Frustrated by the poor attendance of plenary by Members of Parliament, the Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah made a directive that all committees should stop business until the house has completed passing the 2014/2015 budget.
Moses Mulondo and Henry Ssekanjako
Frustrated by the poor attendance of plenary by Members of Parliament, the Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah yesterday made a directive that all committees should stop business until the house has completed passing the 2014/2015 budget.
For a parliament of 375 MPs, Oulanyah entered parliament chambers to start yesterday’s plenary when there were only five MPs which was not so different from the number of six MPs he started with on Monday.
In the recent past, it has increasingly become hard for both the plenary and parliament committees to have quorum as most MPs don’t turn up.
Sometime back the NRM chief whip threatened that she would always be registering MPs who attend plenary and take action against those who dodge but it worked temporarily and they relapsed back into the mode of absenteeism.
The concern about the poor turn up of MPs in the plenary was raised by the Butambala MP Muwanga Kivumbi who requested Oulanyah to invoke his powers and halt all committee meetings.
In his response, Oulanyah said, “At the beginning of this session I made a directive that all committees should be halted until we have passed the budget. If there are committees which are meeting, they are defying my directive.”
Many MPs The New Vision talked to confessed that a big number of their colleagues spend most of their time in their constituencies preparing for the next elections.
Kitugum woman MP Beatrice Anywar said, “MPs including President Yoweri Museveni are moving around in constituencies preparing themselves to win the next elections.
That is why the turn up is poor.”
The Buvuma MP Robert Migadde said, “Uganda is among the few countries where campaigning is continuous. As soon as you are sworn in, people in your constituency start campaigning to take your seat.”
Migadde also observed that the perception by voters that good MPs are those who are always with them in the constituencies also affects the turn up in plenary.
“That perception forces many MPs to spend more time in the constituencies and less time in parliament debates,” Migadde elaborated.
Opposition chief whip Cecelia Ogwal attributed the poor turn up to committee work.
“I hope the speaker’s directive to halt committee will make a difference because many MPs have been absent in plenary attending committee meetings. Most committees have a backlog of reports which they have to clear,” she explained.
MPs’ absenteeism irks Oulanyah