Government of Uganda has been given up to Tuesday to table amendments to resolve the impasse between the Electoral Commission (EC) and candidates vying for different seats over the variation in names on their national Identity Cards and academic documents.
The Government is also expected to table a Local Government Act amendment Bill to remove the age limit for Local Council 3 chairpersons and also provide for election of one female councillor per sub-county/town council or division.
Deputy Attorney General Jackson Kafuuzi, Local Government minister Raphael Magyezi and EC officials led by the chairman Simon Byabakama yesterday appeared before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee to answer the queries raised during the Wednesday sitting.
On Wednesday, MPs asked why EC was turning away candidates whose names on national IDs do not correspond with those on their academic documents.
The MPs argued that the decision amounts to discrimination mostly against women who adopt their husbands’ names after marriage.
The MPs also asked why EC ignored the amendments to the Local Government Act in March which provide for each sub-county/town council or division to elect a woman councillor to the district council instead of one woman representing two or three lower local governments as has been done.
They also questioned why candidates aged below 30 or above 75 are not being nominated to run for Local Council 3 chairperson seats after the age limits were removed in the Constitution amendment of 2017.
Mr Jacob Oboth-Oboth, the chairperson of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, reported to Parliament yesterday that in a meeting with the deputy Attorney General, Local Government minister and EC team, it was agreed that the relevant laws be amended to address the three concerns.
“We have implored the ministers in charge to go and look at it and come with an appropriate amendment to make it easier for women who adopt their husbands’ names,” he said.
During the meeting, the EC insisted that they are implementing Section 36 of the Registration of Persons Act 2015 which requires anyone aged 18 and above to publish in the national gazette any intent to change names.
On nomination, the EC wants a candidate who has changed names to present a sworn statutory declaration indicating that the other name belongs to him or her.
Mr Magyezi told the committee and Parliament during plenary that his ministry intends to introduce amendments to the Local Government Act to repeal the age limit for the Local Government leaders and also fix the provisions on women councillors.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga directed that the concerned ministries and AG use the weekend to study the contested laws and table amendments on Tuesday next week to allow the changes be effected in time.
It is not clear whether after the amendments, Parliament will direct the EC to expand the nomination window for the candidates running for local government positions so that those who were blocked are nominated.