Parliament has approved a Motion to increase the number of Cabinet and State ministers from the Constitutional total of 42 to 80.
The Government Chief Whip, Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa (Kiboga district), who moved the Motion, said the increment was “necessary for government to improve service delivery.”
The Motion, which seeks to vary the number of Cabinet and State ministers from 21 each as provided for by the Constitution, has been a regular occurrence in each new Parliament since the promulgation of the Constitution in 1995.
Articles 113(2) and 114(3) provide that the total number of Cabinet and other Ministers shall not exceed 21 except with the approval of Parliament.
The current Motion sought to increase Cabinet Ministers from 21 to 31, and other Ministers from 21 to 49.
Nankabirwa said the country’s population, demands and pressures had kept increasing since the limits were set in 1995.
“The framers of the Constitution had reasons to set these limits, but they foresaw the likelihood to increase the numbers by asking Parliament to approve the increment,” said Hon. Nankabirwa.
“A similar Motion has been tabled since the 6th Parliament. It is necessary to improve on efficiency through political mobilization, hence the increment of ministers.”
Opposition legislators however argued that a big Cabinet had not led to improved service delivery and that the rate at which former Ministers lost their seats during the February 2016 elections was a sign of inefficiency in Cabinet.
The MPs said that the size of Cabinet should instead be reduced.
Members added that the creation of special ministries for Karamoja, Bunyoro and Luwero had not developed or improved government services in those particular regions.
The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Winnie Kiiza, said the Cabinet was not equally serviced and did not properly reflect regional balance.
“Government is not delivering proper services to the people and Ministers are paying at the elections,” Hon. Kiiza said.
“[Former President Milton] Obote had less than 20 ministers but they were efficient, services were delivered and hospitals were built.”
The new cabinet positions include the Minister for Kampala City Authority (KCCA); the Minister in charge of Science, Technology and Innovation; Minister for Karamoja Affairs and the Minister for Information, ICT and Communications.
In addition, these were previously state portfolios under the President’s Office and Office of the Prime Minister.
Also created were positions for the State Minister for Kampala Capital City, Minister of State for Cooperatives, Minister of State for Veteran Affairs and Minister of State for East African Affairs.
On the following dates Parliament approved Motions to vary the number of Cabinet and State Ministers:
7th Parliament: 12 July 2001: State Ministers were increased from 21 to 45;
8th Parliament: 19 May 2006 Cabinet Ministers were increased from 21 to 25; and State Ministers from 21 to 44;
8th Parliament: 29 October 2009 Cabinet Ministers were increased from 25 to 26; and State Ministers from 44 to 45;
9th Parliament; 25 May 2011: Cabinet Ministers were increased from 21 to 29; and State Ministers from 21 to 47.