Records from the Hansard show that during the first seven months of the 2nd session of Parliament, 107 MPs had not said a word on the floor of Parliament and 65 of them had only spoken once in the first 35 sittings.
The Parliament Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, will this week name and shame absentee ministers and MPs who have perennially missed plenary and committee sittings.
Kadaga said this while holding a live Tweet Chat in her boardroom at Parliament yesterday to discuss about the performance of the House in the 2nd session ending in June, Kadaga said she spent the weekend preparing the list of absentees and will this week issue letters to the affected members.
“During the weekend, I was working on the list of absentees, so letters are going to be issued out to different MPs and ministers, who do not attend plenary and committees. I have worked on it and the letters are coming out this week,” Kadaga said.
Kadaga said: “Last month, I was irked by the perennial absenteeism of MPs and vowed to name and shame them.”
“It annoys when the ministers and MPs clock in the Parliament digital machine, they sit in for 5 minutes and go for other businesses. The same applies to committees, they just sign in the attendance books and go for private businesses,” added kadaga.
“I have noted with concern line ministers of government Ministries and Agencies (MDAs) missing committee and Parliament plenaries without genuine reasons. This affects Parliament business,” an angry Kadaga said.
On April 24, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah expressed dismay by cabinet ministers who skip House business, thus paralyzing Parliamentary activities.
That was after the plenary was hardly attended by cabinet ministers when the Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa was forced to respond to all issues in the absence of the line ministers.
Kadaga said whereas House attendance is paramount for MPs, legislators’ contributions on the floor of Parliament is also vital in reviewing their performance.
Records from the Hansard show that during the first seven months of the 2nd session of Parliament, 107 MPs had not said a word on the floor of Parliament and 65 of them had only spoken once in the first 35 sittings. Kadaga says she cannot go overboard to try to force any members to speak.
Asked how she ensures equality while choosing MPs to speak on the floor of Parliament, Kadaga said: “What I try to do is that if I have got one group speaking today, then I try to ensure that another group is selected to speak so that everybody has an opportunity. But if you do not stand up to catch up the eye of the Speaker, then I can’t pick you. I go on to others because in Parliament, you have to stand up to indicate that you want to speak. So if you do not stand up, I leave you,” Kadaga said.
She said this 2nd session has been characterized more by the issue of representation in that members have asked many issues, for example 58 statements were made by ministers mainly in response to demands by members on different subjects.
“Legislators have also been active by moving many motions. Actually, there are 6 proposals for private member’s bills and also motions for resolutions of many issues such as security, sugar prices, fuel, unemployment among others,” Kadaga said.
Kadaga added that two bills including as Anti-Counterfeit Bill and PWDs Bill have been an issue of frustration.
The Anti-Counterfeit Bill was first introduced in the 9th Parliament and withdrawn in the same parliament. It was reintroduced in the 10th Parliament and again withdrawn in January this year. Kadaga also admitted that Parliament has been a bit slow on a number of Bill such as the Civil Aviation Bill, Data Protection Bill, Mental Health Bill among others which are all still in process.
Currently, Parliament has handled 6 bills and Kadaga is hopeful that by end of this session in June, more 7 bills will have been handled, including Succession Bill, Sexual Offence Bill and Marriage and Divorce.