Is the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament ready for Constitutional Horse-Trading

Uganda is currently undergoing a process of amending the Constitution. The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee is holding public hearings on Constitutional Amendment Bill No 11 of 2015. This process will lead to the fourth amendment of the 1995 since its promulgation.

It’s important to note that this is a unique approach to the process of amending the 1995 Constitution, save for the first amendment when a vote for a referendum was passed without quorum and was successfully challenged in the courts of law. In 2005, the two subsequent amendments were made after debate on the Sempebwa Constitutional Review Commission Report which had been constituted to receive and compile peoples’ views for Parliament’s consideration.

A principled constitution building process means that everyone will need to lose something in order to gain something better. What distinguishes constitutional politics is that constitutional amendments will gain legitimacy only if they have the broadest base of supporters. So, political players of constitutional politics realize that their success also needs to be built on shared values and principles as the only way to give everybody a stake through constitutional horse – trading.

The main reason why constitutional reforms succeed or fail in their countries is the way people in power behave at critical times when there is need for cooperation in stakeholder-driven constitutional reforms.

In South Africa, the text of the constitution emerged as a final negotiated settlement between the leadership of two dominant parties during the post-apartheid era in 1994. Also in 2010, Kenya enacted a politically negotiated constitution after the polarization of the 2007 post-election violence.

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