Women rights lobby groups are pushing for enactment of a legislation that allows widows to inherit half or most of their deceased husband’s property.
UWOPA (a group majorly comprised of female legislators) is pushing for the passing of the Succession Bill, which among other things seeks to raise the percentage share of a partner in marriage to up to 50 percent, shared on either death or dissolution of marriage.
Clause 13 of the Succession (Amendment), Bill 2018 seeks to revise percentages of the distribution of residential property of the deceased and have surviving spouse inherit up to 50 percent an intestate, up from the current 15 percent. The remainder 50 percent, according to the proposed law, shall be distributed among dependant relatives (9%) while 41 percent goes to children.
The proponents of the Bill say that the call for the 50 percent share for the surviving spouse, is a response to the matter of equity as catered for by the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.
Harriet Mary Lamunu, the Executive Director UWOPA says that equity as provided for in the Constitution, should be preached in totality as it also applies to marriage. She also says that the current 15 percent stands unconstitutional since it has a court ruling against it.
“If we are preaching about equity in marriage as provided in the Constitution, then it must be preached in totality; but also that provision was declared unconstitutional because it does not speak to the issue of equity which is within the Constitution. So, the proposal is to have 50/50 to effect the court decision of 2007” Ms Harriet said.
She says, the issue about equity should be valid both while married partners are alive and at dissolution of marriage. The proponents of the Bill claim the existing law is outdated especially in the light of the Constitution, Government Policies, emerging best practices and the legal environment.
Among the objects of the proposed law is to clearly provide for the protection of principal residential property for the benefit of the surviving spouse and linear dependants; to revise the percentages of distribution of the estate of an intestate, and to provide for a guardian for a child by either parent as well as provide for the powers or duties of such a guardian.
If the proposal gets a nod from parliamentarians, Section 27 of the Succession Act will be amended as follows:
27(1)(a) where the intestate is survived by a spouse, a lineal descendant and a dependant relative-
(i) the spouse shall receive 50 percent; (ii) dependants relatives shall receive 9 percent; (iii) lineal descendants shall receive 41 percent of the whole property of the intestate.
However, the percentage for the surviving spouse is set rise to 80 percent if the deceased had no lineal descendant(s), and then, dependant relative(s) will receive 20 percent of the property of the intestate.
The status quo provides for 15 percent of the estate to be given to the wife or wives, 9 percent goes to the dependant relatives, 1 percent is for the heir, then 65 percent is for lineal dependants –children.
A spouse according to the interpretation provided in the Bill means a husband or wife marred in accordance with the laws of Uganda or in accordance with the laws of another country and recognized in Uganda as marriage. A lineal descendant on the other hand is a child born in wedlock in a marriage recognized under the laws of Uganda.
The amendment among other things also seeks to provide for a heiress who are excluded in the existing law, as one of the beneficiaries of the property left behind by the intestate. It also