Parliament has again rapped members of the Executive for continued absentia without prior notice during plenary sittings; a habit that it says stalls House business to the detriment of the people the two institutions serve.
The outrage was triggered during the December 1, plenary session during which several Ministers were supposed to present statements, move motions and respond to urgent questions raised by MPs but they were a no show in the House.
The Deputy Speaker Anita Among said she was disappointed that Parliament has severally complained about Ministers’ absentia without prior communication to the Speaker which slows the progress of work in the House.
The Minister for Presidency, Milly Babalanda was supposed to present a statement on the commemoration of World AIDS Day but instead delegated the Minister for Kampala Capital City and Metropolitan affairs, Minsa Kabanda to present the Statement on her behalf.
Among stopped Kabanda from making the statement on grounds that she is not the Minister for Presidency.
Efforts by the Third Deputy Prime Minister, Rukia Nakadama to inform Parliament that Kabanda was one of the Ministers from the Office of the President were futile because Among was not notified.
The Minister for Finance, Matia Kasaija was also supposed to move a motion for a resolution of Parliament to authorize the Government to borrow about $90m from the International Development Association of the World Bank Group to finance the Uganda Secondary School Education Expansion Project (USSEEP) but he instead delegated the Education Ministry to present the statement on his behalf as he was away in another meeting.
Among told the House that the Order Paper was uploaded in time to allow members to familiarize themselves and be able to attend to matters arising. She added that it’s the reason she keeps advising the Prime Minister to ensure that Ministers are in the House because their absence affects the smooth running of the plenary.
“The Order Paper was uploaded yesterday and the perception is that everyone had access to it. It is a total contempt of Parliament for you not to come and respond to what is on the Order Paper,” She said.
Kabanda committed to informing the Minister to be available the following day to move the motion on the floor of Parliament and allow for the Committee on Finance to also present their report.
Also absent to respond to Urgent questions on the recurrent fatalities from the bomb explosions in Nakaseke District, including one that claimed the lives of three children in Semuto, Nakaseke District on October 29, 2021, and the need for compensation of the affected families, was the Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen. Kahinda Otaffire.
The Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga tasked Nakadama to make a commitment that whenever Ministers are not around, they can ask the Speaker to suspend the House to allow them to do other business in committees instead of wasting time and taxpayers’ money.
“In a very worrying way we are losing time as Parliament and before we know it, this House is going to be half empty with members going in for games and the Holiday is coming in close. That is why I resisted the postponement of the statement on the COVID19 surge. The Front Bench is actually sleeping on duty and they want us to sleep with them on duty. I will not accept that. The Front bench should be notified that we are not going to join them in wasting time and taxpayers’ money,” said Mpuuga.
In the recent past Among was forced to prematurely suspend the House because several Ministers were not present to respond to matters that were being raised by MPs.
Among reiterated that there is an aspect of notification to the Speaker in the Rules of Procedure and that she was not notified. She said that the continued absentia of Ministers from the House was a lack of respect for Parliament and demanded that the Members respect each other.