By Prof. Sudi Nangoli
In the world of communication, the Gazette is like a guiding light, responsible for officially publishing a wide range of important items.
In 2020, the Ministry for the Presidency through the line minister then introduced a detailed statutory instrument, covering almost 500 items and matters that must be officially published in the Uganda Gazette by Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation (UPPC).
These include various government laws, official papers, and private documents.
This information not only reveals what should be published in the Gazette but also explores why it’s crucial and the possible consequences if this process is neglected.
What Needs to be Published in the Gazette?
The statutory instrument shows the diverse materials meant for Gazette publication. Besides legal texts, the UPPC through the Uganda Gazette publishes crucial information related to government affairs.
This includes electoral notices, which detail polling schedules, vacant positions, election officials’ details, and electoral results. Essentially, the Gazette acts as a record-keeper, capturing the essence of democratic processes.
Gazetting is vital for maintaining transparency and accountability in government. By making laws, regulations, and important decisions accessible to the public, the Gazette helps create an informed citizenry.
Gazetting goes beyond mere legal compliance; it serves as a powerful tool for democratic engagement, ensuring citizens are aware of crucial information that directly affects their lives.
Many laws mandate the Gazetting of notices about appointments or retirements of individuals in high-ranking positions. This responsibility falls on the ministry, agency, department, institution, or local government issuing the notice.
The regulations also cover the appointment of cabinet ministers, chairpersons, and members of various bodies, agencies, commissions, boards, and heads of entities like the police, Bank of Uganda, Director of Public Prosecutions, and local government political leaders. Traditional and cultural leaders’ institutions are also included.
Apart from these requirements, different Ministries, Departments, and Agencies must publish various notices according to specific laws.
The law specifies the conditions for Gazetting and designates the entity responsible for such publication. Entities like the First Parliamentary Council and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs are required to sanction bills and acts discussed and passed by the house to be Gazetted by the UPPC.
Certain legal provisions state that even after a Bill becomes an Act following presidential assent, it cannot be enforced until officially gazetted.
Other important notices, like those from the Administrator General, are also subject to Gazetting.
The Gazette also features private legal notices, including bankruptcies, company registrations and closures, probate proceedings, company by-laws, and changes in names (deed polls).
Professional bodies like the Law Council, Engineers Board, Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda, Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Council, etc., are obligated to gazette the names and addresses of their registered professionals. Professionals who haven’t been officially gazetted are barred from practicing in their specific fields.
If discovered, they may face legal proceedings and potential penalties as outlined in the relevant laws. Neglecting the need to Gazette has serious implications. The failure to publish designated items not only breaks the law but also undermines the foundations of an open and accountable government.
The absence of Gazetted information can lead to a lack of awareness among the public, hindering their ability to understand, critique, and participate in governance.
Furthermore, specific legal provisions state that certain actions, like enforcing bills-turned-acts after presidential assent depend on official Gazetting. Neglecting this critical step could render legislative measures ineffective, creating a gap between legal enactment and practical implementation.
For private legal notices, not complying with Gazetting requirements could disrupt legal processes, potentially harming the rights and interests of individuals and entities involved.
The author is the UPPC Managing Director