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Tuesday, 12 December 2006
 
Parliament met at 2.50 p.m. in Parliament House, Kampala
 
PRAYERS
 
(The Speaker, Mr Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, in the Chair.)
 
The House was called to Order
 

COMMUNICATION FROM THE CHAIR
 
THE SPEAKER: Honourable members, I welcome you and thank you for finding time to come to do your work. In the public gallery, we have visitors from Kayunga District. Their group is called Nazigo Womens Group. You are most welcome to your Parliament! There are two other groups, but I do not have the details. As soon as I get the details, I will introduce them to you.
 
The Order Paper will be adjusted to indicate business to follow, to include the motion by hon. Lukwago for Kampala Central on Shimon Demonstration Primary School. I understand copies have been issued to you but it was not included on the Order Paper. There will also be a statement by the Acholi Parliamentary Group on the land issue in the region. These will all be indicated tomorrow.
 
BILLS
COMMITTEE STAGE
 
THE EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES COMMISSION BILL, 2006
 
2.55
Clause 1
 
THE CHAIRPERSON, STANDING COMMITTEE ON EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES (Ms Jalia Bintu): Mr Chairman, I beg to propose that Clause 1 be deleted and the justification is, it defeats the intention of Article 32 (4) of setting the period within which the commission was to be established. The establishment of the commission is useful only if the commission is functional. Leaving the enforcement date to the minister may make the commission dormant for a long period after the enactment of the law. The date of commencement should be left to the general interpretation required, which is the date of publication. I beg to propose.
 
THE MINISTER OF GENDER, LABOUR AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT (Mrs Syda Bbumba): Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. We had proposed Clause 1 because establishing a commission like this is an easy process. However, in view of the lateness, which has been justified by the chairperson of the committee, we concede to the amendment.
 
THE CHAIRMAN: Very good.
 
(Question put and agreed to.)
 
Clause 2
 
MS BINTU: Mr Chairman (Interruption)
 
THE CHAIRMAN: Sorry to interrupt you again. Present in the gallery are teachers and members of the management committee of Shimon Demonstration School. I think they have come to see what is happening here. You are welcome! (Applause)
 
MS BINTU: Mr Chairman, in Clause 2 I propose that the definition of discrimination be replaced with the following: Discrimination means any act, omission, policy, law, rule, practice, distinction, condition, situation, exclusion or preference which directly or indirectly has the effect of nullifying or impairing equal opportunities or marginalizing a section of society or resulting in unequal treatment of persons in employment or in enjoyment of rights and freedoms on the basis of sex, race, colour, ethnical origin, tribe, birth, creed, religion, health status, social or economic standing, political opinion or disability. The justification for this definition is to include all forms of discrimination for clarity. I beg to propose.
 
THE CHAIRMAN: Honourable members, that is the proposed amendment. Any comment?
 
MRS BBUMBA: Mr Chairman, the amendment which has been proposed is an expansion of what we had in the Bill. So, we have no problem with the expanded interpretation.
 
MR ARUMADRI: Thank you, Mr Chairman. This interpretation includes discrimination on grounds of political opinion. We are already faced with this problem and I wanted the Bill to be very emphatic as to how it intends to cure this. But it looks like it is just glossing over it.
 
THE CHAIRMAN: Glossing over it? What is your position? Do you agree with this new definition by the committee?
 
MR ARUMADRI: Yes, Mr Speaker.
 
THE CHAIRMAN: Very good.
 
(Question put and agreed to.)
 
MS BINTU: Mr Chairman, there are some more amendments on Clause 2 and I do not know how to proceed. Should I move them all at once?
 
THE CHAIRMAN: Please do.
 
MS BINTU: I propose that the definition of equality be deleted. The justification is that, the only place it is used does not need a definition.
 
The other amendment is on the definition of the expression equal opportunities. I propose that the definition of equal opportunities be inserted immediately after the definition of discrimination as follows: Equal opportunities means having the same treatment or consideration in the enjoyment of rights and freedoms, attainment of access to social services, education, employment and physical environment, or the participation in social, cultural and political activities regardless of sex, age, race, colour, ethnical origin, tribe, birth, creed, religion, health status, social or economic standing, political opinion or disability. The justification is that, the expression is frequently used in the Bill but it is not defined.
 
Mr Chairman, I beg to propose that the definition of gender be replaced with the following definition: Gender means the social (Interruption)
 
THE CHAIRMAN: Let us finish with the other one before we come to that. Now, the first amendment proposed, honourable minister.
 
MRS BBUMBA: Mr Chairman, we concede to the amendment by way of deletion of the definition of equality because as the chairperson of the committee stated, it is very scarce. It is stated only once in the whole Bill and therefore does not require a definition.
 
MR LUKWAGO: Mr Chairman, I would like to know the harm it does to have the definition of equality in this Bill. In my opinion, I see no harm in having this clause in the Bill. There is that justification that the only reference to it does not require definition, but I see no harm.
 
THE CHAIRMAN: In other words, you are opposing the deletion.
 
MR LUKWAGO: Mr Chairman, I oppose the deletion.
 
MS BINTU: Mr Chairman, where the term equality is used does not need an explanation. For neatness in the Bill, we needed not to define it.
 
THE CHAIRMAN: Well, honourable members, there is a proposal to retain and there is a proposal to delete. Therefore, since there are two proposals we shall start with the one of deletion. I put the question. Is it clear to you? You see, the word equality is in the Bill; the committee has come out with a proposal that it should be deleted. There is a Member who said, No, do not delete it. Leave it as it is. Since there are now two positions, we shall start with the one of deletion. I put the question.
 
(Question put and agreed to.)
 
THE CHAIRMAN: The second proposed amendment was equal opportunities. Honourable minister, please.
 
MRS BBUMBA: I thank you very much, Mr Chairman. I do not have a problem with inserting the definition, but we thought that since it was the subject matter of the Bill, it did not require a definition. But at the same time, we have no problem with those who feel that the definition should be there. Thank you.
 
THE CHAIRMAN: Honourable members, I put the question on the proposed new definition of equal opportunities.
 
(Question put and agreed to.)
 
THE CHAIRMAN: You do not seem to be following. What we are dealing with are the proposals of the committee. The committee has proposed to expand or to clarify the definition, which they have read to us. Therefore, when you support it, we will replace the earlier definition in the Bill.
 
MS BINTU: Mr Chairman, I propose that the definition of gender be replaced with the following: Gender means the social and cultural construct of roles, responsibilities, attributes, opportunities, privileges, status, access to, and control over resources and benefits between men and women, boys and girls in a given society. The justification is for clarity and having a widely used definition.
 
MRS BBUMBA: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. We had thought that we would use the summarised version assuming that everybody understood what gender is. But again, if the committee feels that they needed an expanded definition of gender we have no problem. We accept the amendment.
 
THE CHAIRMAN: I put the question.
 
(Question put and agreed to.)
 
MS BINTU: Mr Chairman, I propose that a new definition of sex be inserted immediately after the definition of person as follows: Sex means the natural state of being male or female. The justification is that, it might be deliberately misinterpreted to suit some peoples interests in case we do not define it here.
 
DR BUTURO: Mr Chairman, I support the chairperson of the committee on account that these days we have interest groups which are seeking to argue that it is permissible for a man to marry a man or a woman to marry a woman. This is unacceptable to the majority of Ugandans and so, it is essential that any amendment we make provides for that situation.
 

MRS BBUMBA: Mr Chairman, in view of what is happening globally and what has happened recently in South Africa, I support the amendment.
 
THE CHAIRMAN: I put the question.
 
(Question put and agreed to.)
 
Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.
 
THE CHAIRMAN: Before we move to Clause 3, I think in the spirit of the East African Community Federation, in the public gallery we have visitors from Moro Secondary School in Moro Constituency in Kenya. We welcome our visitors from Kenya! (Applause)
 
Clause 3
 
THE CHAIRMAN: I put the question that Clause 3 stand part of the bill.
 
(Question put and agreed to.)
 
Clause 4
 
MS BINTU: Mr Chairman, I beg to propose that two new clauses be inserted after Clause 3 to read as follows:
1)  Independence of a commission: Subject to the Constitution, the commission shall, in exercise of its functions be independent and shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority.
 
2)  Seal of the Commission:
 
(i)  The seal of the commission shall be:
(a)  in such form as the commission may determine.
(b)  applied in such circumstances as the commission may determine subject to any written law.
(c)  Kept under the custody of the secretary.
 
(ii)    Judicial notice shall be taken of the seal of the commission and any document sealed with the seal shall be admissible in evidence.
 
The justification is to highlight the type of body established and to provide for the seal of the commission. These clauses are re-allocated from other clauses of the Bill to suit the sequence. I beg to propose.
 
MR WACHA: Mr Chairman, I have a small matter on the independence of the commission. I think we should remove the comma from after shall and bring it immediately after functions so that it reads: Subject to the Constitution, the commission shall, at the exercise of its functions, be independent and shall not be subject to&.
 
MS BINTU: Mr Chairman, I am most obliged.
 
MRS BBUMBA: Mr Chairman, we had not provided for the independence of the commission in the Bill on the assumption that being a constitutional body set up by the Constitution, its independence is clearly defined as an oversight committee. We thought that would suffice. However, for emphasis and clarity, I think it does not cause any harm if we inserted the new Clause 4. The seal of the commission is referred in Clause 5. I think it is common practice with such bodies to have a seal, which is managed in the way proposed here.
 
MR LUKWAGO: Mr Chairman, I beg to differ on the issue of the judicial notice of this document, which bears the seal of the commission for two reasons: This clause has an effect of amending the Evidence Act, which is a different legislation altogether. The Evidence Act has a list of documents, which do not require proof and which court can take a judicial notice of. This then affects the Evidence Act without necessarily bringing a Bill to amend it.
 
Secondly, there are dangers involved in this concept of judicial notice. We need to be careful when we are legislating on such documents because they should be tested before they are included. (Interjections) I seek your guidance, Mr Chairman. Should I proceed?
 
THE CHAIRMAN: Please, proceed.
 
MR LUKWAGO: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Taking judicial notice of documents is a requirement of law and it might be dangerous for us to have this as a document without necessarily subjecting it to scrutiny, especially that it has a seal of the commission; that it is admissible without going through the necessary procedures of admitting public documents. Mr Chairman, for those two reasons, I beg to disagree with this proposed amendment.
 
THE CHAIRMAN: You mean your first one is that this, if taken, will be amending the Evidence Act by infection and that amendment by infection should have been accepted as a way of amending - Is the Evidence Act not subject to amendment?
 
MR NANDALA-MAFABI: I support what the honourable member is saying. It would have been neater, if you wanted this document to be considered, to add it on the list of those, which occur in the Evidence Act rather than hiding it in this special one. There is no reason, which has been given as to why you think it is necessary for this particular commission, for its seal to be taken judicial notice of. You stand the risk of people being tempted to forge documents in respect of this. There is nothing special, which you are going to achieve by taking judicial notice of this document. I think there is no reason why it should be added.
 
MR NDEEZI: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I need guidance from the people who are opposing this provision. When we were considering this Bill, we noted that this is not the first commission we are creating. Our task was to compare the provisions of this commission with the provisions of other commissions, including the Uganda Human Rights Commission, Education Service Commission and other commissions of this nature.
 
We believed and concluded that almost all the commissions currently in operational do have this specific provision. So, what is the problem with including it in this commission, if it has done no harm in the other commission?
 
THE CHAIRMAN: Well, honourable members, there is a proposal, which has been made by the committee, the details of which were given to you by the chairperson of the committee. But some Members have opposed these formulations. Now, I think you must have appreciated the reasons for supporting and opposing. Now I want to put the question.
 
(Question put and agreed to.)
 
Clause 4
 
THE CHAIRMAN: Are there still more amendments on clause 4?
 
MS BINTU: Mr Chairman, on Clause 4, I beg to move that the clause be replaced with the following under the composition of commission:
 
i)  The commission shall consist of five members, who shall include a chairperson and vice-chairperson, at least one of whom shall be a person with a disability or a youth, and two women appointed by the President with the approval of Parliament.
 
ii)  Members of the commission shall be A System Error Occur. Please reload page