The Attorney General, Mr William Byaruhanga, is set to present before Parliament a new Bill that stipulates how family property should be shared should the family head die.
The Succession (Amendment) Bill 2018, which seeks to replace the Private Member’s Bill earlier presented to Parliament, was approved by Cabinet last month.
On Wednesday, the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee gave the Attorney General a go-ahead to present the Bill to the House for debate after they were convinced by its contents.
So what is the new Bill about?
The Succession (Amendment) Bill seeks to align section 27 with the Constitution by recognizing women’s right to own and dispose their property at death as well increase the entitlement of the surviving spouse.
The object of the Bill is to amend the Succession Act, Cap. 162 to bring it in conformity with the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and to reflect the current prevailing socio-economic circumstances in Uganda and internationally accepted human rights standards.
While making the case for the Bill on Wednesday, Mr Byaruhanga explained that existing Private Member’s Bill favours only the widow at the expense of the children.
He said under the Private Member’s Bill, when a husband dies, his widow is entitled to take 50 per cent of his estate; his children take 41 per cent while his relatives are entitled to 9 percent.
He noted that the Bill is not fair to the children since most men in the country have more than five children. Giving the biggest share to the widow who might get married to another man is unrealistic.
“In any family, the children are the majority. Therefore this provision of giving 50 per cent of the estate to the surviving spouse is going to cause a lot of issues if this law was to go out to the public.
We all know that the proponents of this law are fully aware that women generally outlive men. This law is intended to favour women at the expense of children whose share has been reduced from 75 per cent to 41,” Mr Byaruhanga continued.
“There is a false claim that when you give to the widow, you have as well given to her children. This is not true because if she is remarried and for example dies, her new spouse would be entitled to 50 per cent of her property and he may not even have children with her. So we are saying let the children be given their share directly,” he added.
Mr Byaruhanga further argued that the Private Member’s Bill applies to only monogamous marriages yet many men in the country are polygamous.
“This Bill applies to only men with one wife and children. What happens to men with multiple spouses and children? This is segregative in nature. The government Bill is targeting all men since the government has to look for solutions for its people,” Mr Byaruhanga submitted.