By Saasi Marvin
I’ve received lots of messages from the People Power family requesting for clarification about the alleged ban on Red Berets by the Minister of Defence “because they are now considered a Property of the State”. Apparently, “anybody found putting on one will be Court Martial-ed and imprisoned for life”.
My view is that this ‘ban’ is Illegal, void ab initio, and unenforceable by law. The Minister has neither express nor implied authority under the UPDF Act 2005 to declare the red beret “a property of the State”.
The Gazette Notice in which the Minister purported to communicate the ban states that the Notice was made under Section 160 of the UPDF Act 2005. When you read this Section, it says that the Minister has authority to declare and make known “what MARKS when applied to any … clothing … shall denote those marks as Property of State”. Fullstop. Sec. 160(2) of the Act declares it an offence for anyone to unlawfully receive, possess, sell or deliver any … clothing … bearing any mark referred to in Sec. 160(1) and that any person who contravenes this provision is liable to suffer imprisonment for life.
The logical interpretation of Section 160 is that the Minister only has authority to declare what marks (e.g. the UPDF Logo, emblems, etc) are considered to be a property of the State. It does not give the Minister any power to declare any piece of cloth or “uniform” or “accessory” (such as the Red Beret) to be a property of the State.
The Minister can only declare certain emblems or logos (“marks”) to be properties of the State when they are fixed on a red beret, but not the entire red beret as a piece of clothing or an accessory. In other words, if I have my red beret and I emboss the UPDF logo/emblem on it, that becomes an offence.
But if I get my red beret and I emboss on it People Power’s logo/emblem (“mark”), that red beret cannot be claimed to be a property of the State because the People Power logo does not belong to the UPDF.
The purported gazette-ment of the red beret as a UPDF Uniform or accessory is what lawyers would call ‘ultra vires’. The Doctrine of ‘Ultra Vires’ declares to be invalid, void and illegal anything that is done outside the authority conferred upon someone by law.
The gazette-ment of People Power’s red beret is an example of Ultra Vires for reasons I have already given above.
This is my opinion as Saasi Marvin. I believe that People Power’s legal department headed by comrade Katana Benjamin is preparing a formal communication on this issue. #PeoplePower_OurPower
Saasi Marvin is a lawyer and Deputy Team Leader of People Power Youth Wing.
This article was picked from the facebook wall of Mityana Municipality legislator Francis Zaake
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