The House sat with the Speaker Rt. Hon. Anitah Among presiding. To kickstart the debate of the day was Adjumani Woman MP Jesca Ababiku who raised a matter of National Importance regarding the poor implementation of USMID projects in Municipalities. In her communication, she commended the chairpersons of sectoral committees who were able to process reports on the Ministerial Policy Statements and Budget Estimates in time despite the challenges. She however was disappointed with the Ministry of Lands whom she accused of delaying the implementation of this programme because of delays to approve designs for the roads to be constructed in the selected municipalities.

In response Hon. Nathan Byanyima (Bukanga North, Isingiro, NRM) said “A good chunk of money has been sunk [under USMID), but every municipality is complaining of shoddy works. The workmanship is so poor. Talk of Masaka, Mbale, Arua, Gulu etc”. Contributing to the issue, the LOP Hon. Mathias Mpuuga told the house that one of the causes of shoddy work is that committees of Parliament have been disabled as they cannot do field visits and oversight in areas where work is done because there is no resources for committee fieldwork.

The 3rd Deputy Prime Minister Rukia Nakadama said some good work has been registered in some Municipalities like Kamuli. “Where there are shoddy works, we shall take it up and ensure that work is improved”, she said.

In response, Speaker Anitah Among said, “Let Government go and assess all works in Cities and Municipalities and report back to the House. Where there is a problem, they must take an action”. The Minister of State for Lands, Hon. Sam Mayanja in responding to the matter requested 10 days such that he can come back and give a statement on the matter raised. However, the Speaker insisted that the ministry of lands presents a statement to the house next week on Tuesday.  

Next, the Minister of Local Government Raphael Magyezi laid on the table the Policy Framework Paper for the Parish Development Model. the Speaker encouraged MPs to read and conceptualize it before it is discussed on the floor of Parliament at a later time.

The House then went on to receive a Statement (attached) from the Minister for East African Community Affairs Rebecca Kadaga on the Admission of DR Congo into the EAC. She said that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) through a note verbale dated 4th June 2019 submitted an application to join the East African Community. She said that the 21st Ordinary Summit of EAC Heads of State held on 27th February 2021 considered the application and directed the EAC Council of Ministers to expeditiously undertake a Verification Mission.

Later, the 45th Extra-Ordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers held on 20th December 2021, received, considered and forwarded to the Summit of EAC Heads of State the report of the Verification Team. Subsequently, the 19th Extra-Ordinary Summit of the East African Community Heads of State held via video Conference on 29th March 2022, admitted the Democratic Republic of Congo as a full member of the East African Community.

Rt. Hon. Kadaga said that the admission of DRC into the EAC has a range of benefits & implications. “The EAC will have a combined population of over 300m people that provides an expanded market with opportunities to produce & sell goods & services.” She added that the EAC will have global connectivity from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. This will support the existing trade corridors in the movement of goods and people into the hinterland of the Community.

For Uganda to tap into this opportunity there is a need for quick and targeted investment in roads and related infrastructure. She also noted that since the Treaty of Accession had been signed, DRC will commence internal processes beginning with the domestication of the EAC Treaty and Ratification of the various protocols, & thereafter, will deposit with the EAC Secretary Gen the Instruments of Ratification. She further told the house that the Democratic Republic of Congo will commence full participation in EAC Meetings, Projects and Programmes with effect from ls October 2022 if all the prescribed steps are complied with and in the set timelines.

In discussing the statement, Hon. Atima Jackson (Arua Central, NRM) said that the DRC comes with a huge potential in terms of trade and it is our mandate to tap on these opportunities very well. Hon. Solomon Silwany (Bukooli Central, NRM) asked, ” We had a border with Rwanda closed yet we are in the EAC and have a very close working relationship. What plans do we have with the new admission of Congo to EAC to avoid such happenings?” On her part, Hon. Agnes Ameede (DWR Butebo, Indp) asked, “We are all excited about the new market of DRC, but what are we taking to DRC?. We are talking about products only, but DRC is a French-speaking country, and there could be a market for English teachers. Will somebody take a lead to negotiate this deal for Uganda to export English teachers to Congo?”. On the issue of National IDs, Kadaga said it is quite annoying, especially in Tanzania where you are arrested for crossing with the ID. “I will discuss this with the minister on the other side”, she said.

Hon. David Kabanda (Kasambya County, NRM) said “None of the member states was willing to mediate when Uganda and Rwanda had issues. When the Speaker asked who did the mediation, Hon Kabanda promptly replied, “Angola”. He went on to say, “We didn’t see any sitting at the EALA talking about the issues that Uganda had with Kenya on its own products”. On his part, Hon. Joel Ssenyonyi (Nakawa Division West, NUP) said, “There are things that we ought to fix for us to optimize this integration. In 2010, EAC launched common markets for goods, labour & capital, but it is still a challenge today for our sugar, eggs etc to make it to certain markets in the EAC”. 

Hon. Nambooze (Mukono Municipality, NUP) “Where we are now, countries that had never been in the original EAC out number the countries that had the original concept in EAC. We now have Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, South Sudan and very soon Egypt. It is becoming a club for Presidents”, she said. She added that the East African Community is supposed to be about the people, but the people in these countries know nothing about this community.

On his part, the LOP Mathias Mpuuga said, “We need to sensitize our people on these opportunities on all sides of the borders so that we do not end up with challenges that we have seen where some people in South Africa look at their black brothers & sisters as endangering their own survival”.   

Later, the Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Physical Infrastructure Hon. Robert Kasolo presented a report on the Physical Planners’ Registration Bill, 2021. The Bill was read for the first time on 29th September 2021. He also asked the government to aid the local manufacturers by giving them tax incentives like they are given to foreign investors. He said that this will increase production giving Uganda more products to export to the member states.

The Bill under Clause 3 provides for functions of the Physical Planners’ Registration Board. However, the Committee observed that the functions of the Board do not include regulation of physical planning firms in Uganda yet this area is currently unregulated. The Committee recommended that the functions of the Board should include monitoring and regulating standards for private physical planning firms in Uganda.

Hon. Robert Kasolo said, “The Committee observed that under clause 43, the punishment of a fine not exceeding 48 currency points or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both for offences cited in the Bill is not punitive enough given that some of the offending activities are lucrative”. The Committee proposes that the Bill should increase the fine payable by an offender to 100 currency points (UGX 2 million) or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both to deter potential offenders.

In discussing the bill, Hon. David Kabanda, (Kasambya County MP, NRM) said most of the urban centres and cities are congested and disorganized because the physical planners are not employed on merit. “Most of the physical planners we have do not have the right qualifications”, he said.  Hon. Jane Awich (Kabermaido Woman MP, NRM) however had a different view saying, “What is affecting physical planning in the cities and urban centres is corruption. As long as you have money to bribe a planner or engineer then you can erect any kind of building in the district”, she said.

The House then constituted itself into the Committee of the Whole House to scrutinise the Physical Planners’ Registration Bill, 2021 clause by clause.  After the 3rd Reading, Parliament passed with Amendments the Physical Planners Bill, 2021 that among others provides a legal framework to regulate, standardize the practice & activities of physical planners to organize urban development in the country.

Thereafter, Hon. Sarah Opendi (DWR Tororo, NRM) and Chairperson UWOPA raised a matter concerning the kidnap and torture of Ms. Alexandreos Marinos who was recently abducted, severely tortured and sexually assaulted by security operatives who abducted her in a drone and tortured her at the CMI facility in Mbuya. She said that this lady had been kidnapped twice from her home.

Hon. Opendi told the house that the lady was first kidnapped on 30th March 2022 and released after 3 days. On Easter Monday she was arrested again, blindfolded, gang-raped and tortured. The lady alleges that Ssengoba Erias and Ali Hassan are the ones who kidnapped her and are believed to be members of the security forces. “Why would you pick a woman from her house, kidnap her, handcuff her and rape her? “These must be people from the security because an ordinary person cannot handcuff a person”, she said. “It is alleged that when the woman went to Kinawataka Police Station her complaint was not recorded by the Police”, she said.

The Speaker directed the Minister of Internal Affairs to come to the house on Tuesday next week and present a statement to the House regarding what happened and what actions have been taken.  

Plenary was adjourned to Tuesday next week, 26th April 2022.

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