Parliament Approves Cabinet Expansion

Articles 113 (2) and 114 (3) of the Constitution provide that the cabinet shall have a total number of 42 ministers (Cabinet and State) and that the president can only vary the number with the approval of parliament.
Parliament has approved the motion to increase the number of ministers to 80.  The outgoing cabinet comprised 79 ministers including 29 full cabinet Ministers and 50 State Ministers.  Articles 113 (2) and 114 (3) of the Constitution provides that the cabinet shall have a total number of 42 ministers (Cabinet and State) and that the president can only vary the number with the approval of parliament.

Now, this morning, the West Budama North East MP, Fox Odoi moved a motion to increase the number of the cabinet to 80 members during plenary chaired by the speaker, Jacob Oulanyah at Kololo Independence Grounds. He explained that the additional post would cater for the elderly, which he described as a unique group that requires representation in Cabinet.

Odoi also said that the efficient running of the State would require an increase in the number of Ministers given that the country's population has increased from 20 million people in 1995 to over 44 million people. Dokolo Woman MP, Cecilia Ogwal, seconded the motion, saying that the Tenth Parliament had previously approved the representation of elders in parliament as a special interest group, adding that they also require representation in Cabinet.  

“'We need a specific office to design legal framework, policies and programs for the elderly in this country. Ministers appointed for other assignments cannot deal with issues of the elderly," said Ogwal. However, a section of opposition legislators opposed the move to expand cabinet, saying it would increase public expenditure at a time when Uganda should be devising ways of reviving the economy amidst the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We are putting a lot of money on administrative offices for nothing. 80 ministers are a huge cost to the population. Tanzania and Kenya are moving faster without a big number of Ministers," said Kalungu West MP, Joseph Ssewungu. Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of Opposition said that MPs have a duty to advise and caution the president and not only to meet and approve what is brought to the table.

"There is no one against the elders of this country. The issue is about the numbers. There is need to advise the President that the problems of the elders are not ministers...they need planning in what is available but not political mainstreaming," said Mpuuga. Christine Kaaya Nakimwero, the Kiboga Woman MP questioned why parliament is debating such a motion at this time instead of handling issues challenging the elderly directly like good health services.

John Baptist Nambeshe, the Opposition Chief Whip questioned whether there is a collaboration between a big cabinet and improved service delivery. "Instead, it increases public expenditure. We should be discussing other measures since the economy is punching below its weight. The president is obsessed with numbers as if it will be proportional to service delivery to the populace," said Nambeshe.

But Santa Alum, the Oyam Woman MP said that the Eleventh Parliament cannot completely close its eyes to business handled by the Tenth Parliament that considered elders as a special interest group. She said that elders should form part of the new parliament by adding a State Minister in charge of the elderly.

Judith Alyek, the Kole Woman MP shared the same sentiment, saying that elders should have representation in Cabinet. After a heated debate, Speaker Oulanyah put a question on the motion and the majority of MPs responded in support of expanding cabinet.

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