act. Kadaga noted that the provision in the Parliamentary Elections Act is the same as that in the Constitution.

//Cue in; “Madam Speaker I…

Cue out…we can proceed.”//

During the debate, the majority of the MPs supported the government position. But the Kampala Central MP, Muhammed Nsereko cautioned against creating seats for special interest groups since it doesn’t necessarily address the real issues. He instead urged parliament to look into the welfare of the special interest groups like the elderly other than creating seats for them.

Kasilo County MP, Elijah Okupa also said that the elderly people are the most represented in the current government and cited several elderly officials in the Judiciary, the Executive and the Legislature. Okupa said that the concerns of the elderly can easily be addressed in the current government given its composition.  However, Kadag cautioned the legislators against digressing from the matter before them.  

//Cue in: “if I got…



Cue out:…against the elders.”//

After the debate, Parliament moved to approve clauses within the Bill and adopted the provision to have five representatives for older person, one of them being female. The Bill also provides that the election of representatives of older persons in Parliament shall be divided into four regions namely; Northern Region, Eastern Region, Central Region and Western Region.

According to the Bill, the four regional electoral colleges shall each elect a Member of Parliament to represent the respective region and shall, after doing so, jointly elect the national woman representative for older persons.

“All members of a District Council for Older Persons within each region shall constitute an electoral college for the election of the representative of the older person in Parliament for that region. A person seeking to be elected as a representative of older persons in Parliament shall be aged at least sixty years and shall also be qualified to be a member of Parliament in terms of article 80 of the Constitution and section 4 of this Act” reads the Bill.

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