On 9th October 2012, UG will mark 50 years of independence. In a concise essay identify one key historical event from the 50 years period between 1935 and1985 and illustrate how it has impacted on or defined the course of constitutional development in Uganda.
The impact of the abrogation of the 1962 constitution to the constitutional development in Uganda.
“Convoluted” is a single word that can describe the evolution of constitutionalism in Uganda. Constitutional development in Uganda refers to the fruition of the principles of constitutionalism among the people of Uganda over the years. This essay attempts to evaluate and explain the impact of the abrogation of the 1962 constitution of Uganda to constitutional development by critically looking at its impact on the doctrines of constitutionalism including independence of the judiciary, separation of powers, protection of human rights, rule of law as well as the role of the army to mention but a few.
In 1964, according to Kristin Leefers A Worldwide Student Journal of Politics, discord within the UPC, as well as challenges from opposition parties threatened Uganda’s political development and led to massive instability. In my opinion the abrogation of the 1962 constitution was an inevitable occurrence given its loopholes and the questions it left unaddressed such as the head of state, the federal unitary relations between Buganda and Uganda, the question of the lost counties between Bunyoro and Buganda amongst others. These discrepancies set the ball rolling for the friction between Buganda and the central government to the extent that by 1966 the Prime Minister had to discard it. Much as some scholars argue that judging by the mental and cognitive maps of the people of Uganda, the constitution had a lacuna as regards some of the critical issues which are required for the proper implementation of the constitution. Despite the claim by Morris and Read (1966) Uganda the Development of Its Laws and Constitution, London Stevens and Sons that “perhaps more than any other modern constitution in Africa this constitution of Uganda was essentially homegrown.”, Obote believed that the constitution was not suited for the needs of Uganda and Akena Odoko (1969) Uganda Crisis who asserts that “Obote abolished the constitution not because he loved it any less but because he loved Uganda more.”
The abrogation of the 1962 constitution laid a background to the promulgation of the infamous 1966 interim constitution commonly known as the pigeon-hall constitution. The Attorney General of Uganda Professor Godfrey Binaisa who later in an interview in 2002 admitted to drafting the constitution said that it was the only solution to the looming anarchy that was to overrun Uganda and he says his intention was never to abolish kingdoms. During the parliamentary session when the constitution was to be approved, Obote’s troops surrounded the parliament as a way of coercion and all the Members of Parliament where thoroughly checked before entering parliament. This was against the doctrine of parliamentary democracy and it became clear to the Uganda people that the power they had vested in their representatives had been rendered useless. This implied that the role of parliament that was to legislate or make laws for their proper governance had been overrun and Uganda was just steps away from becoming a dictatorship.
Justice Professor Dr. G.W.Kanyeihamba (2001) Political and Constitutional History of Uganda pg. 286 asserts the rule of law is not a rule as such but a collection of ideas and principles propagated in the so-called free societies to guide law makers, administrators, judges, and law enforcement agencies. Its essence is that both the rulers and the governed are equally subject to the same law of the land. In 1966 Obote declared a state of emergency and stormed the palace of Muteesa II....
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