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Lawyers push Partnerships, Dialogue on Development

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Government to fund ULS, substitute outsourced legal work

STATE HOUSE, ENTEBBE: President Yoweri Museveni has said he will push funding for lawyers under the Uganda Law Society especially if their services aid local production and substitute importation.

“I have been told 80 percent of legal work in Uganda is being outsourced and they are earning money from the economy of Uganda. If you push that case of importation substitution and let the work be done by local lawyers, then I could push that you qualify for UDB, I will push it,” he said.

The President was yesterday meeting leaders of the Uganda Law Society led by the President Ms. Pheona Wall at State House, Entebbe. The lawyers are seeking to become more engaged in the development of the country through dialogue and partnerships and to exploit the job opportunities under the regional intergration.

“We have soft money in UDB for manufacturing and agriculture. Its true we were not looking at legal workers as important. They are like traders who go to China and bring human hair and sell it here when our women here are equipped with very good hair. The interest rate is 12% and might go to 8% for agriculture and manufacturing. Recently I added tourism that adds blood to us and not taking it from us,” he said.

On the issue of funding for legal aid, President Museveni said government frooze money from foriegnors who were doing things government didnt know about.

“This money from our European friends, that they wanted to give it directly, when we have government here. We are still sorting things with them,” he said. 

The President cited the example of the Inter-reglious council which used to get money from Europeans until they got into an ideological quarrel. 

“Europeans wanted them to support homosexually and when they said no, they cut them off. We were able to give them State funding. I can see you have the same problem. We shall see how to fund you,” he said.

President Museveni commended ULS for what he described as progress on their side because it seems from the beginning, the legal service in Uganda was colonial and neo colonial.

“I think that is why your predeceosors were spending so much time on externally pushed issues like human righs etc. If you are now talking trade, agriculture, industry, regional intergration, then I say okay you have now landed. Just like Jesus came to save us, he saw that staying in heaven was not going to help us,” he said.

The President said they have been looking at lawyers with funny curiosity. 

“I think the economy is helping you understand better. Being 3000, you cannot fit in all the narrow spectrum of representing imports. It seems much of your work is to do with criminal issues, abit of civil like land and then infrstructure. I dont hear much about advisory services for agriculture, industry, tourism. When Isaac Newton noticed gravity when he saw an apple falling down and not up and realised there was a force. You have also divcovered that there is money in agriculture, industry, services like tourism etc. I welcome you. You are waking up,” he said.

The President said northern Uganda has a lot of commercial agriculture many commercial farms and diary farmers in the South West that need legal services nearer instaed of coming to Kampala.

He pledged to fullfill the Shs 5bn for ULS this year or next financial year after consulting the Finance Ministry. 

He agreed to the request for the legal fraternity to be included in the Presidential investors round table and urged them to exploit opportunities in the oil and gas sector.

The President agreed to the request for an annual meeting with the ULS.

“I will be happy to come and tell you the NRM line. I condemn bail for murder..that bail is very provocative to tribes. People who have killed in Masaka for example, they must pay. For you to argue leniency is not in our pychology. The old testament of an eye for an eye is the doctrine of African tribes. That line of mixing up issues that procedure is more important than substance. We have not made it a big issue but that line has been distracting us. Laywers have not been helping in stabilisation of Uganda,” he said.

Ms. Wall said one of the programmes crucial to lawyers is how to get down to the ordinary people and give them services as a duly established statutory organistion.

“ULS has 3700 members but 90 percent of them are in the city. We are trying to spread our lawyers out into regional intergration and trying to grow the agriculture, exploit oil and gas sectors. We need lawyers upcountry,” she said.

Ms. Wall said they have decided to use dialogue and partnerships with government and they have already signed some MoUs with the Private sector foundation Uganda and with the UIA to create regional trade advisory hubs.

“We need to empower young layers under 35 years with trade hubs and enable them to spread out and educate our people. Many of our people are taking on loans, signing contracts and have no idea that selling their birth rights,” she said. She said over 1200 laywers released into market every year.