Special interest group representation in parliament is one of the unique features of Uganda’s 1995 Constitution. It also distinguishes Uganda’s parliament from the rest in the East African region. Although workers were privileged to have had two representatives in the 1989 Constituent Assembly that debated Uganda’s 1995 constitution, special interest group representation in parliament was embedded as an affirmative action measure. The 289- member Constituent Assembly included the youth, women, persons with disability (PWD), workers and the army. The youth, women and PWDs were largely included to overcome historical imbalances and marginalisation in society, while for the army and workers; it was because of the historical role they played in Uganda’s political trajectory. This representation was however subjected to review ten years after the commencement of the Constitution and every five years thereafter for purposes of retaining, increasing or abolishing any such representation.
Whereas this review has not escaped parliament since, there is recent and growing concern over the relevance of special interest groups especially with regard to their effectiveness in serving the interests and needs of their constituencies as well as over the process of their review. The mode of review has been through motions in parliament supported by show of hands. This coupled with the historic value of averting discrimination with which special interest groups have been associated, necessitated Kituo cha Katiba: Eastern Africa Centre for Constitutional Development (KcK) with support from the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) in 2015 to undertake a study An Appraisal of Two Decades of Advancing Rights and Interests of Youth and Workers under the 1995 Uganda Constitution. The study examined more closely the role of the youth and workers Members of Parliament in promoting and advancing the rights and interest of their constituencies as envisaged under the 1995 Constitution, government policies and programme and relevant laws. It also examined linkages between the special interest members of parliament and the role of constitutional bodies in protecting the two special interest groups.
The findings of the study are a collation of relevant literature on the subject and the views of various key stakeholders in seven districts of Uganda. They were shared and discussed with various key stakeholders from across the country and benchmarks for assessing the performance in parliament of youth and workers MPs evolved as a final output.