By Our Reporter
President Yoweri Museveni has appointed Muruli Mukasa (pictured), who is the current Minister of Public Service as the Acting Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. This was made after a constitutional crisis was created with the docket being empty.
Muruli’s appointment was made public by Deputy Attorney General, Jackson Kafuuzi while appearing before Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee to present the 2022/2023 National Budget Framework Paper for the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
Kafuuzi’s pronouncement followed a procedural matter raised by Asuman Basalirwa (Bugiri Municipality) who wondered whether the constitutional crisis that was created following the failure of President Museveni to appoint a Minister of Justice had been resolved.
“I just want us to have confirmation that now senior Counsel Kafuuzi is designated as Minister of State for Justice and Constitutional Affairs and as such is competent to represent the Ministry before this Committee to avoid that debate we faced in the House,” asked Basalirwa.
In his response, the Deputy Attorney General revealed that it has been a practice in the Ministry of Justice to carry out duties of the Minister of State for Justice but with the President not appointing Minister of Justice following the ouster of former Justice Minister Ephraim Kamuntu, it has been impossible for him to conduct such duties.
He added: “For the time being, the President hadn’t appointed the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, and because of that I couldn’t act as Minister of State for Justice. But as of 13th January 2022, the President has appointed Minister Muruli Mukasa to act as minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.”
However, Yusuf Mutembuli (Bunyole East) argued that the practice at the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for the Deputy Attorney General to takeover duties of Minister of State for Justice is unconstitutional and demanded for official appointment letter of Kafuuzi as Minister of State for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, saying such a decision can’t be taken by the conventional practice in the Ministry.
Mutembuli said: “I think that practice in my view is unconstitutional and as Legal Committee, I don’t think we can allow this to continue and I don’t think this is something that is acceptable because your mandate is clear under article 119(a) what you do. I don’t see where you are the Minister of State, and if you say this has been the practice, is this practice constitutional that we should condone?”
The Deputy Attorney General fired back at the MPs, saying he isn’t interested in holding up the office and if they think he isn’t competent to represent the Ministry of Justice, they should wait for the presence of Muruli in their Committee.
“It isn’t in my interest to hold out and in the event that this committee feels that it is a must for the Minister to appear and the Deputy Attorney General isn’t competent enough, I can step aside and wait for the Minister,” said Kafuuzi.
It should be recalled that when President Museveni announced a new cabinet in June 2021, he didn’t name anyone to the docket of the Ministry and this latest development makes it his first attempt to fill the docket.
In the 2022/2023 national budget, the Ministry of Justice has been allocated Shs104.391Bn a reduction from Shs170.212Bn that was allocated in the 2021/2022 budget. However, the Ministry is seeking for extra Shs618.983Bn in unfunded priorities.