THE 2010 parliamentary scorecard, a tool used to rate the performance of MPs, is out. It shows that the opposition MPs and independents generally outshone the NRM legislators.
By Barbara Among
Rose Akol Okullu (NRM), Chris Byaromunsi (NRM), William Okecho (Independent), Stephen Tashobya (NRM) Willy Anokbonggo (UPC) and Tress Bucyanayandi (Independent) were among the best performing MPs in the period 2009 to 2010, according to a think-tank.
In a report to be released in Kampala today, the African Leadership Institute assessed the MPs on their contribution in terms of their attendance of parliamentary business, as well as how influential they are in committee and plenary debates.
The MPs are also rated in terms of their participation in their constituencies, how often they attend district council meetings, how accessible they are to voters by telephone, and whether they have an office or staff in the constituency.
Accordingly, the best four performing MPs in the plenary were Denis Hamson Obua (NRM), John Odit (UPC), Kaddunabbi Lubega Ibrahim (NRM) and Peter Nyombi (Independent).
The best committee chairpersons were Tashobya Stephen (NRM), Regan Okumu (FDC), NRM legislators Mathias Kasamba, Edward Baliddawa Kafufu, Deusdedit Bikwasizehi, James Kubeketerya, Kaddunabbi Lubega, Nathan Byanyima and Tindamanyire Kabondo, also NRM.
For the first time, the study also assessed the performance of ministers and shadow ministers at the constituency level. Emmanuel Otaala topped this area, followed by Bright Rwamirama, Gabriel Opio, Simon Ejua and Musa Ecweru among others. Shadow cabinet ministers Beti Kamya and Patrick Amuriat, both FDC, also shone in their constituencies.
For the second year running, MPs were each asked to assess the performance of 20 colleagues in terms of quality, analysis, teamwork, oversight, intra-party influence and public conduct. Khiddu Makubuya (NRM) and Adolf Mwesige topped this category. They were followed by Beatrice Byenka, Fred Omach and Daudi Migereko, all of them NRM. Sammy Loote Ogwel, Anthony Yiga and FDCâ€™s Beatrice Anywar were also fairly rated. The worst performers here were Godi Akbar (FDC) and Kasule Robert Ssebunya and Phinehas Katirima for the army.
In terms of gender, men performed marginally better than their female counterparts. Among the MPs elected by universal adult suffrage, women performed better than men. The report, which covers the period between July 2008 and July 2009, said women narrowed down the gap and in some cases, outperformed men in the plenary.
Constituency MPs performed particularly better than those for special interest groups. Army MPs fared worst in this regard as they did generally across the board. They were closely followed by ministers.
For the back-benchers, the worst performers are Nulu Byamukama, Sarah Kayagi, Margaret Nalugo, Rhoda Acen and Tomson Kyahurwenda, all from the ruling NRM party.
Some MPs who fared badly last year remained at the bottom. They are Peter Bakaluba Mukasa and Lubyayi Iddi Kisiki, both NRM. Mukasa recently lost his seat to Betty Nambooze (DP) in a by-election.
As was the case last year, the report said parliamentary business is dominated by a small number of MPs, often leaders of their parties. But in the plenary (full house debates), the back-benchers dominated proceedings, a departure from last yearâ€™s results.
In comparative terms, opposition leaders scored almost twice as much as government leaders. However, government leaders were more influential.
Attendance of plenary sittings increased to between 52% from last years 45%. Nevertheless only six MPs attended 85% of sittings. Out of 333 MPs, only 160 attended over half of the plenary sittings. Five did not attend any. It said 17 MPs did not speak at all, while 95% said just one line last year.
Average plenary participation continues also to increase. It was 356 lines in 2006 â€“ 2007, about 616 lines in 2007 â€“ 2008 and to 820 lines in 2008 â€“ 2009. Average debate influence is also on the increase: 287 lines in 2006 â€“ 2007, 927 in 2007 â€“ 2008, and 1915 in 2008 â€“ 2009. This shows that MPs participate and engage one another in more systematic ways each year.
Average committee attendance was 44%, but there was variance among committees, with average individual committee attendance ranging from 61% (infrastructure) to 19% (government assurances). While average attendance has increased from last year (40%), the highest committee attendance this year (61%) is lower than last year (79%).
It notes that while committee attendance is increasing, committee participation is decreasing. Average participation in 2007 â€“ 2008 was 213 and this year it is slightly lower at 202 lines.
The MPs are becoming more accessible to their constituency, according to the report. Accessibility increased to 82% from 70% last year. However, nearly a third of the MPs did not have an office in their constituency.
The MPs get sh10b every year from the Government to facilitate development in their constituency. Although they are required to account for the cash, 70 of the 315 MPs who received the money in 2008 â€“ 2009 failed to do so. This is much worse than was the case in 2007 â€“ 2008 when only 13 failed.
In this session, 19 Bills were initiated by 11 NRM MPs. This is a decrease from the 2007 â€“ 2008 session in which 25 Bills were brought to the floor by 13 NRM MPs.
Opposition and government MPs performed equally in terms of influencing the plenary debate, but Independents outperformed both groups in this area. There are 40 Independents, or MPs who do not belong to any party. Some Independents are, however, closely linked to the NRM and the opposition.
â€œFrom last year, Parliament has seen an increase in the performance of Independent MPs, while the Government continues to be the worst of the three groups, on average,â€ said the report.
The assessment, called the Parliamentary Scorecard, is the fourth since its inception. It said the NRM outshone all other parties at the constituency level. While the opposition beat the NRM in the plenary, they were at par in parliamentary committees.
However, the NRM was more influential than the opposition. MP Kaddunabi Lubega was the most influential, followed by Hamson Obua, both NRM. An Independent, Peter Nyombi, came third, followed by Sarah Mpabwa (UPDF) and Sam Njuba (FDC).
On performance by region, northern topped the plenary, followed by the east. The central and west tailed. MPs from the east performed best in committees, but tied with the central in the constituency.
Although in the main areas of assessment, the east, west and central were neck-and-neck, the north fell far below other regions in terms of constituency participation.
Best and worst legislators named