Just recently, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, raised concern that the quality of debate of our Members of Parliament (MPs) had gone down. This came at a time when many Ugandans had questioned the overall performance of MPs, accusing them of greed – only working to satisfy themselves, Writes Solomon Lubambula.
Oulanyah and many other Ugandans are not happy with the way the MPs stand in the August House only to present statements not backed up by research, as if they were in a political rally back in their respective constituencies.
Given the importance of the Legislature in determining the pace of social, economic and political transformation of society, we urgently need means to sort out this challenge of our time, of a Parliament performing below expectations.
My lawyer-friend Nicholas Opio says that just a few of the MPs make use of the research facilities provided at Parliament including the research department and a well stocked library. With such facilities, as affirmed by Parliament’s Public Affairs Manager Hellen Kaweesa, MPs are expected to be well informed.
Opio says that MPs take almost half their first term in office learning how to execute the tasks before them. One suggestion is to extend their tenure in office from five to more years. Would this help? Maybe!
Today the Chambers which were designed for 60 MPs accommodate 386. The size of the Cabinet has also grown to surprising numbers. The other suggestion Opio gives is to form a two-tier Parliament just like in the US and the UK.
The Youth, represented in Parliament as a special group, have gone as far as suggesting that their slots be scrapped, or have the constitution reviewed to have youth representatives elected through adult suffrage as opposed to electoral colleges. This view is being fronted by the Conservative Party.
But what should we really do? I think the public should fully understand and appreciate the key roles of their MPs and that is to legislate, give oversight to government programs, budget as well as carry their voters’ views.
Instead of voting people with the best dancing strokes, beautiful faces on campaign posters, or those who offer pots of Malwa (local brew), voters should chose the right brains. Certainly we are not gifted in the same way. Abilities differ. As some MPs do their job as expected, others are found lacking in many aspects.