By: Eric Mukiibi
In line with a democratic environment, one should embrace both the notion of the rule of law and the doctrine of Separation of Powers(Hereinafter SOP); the rationale is that these two elements work hand in hand for a better free and democratic society.
It is worth noting the second President of United States of America John Adams said “the dignity and stability of government in all it’s branches, the morals of the people and every blessing of society depends so much upon an upright and skillful administration of Justice that the Judiciary power ought to be distinct from the Legislative and Executive and independent upon both”.
As Uganda’s biggest population(Youths) yearn for a better new Uganda, with due respect in accordance to my perception this is practically impossible per see due to defectives in the Country’s principle of SOP. However, the 1995 Constitution recognizes three independent Organs of government each with it’s obligations as constituted in a grund norm and other legal statutory laws of land. Uganda Executive has been instrumental meddling in the duties and functions of the Judiciary and Legislative, thus diluting the positive impactful meaning of SOP.
Leaving other factors constant, Uganda’s democratic system, by virtue of this SOP Judiciary, should take precedence over the rest in relation with 1995 Constitution. In business language, there’s a terminology known as “Scale of Preference” where you outline your desires commencing with a priority one; therefore, draftsmen of Uganda Constitution of 1995 were average people who thought about important things.
First, that is why Article 1 enshrines “Sovereignty of People” whereby all power belongs to people. This is concrete proof that it’s the most indispensable legal provision and when it’s read with article 126(1) “the Judicial power is derived from the people” then validities my statement mentioned supra about the judiciary taking precedence backed up with a legal argument of not reading the Constitution in isolation but in a context.
The hooliganism commenced with the 2006 Presidential election petition in Dr Kizza Besigye v Electoral Commission & Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, where former Chief Justice Odoki and 6 others by a majority of four to three made a pronouncement that the rigging of votes was not substantial to a null a presidential election per section 59(6) of President Elections Act.
Second, in Amama Mbabazi v Yoweri Kaguta Museveni & others Presidential election petition No.1 of 2016 Supreme Court presided over by Chief Justice B.M. Katureebe and others in assistance with a Makerere University Professor Oyango as an Amici Curiae recommended ten legal reforms to be addressed.
These were in addition to ones made by the same Court in the previous two presidential election petitions of 2006 and 2011 to be implemented by the Executive and Legislative through the Attorney General’s office. Here, the office was supposed to report to the Court within two years from the date of judgment.
Among others, the recommendations included Adjustment of time for filing and determination of the petition of 10 and 30 days, respectively, the Nature of Evidence in that affidavits are limited and employ oral evidence, Equal use of state-owned media, An incumbent’s use of his position to the disadvantage of other candidates, Involvement of public officers especially the Army, Use of public resources by the incumbent.
The time for holding fresh elections in case of annulment of about within 25 days. Seven years have elapsed, and recently, the Electoral Commission released the 2026 Election Road Map without even a single detailed page report from the Attorney General Chambers about recommendations expounded by the Supreme Court.
Therefore, would I be right or wrong to say that Uganda is governed by an advanced dictatorial system and what lessons does a developing country like Uganda grasp from John Adams statement.
Eric Mukiibi is a student at Nkumba University, School of Law and a member of Nkumba Law Society Research Club.
Vox Populi Vox Dei.