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How to form a SAACO in Uganda

If you are a regular Ugandan living in this current economy, you have probably joined or thought about starting a SACCO. A SACCO (Savings and Credit Cooperative Organization) is a group of people with similar interests who come together to form a credit union. The union is registered with the Ministry of Cooperatives, which in turn authorizes the SACCO to receive deposits and provide loans to its members.

SACCOs are a unique, democratic, member-driven, and self-help cooperative organization where members agree to save their money together and offer loans to each other at reasonable rates of interest. Interest is charged on loans, to cover the interest cost on savings and the cost of administration. SACCOs are a great way to save money and grow your income base.

To form a SACCO, members must satisfy the conditions under S. 4 of the Cooperative Societies Act. A SAACO must be comprised of at least 30 members, and all must be qualified by S.13 of the Act. Said member to qualify must have attained the age of 18 years and should be a resident or in occupation of land within the society’s area of operation.

“Small amounts saved daily add up to huge investments in the end.” 

– Margo Vader

REQUIREMENTS

A SAACO is a legal entity and therefore is required to satisfy all the legal requirements to be registered.

1. Name of community

Like anything, the name of any organization or company is the most important thing. While picking a name, the law requires that said name should reflect elements of domicile, and economic activity of its members and should bear the words Saving and Credit Cooperative Society.

2. Members

The minimum number of members required to start a SAACO is thirty members. This means that once a group has below 30 members/ individuals, it cannot register as a cooperative company. The beauty of it all is that the law does not really provide for an upper cup and therefore the members can be as many as possible.

Another major requirement for members is for them to have a common bond with other members. A person should either be a resident or own land in the area where they are registering the cooperative society. This is a form of accountability for members and makes it easy for members to trace each other in case loans are taken on and members disappear without a known identity. 

Requirements for Registration of a Cooperative Society

A license or Permit to operate a SACCO can be obtained from Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority. A SACCO shall not carry on the business of financial Services unless it is

  1.  A  registered society
  2. Licensed under the Act.

Prepare the necessary background and relevant information then fill up the appropriate application form as described by the Microfinance Regulatory Authority. The documents to be attached to the application form include:

  1. a certified copy of the certificate of registration issued under the Cooperative Societies Act;
  2. the organizational structure and management of the registered society;
  3. the business plan of the registered society;
  4. the credit policies and lending policies of the registered society.

After filling out the form proceed to pay the prescribed fee. Submit the duly filled-in form and attached it with the pay slip to the Finance Officer in charge of SACCO Registration.

Ensure that the application fee is submitted and all required information is included with the application.

Collect your SACCO License certificate from where your application was submitted within 21 days from the date the application was received at Microfinance Regulatory Authority in case there is no rejection.

Instructions To Register SACCO In Uganda

OFFENCES: The Computer Misuse (Amendment) Act 2022

The industrial age is done and we now live in the present digital age. You must have noticed that the generation that we live in today is practically a digital kingdom. Every household today will possess a computer, phone or digital device. With this fact, we are constantly transferring information daily with a simple double tap and click of the share button.

While this may be the world we live in today, the Ugandan Computer Misuse Act that was enacted in 2011 was drafted to enhance safety and security in our increasing digitalized environment through the prevention of unlawful access, abuse or misuse of information systems. Since then, the Computer (Amendment) Act 2022 has officially been passed into law. The Act promoter emphasized that the existing laws did not specifically address any regulations of information sharing on social media.

The need to amend the Computer Misuse Act, of 2011 rose due to advances in technology, an upsurge in cybercrime, and controversial provisions that rendered the law a tool for suppressing dissent.

The objectives of the amendment Act include;

i) To enhance the provisions on unauthorised access to information or data;
ii) Prohibit the sharing of any information relating to a child without authorisation from a parent or guardian;
iii) Prohibit the sending or sharing of information that promotes hate speech;
iv) Prohibit the sending or sharing of false, malicious and unsolicited information;
v) To restrict persons convicted of any offence under the Computer Misuse law from holding public office for 10 years.

“You are what you tweet.” 

Alex Tew, Founder & CEO of Calm

OFFENCES UNDER THE ACT.

An offence under this Act is committed when a person, without authorisation accesses or intercepts any program or data or video records, or voice or shares another person’s information that relates to that person commits an offence. This would mean that any tweet/retweet, share, or comment on any digital information without their permission would amount to an offence under the Act.

The Act also prohibits the unauthorised sharing of information about children. A person who wishes to share or transmit any information about a child on a computer must obtain consent from said child’s parent, guardian or any person having authority to make decisions on behalf of the child. This extends to social media as well.

Provisions in the Act tackle hate speech, providing that a person shall not write, send or share any information through a computer that is likely to ridicule, degrade, or demean another; creates division among persons; or promote hostility among the group of persons, tribe, ethnicity, religon or gender.

Sharing of unsolicited information, misleading or malicious information relating to that person is prohibited under the Act. Unsolicited information means information transmitted to a person using the internet without the person’s consent but does not include unsolicited commercial communication.

Cyber harassment is prohibited under the Act. The use of a computer for making any request, suggestion or proposal which is obscene, lewd, lascivious or indecent and threatening to inflict injury or physical harm to the person or property of any person or knowingly permitting any electronic communications device to be used for any of the purposes mentioned is cyber harassment.

Many concerns have arisen after the passing of the Act. The previous Act was used previously used to suppress digital rights including free expression and access to information which is a fundamental constitutional right. Despite this concern, the Act might be eminent to address the emerging technologies it seeks to address. Regardless like most laws passed only time will tell.

European Union’s resolution on EACOP Project

You might know a pipeline simply be a long pipe that runs underground for the sole purpose of conveying oil. The East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project is no different and started in 2006 when oil was first discovered in Uganda. The pipeline will transport oil produced from Uganda’s Lake Albert oil fields to Port Tanga in Tanzania where oil is to be sold to the would-be markets.

The completion of this pipeline gives East Africa an upper hand presenting them with opportunities to boost the economies of both Uganda and Tanzania, providing tax revenues for the two Host Governments, job creation, national content, new infrastructure, logistics, skills, foreign direct investment and enhancement of the trade corridor between Uganda and Tanzania.

The European Union parliament has recently condemned and urged Total Energies to postpone the project, to enable feasible studies to explore an alternative route to safeguard protected and sensitive ecosystems and the water resources of Uganda and Tanzania. Given the expectation that the oil transported will be permanently heated at about 50°C to transport, the EU has argued that this will make it the longest heated pipeline in the world causing fears of increased violation of human rights and a risk of poisoning Uganda’s water bodies and wetlands causing a dent in our environment.

This pipeline would transport 200,000 barrels of oil per day and generate up to 34 million tons of carbon emissions each year. While their arguments and fears may be valid, however, the question that remains to be answered is whether the European Union has a valid say in the affairs of African countries. 

It is very rare for a child of God to find gold and crude oil on the floor to fetch. He/she must dig and dig deeply well!

Israelmore Ayivore

The resolution arises after continued protests from several Environmental Activists against the project. President Museveni stated that the project will continue despite the European Union’s resolution. The resolution may have a massive effect on the social-economic growth of both Uganda and Tanzania. This includes a loss of job opportunities that were promised to several people and a decrease in investments. For the EU to have such a massive influence on the decisions that affect Africa’s economy is questionable given that both states are fully independent and able to address their internal processes. This decision carries the following implications;

i) In 1062, resolution 1803 passed by the United Nations general assembly gave countries permanent sovereignty over their natural resources. Every country after this was allowed to explore and utilize its natural resources as they deemed fit. The current resolution made by the European Union against the EACOP project is a violation of this right to sovereignty and freedom to their natural resources for their social-economic growth.

ii) The argument that the pipeline will have great environmental implications is quite invalid, given that majority of the global gas emissions is present within more developed countries than in Africa. This shows that this is a direct frustration of the project.

iii) The countries involved, that is Uganda and Tanzania, need to pursue measures that place the EU’s fears to rest providing for technical ways to ensure environmental management to avoid any environmental issues that may arise. 

iv) A definite setback is bound to occur incase Uganda or international companies that have committed to invest in the projects withdraw. It’s important to note that this decision is not binding but if any game players decide to comply, that would delay any processes that have started.

We do not agree with this decision, and to give our country a fighting chance to overturn this resolution and place the reins back in our hands we call you to sign the following petition below:

Denounce EU Parliament Resolution to halt EACOP! | SumOfUs Petitions

How to adopt a child in Uganda

It is said that in every person’s life, there is always a family we have, and a family we choose. Ideally, your natural family is one of the families we don’t get to choose. Legally, however, a family or individual may have the opportunity to defy these odds through adoption or guardianship.

Adoption is the legal process where a person permanently assumes parental rights and responsibilities for a child from his or her biological parents.

Guardianship, on the other hand, is the process whereby a person is appointed by the court to take care of a child, with this, they acquire temporary parental rights and responsibilities.

Credit: Pixabay

 “Adoption – because family isn’t made from blood, it’s made from love.”

Unknown

Who can Adopt?

Adopting a child may be simple enough on paper, however, the law presents a few conditions that allow a prospective parent to adopt. These are; 

A. Citizen Adoption 

i) A person at the age of 25 years can adopt a child however a prospective parent must be 21 years older than the child to gain custody. 

ii) A prospective adoptive parent must have fostered the child for at least 36 months under the supervision of a probation officer. 

iii) In circumstances where the prospective adoptive parents are a couple, they must be able to adopt a child jointly.

iv) A single parent can also adopt a child however, they are not allowed to adopt one of the opposite sex save for exceptional circumstances. 

v) Prospective adoptive parents must be in good physical and mental health as determined by a medical practitioner.

B. Foreign Adoption

i) For a foreigner to adopt a child, the prospective parent must have fostered the child for at least 36 months while in Uganda under the supervision of a Probation Officer.

ii) A foriegn adoptive parent must;

a) Have no criminal record 

b) Have been approved by their country of nationality to adopt

c) They must possess proof that their country will respect the Ugandan adoption Order.

d) Must meet the same requirements for adoption as a citizen.

CONSENTS

A prospective parent will require the following consent before they are allowed to adopt a child;

 a) Under circumstances where a child’s parents are; known, alive, of sound mind and can be found, consent must be given for the said child to be adopted. 

b) Children who are of 14 years and above must also consent to the adoption. 

c) A child or parent is at liberty to withdraw their consent to adoption before the adoption order is made. They are also allowed to challenge said adoption in circumstances where consent wasn’t obtained legally. 

ADOPTION ORDER

The adoption order must be registered with the Office of the Registrar General, Probation office and National Council for Children. Where the prospective parent is a foreigner, the court will order that the Adoption Order be registered with the Embassy of Uganda in the country of the adoptive parents. 

Bankruptcy in Uganda

If you have ever been broke, you may understand the concept of bankruptcy. While these two terms of brokeness and bankruptcy are different and yet are in most cases the same. A state of bankruptcy is created when you are unable (not in a financial position) to pay your debts. This is not a term one can pose on themselves lightly.

In reality, it is up to a court to decide whether an individual is bankrupt or not. In such an instance, the court will declare that said person cannot clear/pay their debts and meet their financial obligations. There is a misconception that when one is declared bankrupt then they would automatically be exempt from their debts. Like a free pass. Now, this may seem like the perfect dream it is absolutely untrue.  No, bankruptcy only allows bankrupt individuals the liberty to pay off their debt in their own time as they would have no alternative avenues to do so at that time.

Credit: differencebetween

It is said that the world is in a state of banckruptcy, that the world owes the world more than the world can pay

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Bankruptcy is not a private affair. Once an application for bankruptcy is made, it is required that all creditors are informed of your status. This is done through a public notice such as a newspaper. It is also required by law that once a person is declared bankrupt, they would not withhold this information from the public as this would mislead them.

Once the court has declared a person bankrupt, a court order known as a bankruptcy order is issued. This order carries the following implications;

i) The court shall appoint an official receiver who will take over management on behalf of one who’s been declared bankrupt. An official receiver is vital at the initial stages of a bankruptcy order as they will take over the property and assess how debts are to be paid. To do this, all creditors are called to discuss a way forward.

ii) All property will be transferred into the names of the official receiver. This is not a transfer of title, however, this step makes it easier for property to be sold off to settle the debt. This also means that one would lose total control of their property in such a situation.

Not all property is meant to be sold to settle debt and the court is at liberty to order this. These include;

a) Matrimonial home

b) Clothing

c) Property held in trust by the bankrupt

Can a person who is bankrupt acquire property?

One may be concerned about whether they may still be able to acquire property after being declared bankrupt. The assumption would be that they wouldn’t, however, a bankrupt person is allowed to acquire property by buying it, through inheritance or even a gift. Though this is a privilege they still possess, the condition would be that they would acquire said property through a Trustee. Once this happens, the bankrupt must inform his trustee that there has been an increase in his income and has been able to acquire property. Withholding this information from a trustee will be considered an offence.

The Lady Of Justice

Perhaps you were, strolling the online express, reading a book or magazine, travelling aboard and passed a statue or simply watching your favourite TV Show, chances are you’ve seen her image and you’ve never bothered to ask yourself the question, the question whose answer is one the strongest and highly revered symbology and representations of the law   “THE LADY OF JUSTICE”. But who or what is the meaning of this historic icon?

The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

Martin Luther King

To understand this, we must go back to an ancient time or to be more precise ancient Greece between 700-480 B.C. The Greeks were one of the civilizations that were very big on law and justice and regarded law as being closely related to both justice and ethics. In those times, the law gradually developed as a system under which parties were denied the right to seek the realization of their claims by private force and compelled to submit their cases to authorities designated and empowered to try the claims and hand down binding judgments.

Litigants(Counsel in present-day), are believed to have been forged by an ever-increasing pressure of public opinion to refrain from armed feud and blood vengeance and to seek the decision of the princes who by virtue of their social and personal preponderance were predestined to act as arbitrators(Present-day Judges and Magistrates)

But let’s turn our attention back to the  Lady of Justice. The Romans referred to her as “Justitia” while the Greeks referred to her as “Themis”. In her depiction, she is noted to be in an Elegant white silk one sleeve shoulder dress, holding in her left hand a two-tray scale which she uses to balance the truth of justice, and in her right hand, an arming sword. She is also wearing a blindfold covering her eyes but I don’t think she is facing a firing squad. The items/ symbols that embody the Lady Justice aren’t just for show, each of these items/ symbols has its own significant and unique meaning;

The Two Tray Scale of Justice

These represent impartiality and the obligation of the law through its spokeswomen to weigh the evidence presented to the court. If the scales tip up, then the evidence brought against the accused is not sufficient or heavy enough to justify the crime and thus the individual/individuals are and or innocent.

But if the scales tip down then the evidence is indeed heavy and sufficient enough to justify the crime and punishment for the accused.

The Arming Sword

This item symbolizes enforcement and respect and means that justice stands by its decision and ruling, the sword also symbolizes that justice is a double-edged blade and can both pierce and cut through any veil to arrive at the truth. The fact that the sword is unsheathed and very visible is a sign that justice is transparent and is not an implement of fear.

The Blindfold

This particular item/symbol is truly special because it shows that even without sight, justice is never blind to the truth and nothing or no one can escape its sight. It represents impartiality and objectivity of the law. It doesn’t let outside factors such as politics, wealth, or fame influence its decisions.

An interesting fact is when addressing a female judge amongst the common law system she is usually referred to as “Her Lady Justice”.  

The Lady of Justice is depicted in various artworks from paintings to sculptures, coats of arms or metal statues. These can be seen in a number of countries throughout the globe- Africa, the Middle East, Southern and Eastern Asia Europe etc. You will find it in front of London’s central criminal court, Frankfurt am main Germany, the Palace of justice in Rome Italy and over the gates that give access to the central courtyard of Dublin Castle in Ireland where you will see her gleaming statues.  But perhaps the most infamous country to portray her image is the United States of America where you find the Lady of Justice statue in courthouses, law offices and legal educational institutions and most notable of these is the statue at the Supreme Court of the U.S.A.

The importance of the Lady Justice goes back many thousands of years, and still to date the Lady Justice continues to be an important figure for justice systems all over the world and is ever serving as a reminder of the ideals and values fundamental to the law 

And as such, the significance of the Lady of Justice has since the beginning of its foundation shone and continues to shine her commitment to the pursuit of the ends of justice, and behind her all officers, judges, leaders and litigants of law order and justice rally for the greater good of all Humanity.

The Author of this Article is Paul Muranga, a Legal Assistant working with ABM and Co Advocates. He aims to achieve a legendary foot print in this Nation’s history by exploiting his strong points and talents, to become a great lawyer, humbly serve the Judiciary.

He has a bucket list…yes he does and he aims to cross off all the ticks on that bucket list.

His vision is to strongly impact on my generation, the current generation and all those to come. Clearly we will be seeing a lot from this young man. Stay tuned!!

How to know your family needs a lawyer?

If you are anything like me, you may be wondering what family law truly entails, after all, a family should be pretty simple. An “ideal family’ consists of a mother, father, and probably two children, however, we must note that most people in Uganda alone do not experience this particular form of family.

The Objective XIX of the National Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy in the 1995 Constitution of Uganda (as amended) defines a family as the natural and basic unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State and further goes on to highlight the rights a family has under Article 31.

Disagreements are common with every relationship and a family is no exception. Family Law can be defined as the portion of the law that governs the relationships between children and parents, and between adults in close emotional relationships.

Credit: Unsplash

Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family

Anthony Brandt

While family law in Uganda covers all aspects that concerns a family and all disputes that may arise in between, it is easy to think that Family Law is simply limited to marriage and succession.

Contrary to what many may think, there are so many parts of the law that can affect a family and its respective relationships ranging from land disputes to taxation. The trick to finding out whether your query or concern falls under this particular branch of law is pretty simple. Here are a few things that are tackled under family law.

Marriage

Marriage is one of the most common sections of family law. The 1995 Constitution of Uganda states that a person of the age of 18 years and above has a right to marry and found a family and the pair are entitled to equal rights in marriage, during the marriage, and at its dissolution.

The decision to marry is very separate from the decision to live together and bear children together. A legal marriage under the laws of Uganda offers a couple of different rights that simple cohabitation would not. These include a right to inheritance, property, and family maintenance.

These rights are only given when a couple has married under the acceptable and legal forms of marriage in Uganda.
These include;
I) Customary Marriage
II) Civil Marriage
III) Islamic Marriage

It is important to note that cohabitation (where man and woman live together without going through any of the legally recognised marriages) is not recognised as a valid form of marriage in Uganda.

Credit: Ntwaaka

Separation and Divorce

If you have gone through a divorce, you might have an inkling of what separation feels like. While the idea is that a couple will live happily ever after, the reality is that sometimes these relationships do not last. Now you may wonder what the difference between a separation and divorce is.

A separation does not end a marriage, but only suspends certain rights of the husband and the wife. The husband and wife are still considered to be married and neither of them can marry another person during the separation. In modern terms, a separation would be considered as ‘taking a break.’

A divorce on the other hand is a permanent dissolution of a marriage. It only applies to legally recognised marriages and its procedure depends on the type of marriage the parties had.

Whether a couple chooses a divorce or a separation, a permanent or temporary ending of a relationship can be a painful process especially if children are involved. In divorce proceedings more specifically, the custody of children and dissolution of property is up for discussion.

Credit: Usatoday

Custody and Maintenance

Children are a blessing to any family, this being so, they are one subject that is bound to be contentious. Article 257(c) of the Constitution and Section 2 of the Children ActCap 59 defines a child as a person below the age of eighteen years. This being said, family law will encompass all aspects of a child’s well-being, this includes custody and maintenance of a child.

Custody concerns the legal rules governing the right of children regarding whom to live with and maintenance is the right children have to know and be cared for by their parents or those entitled by law to bring them up. This is a question that will arise during a separation or divorce.

Credit: ACERWC

Adoption

Adoptions refer to the legal and formal acceptance of another’s natural or biological child as their own, with the same rights and responsibilities attached thereto as if the child were your natural child, both in terms of child support and standing in intestates. This section is self-explanatory.

To adopt a child however comes with several prerequisites which include:
I) Age of applicant
II) Spousal consent
III) sex of the applicant

Of course, the dynamics of adoption are quite wide but in case you are looking to give a child a new home, a family lawyer would be the best person to hire.

Credit: Pagesix- Angelina Jolie and her adopted child, Zahara

Succession

Death is inevitable, and so the law of succession deals with the devolution and transmission of the estate of a deceased person. There are three types of succession under the law;

I) Testate succession which means the deceased left a will and valid testament of dissolution of their property.
II) Intestate succession where the deceased died without a will.
III) Partly testate and partly intestate succession.

In situations where there is a will, a will’s validity may be contested. It is easy to think that once a deceased has left instructions, then the rest would be smooth sailing. Unfortunately, if this was the case then we would be out of business.

It is all about a better measure for family!