President Museveni has officially opened the annual judges conference at Speke Resort Munyonyo under the theme “An Inclusive Judiciary for Sustainable Development”.
“Normally we talk of the independence of the Judiciary, which is one of the principles we fought for. However, we should add “independent and relevant” Judiciary,” he told the judges.
According to Museveni, it would be a disaster if the Judiciary is not linked to aspirations of the population.
“For example, as you aspire for international best practices, you must be aware that societies like the United Kingdom went through the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago. Here in Uganda and Africa you are dealing with pre-industrial societies.”
The president said he was happy with innovations of the Chief Justice, especially those to do with barazas (community engagements).
The Chief Justice, who is a good Christian, must be picking a leaf from Jesus, who humbled himself and came down to earth for sinners, he noted/
“I saw some NGOs agitating against the death sentence. In a pre-Industrial society like ours removing the death sentence is a recipe for chaos. In our society, we believe in the Law of Moses; eye for an eye. I have been making the mistake of not sanctioning these death sentences, I am repenting.”
On the issue of resources, Museveni said Uganda had collapsed and was a failed state, like Somalia.
“Luckily, our NRM/A liberation struggle succeeded and we began the journey to economic recovery.”
In making demands, Museveni said people should know that Uganda is just recovering.
“We can look at the issue of wastage that the Chief Justice said. But some of this wastage is covered by the Constitution.”
For example, the Constitution gives Parliament powers to determine its emoluments. If they pass a Bill twice, even if he doesn’t assent, it becomes law. They constitutionalised lack of coordination.
“I urge the other units of government to borrow a leaf from the Army. We have defended the country even with very scarce resources. We have never gone on strike to demand better pay. We die so that there is peace. And not just peace in Uganda but regional peace.”
The Asian countries that people see developing have made similar sacrifices. They were frugal, they were not gomandising like Ugandans, Museveni pointed out.
He promised to work with everybody to deal with wastage and corruption. “But currently, I can’t, for example, stop a Parliamentary committee from traveling abroad to benchmark. I can try with the Executive.”
Besides wastage and corruption, the president cited under collection of taxes due to under investment in infrastructure. The telecoms for example under-declare the volume of international calls and pay less tax.
“In the face of a limited workforce, my advice to the Judiciary would be to prioritize the type of cases to expedite. Cases of murder, rape, homicides, commercial cases should be given priority. If we have a backlog, let it be for cases like divorce.”