News

Existing Succession Law is Discriminatory and Outdated- Experts

The existing succession law is heavily discriminatory, outdated and not in conformity with the Ugandan constitution, legal experts have pointed out.

These revelations were made at a two -day media workshop on Gender- Sensitive reporting held at Abba hotel in Kyaliwajala, Kampala.

Having been formulated in 1906, Rebecca Atayo, a legal officer at Landnet, says the succession Act, Cap 162 is stale and not at par with current developments.

Citing court pronouncements, Atayo says some sections of this law need to be amended in line with local and international legal instruments.

Key among these, Atayo cites gaps in the administration of estates of deceased persons.

“We need to mainstream and stipulate how they are managed. We should also ensure that through the Succession Amendment Bill, there is more access to land which is really the sole property that is usually in contention for women who are victims of the current succession regime,” she said.

The development comes against the backdrop of a heated public debate on inheritance of property after the Church of Uganda installed Rhodah Nakimuli Kasujja, as the heir to the deceased former Prime Minister Prof. Apolo Nsibambi. Nakimuli is Nsibambi’s eldest daughter. 

Some traditional leaders argued that being female, Nakimuli was culturally barred from inheriting the estate of her deceased dad.

Prof. Nsibambi’s choice for a daughter as heir is unusual in Buganda Kingdom where he belonged to the Fumbe Clan. However, this being contrary to his culture, Nsibambi, the born-again Christian chose his daughter as heir.

With Rhoda Kasujja presented to the congregation as heir, Namirembe Cathedral Dean, Rev. Benon Kityo told the congregation that the Bible Okays daughters to be heirs to their fathers.

He read Numbers Chapter 27 under which God spoke to Moses about Zelophehad, the son of Hepher who had died without leaving a son for an heir.

The scriptures read that “Say to the Israelites, if a man dies and leaves no son, give his inheritance to his daughter. If he has no daughter, gives his inheritance to his brothers.”

Amidst applause from the congregation following this reading by Rev. Kityo, he called upon the Mukono Diocese Bishop, Rt. Rev. William James Ssebaggala to install and pray for the heir.

Ssebagala handed Rhoda Kasujja the Bible as a tool to guide her in the new responsibility also reminding her to hold close teachings she learnt from her father to accomplish her duties.

Law

In the 2005 case involving Law & Advocacy for Women in Uganda V Attorney General, seven sections of the existing Succession Act were outlawed.

Apparently, the succession Amendment Bill 2018 which intends to amend the Succession Act, Cap 162 (1906) is at committee level in the Ugandan legislature.

Clause 13, 1 (a) of the Bill proposes that a surviving spouse be allowed to own half of his/her interstate’s property.

In this case, dependant relatives and direct descendants are supposed to receive 9% and 41% respectively.

This is in contrast to Section 27 of the current Act.

Apparently, the law provides that where the deceased is survived by a customary heir, wife/wives, a lineal descendant (children) and dependent relatives, they are entitled to 1 per cent, 15 per cent, 75 per cent, and 9 per cent of the estate respectively.

Separately, clause 13, 1 (d) of the Bill states that where the interstate is survived by only a spouse or dependant and no linear descendant, any of the above will assume full ownership.

Allaying fears, Atayo said this arrangement is specifically geared to provide better protection for surviving children and spouses.

Interstate refers to a spouse who passes on without writing a will.

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