Plenary sat and was chaired by the Deputy Speaker Rt. Hon. Thomas Tayebwa. In an effort to encourage MPs to come early for plenary, has said he is going to start rewarding MPs who come early for plenary by picking them to speak first.

Raising on a matter of national importance, Hon. Mugema Peter (Iganga Municipality MP, Indp) called upon the Minister of Local Government to intervene in the matter regarding illegal construction on a green belt in Iganga. He said the culprits had even disregarded a directive from the National Physical Planning Board of Uganda to stop construction. In response, the Premier Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja assured the House that she was going to use her power as Prime Minister to stop the construction of the green belt in Iganga.

Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs to present a comprehensive report to the House on the measures being taken to ensure Ugandans can easily travel to other countries just like how other countries enter Uganda with ease. This arose from complaints from Ugandans about the difficulties entering other countries and yet Uganda does not complicate entry for foreigners.

Hon. Fox Odoi, (West Budama North East County MP, NRM) raised a matter of national importance regarding heavy rainfall and strong winds in West Budama that had destroyed farms, homes, and schools. He asked the government to intervene with relief for the people. The Prime Minister promised to extend assistance to the district. She also urged MPs to encourage their communities to plant trees as windbreakers as they will protect and save them from these winds.

Hon. Lumu Richard, (Mityana County South MP, DP) was concerned about the nature of the construction of the Makerere University main building that was gutted by fire on 20th September 2020. He said the cabinet passed UGX 20 billion for reconstruction but was worried the construction was not up to standard. He asked to know if the funds were meant for just repairs or fresh construction of the building and for an investigation into whether the repairs can sustain the roof. Earlier he reminded the Parliamentary Committee on Finance to quickly scrutinize the new tax bills for the House to be able to consider them on time.

Later, the House adopted the Report of the Committee on Presidential Affairs that was presented yesterday by Hon. Jessica Ababiku the Committee Chair. The Report was on the Nationwide Assessment of the disaster-prone areas and the proposed sustainable strategies for addressing disasters across the country.

Later the Order Paper was altered to allow the Minister for Gender Hon Betty Amongi to present a statement on commemorations to mark the 2022 International Labour Day. This year’s International Labour Day will be celebrated on Sunday, May 01, 2022. This day will be commemorated in appreciation of the contribution of workers to national development and helps in raising national and international consciousness on the importance of promoting and protecting the rights of workers. The theme for the 2022 International Labour Day is: “Mitigating the impact of COVID-I9: Enhancing Productive Employment for improved livelihoods through the Parish Development Model.” The Minister said this year’s Labour Day will be used as a rallying platform to sensitize the public to understand and participate in the implementation of the PDM.

Later, the Chairperson of the Committee on Gender, Hon. Flavia Kabahenda moved a motion for the adoption of the Report of the Committee of Gender, Labour and Social Development on GBV in the districts of Moroto, Amudat, Kapchorwa, Kween, Tororo, and Jinja. The Committee found that the lack of secondary schools in those districts was particularly disturbing because girls who would be going to school were being forced into early marriages and forced to become mothers. Such girls the committee observed were also being targeted by traffickers who recruit them into street begging and sexually exploit them. The committee among other recommendations proposed that the government engages all cultural and other leaders in the fight against GBV, and work with them to have alternative rites of passage as well as have appropriate cultural activities.

The Committee established that because of the proximity of Sebei and Karamoja to Kenya and the existence of porous borders, many girls and women had undergone FGM procedures in Kenya. The Gender Committee report recommended that the government of Uganda engages the Government of Kenya regarding the prevalence of cross-border FGM with a view to ending the practice. The committee stressed the importance of economic empowerment through government-led interventions and the need to review legislation with gaps and implement existing ones as well as address the bottlenecks that exist among the JLOS institutions.

Commenting on the report, Hon. Sarah Opendi (DWR Tororo and Chairperson UWOPA) said, “When you get to the countryside, most of the men had abandoned their role as head of the family to the women and had resorted to drinking all day. “The women are actually the ones taking care of the family”, she said.  She said she was coming up with the Alcohol Control Bill which she hoped would be worked on. “Both men and women must ensure families are well taken care of but you go to the grassroots and at 9:00 – 10:00 am instead of men being in the gardens or working, they are busy in the trading centres drinking. That’s why we are now seeing women battering men”, she said.

Separately, the Deputy Speaker asked the Committee on National Economy to do a study and report back in 2 weeks on the implementation of the Euros 20m loan for the provision of health services to the Karamoja subregion.  He said the loan was passed in the 10th Parliament and yet he still hears of poor health services in Karamoja.

Later came the Prime Minister’s Question Time. Hon. Abubaker Kawalya (Rubaga North, NUP) asked why it had become difficult for the government to spearhead the development of urban slums by initiating affordable house projects for the urban poor.   The Prime Minister in response said Government was working on strengthening the National Housing and Construction Company and revamping it as the housing delivery arm of the Government on low-cost housing, including slum upgrading.

On his part, Hon. Richard Lumu (Mityana South, DP) asked why 6 police posts in Mityana had been recently closed, thus leading to increased crime and insecurity in the affected communities. In response, the Prime Minister said the Joint Security Forces had decided that the Police Posts that were vulnerable to such attacks should be re-organized and merged in order to prevent further loss of lives and arms.

Hon. Michael Mawanda (Igara East, NRM) asked why Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) had delayed appointing successful candidates despite concluding the recruitment process in December 2021. The Prime Minister in response said that KCCA issued appointment letters and successful candidates reported working with effect from 1st March 2022. Hon. Samuel Opio (Kole North, Indp.) asked why the government had not completed payments of service benefits to the former EAC employees 44 years later. This question did not have an appropriate response.

Later, Hon. Francis Zaake (Mityana Municipality, NUP) asked if the Government punished the security officers responsible for the shooting of innocent citizens during the protests of 18th and 19th November 2020.  “If so, what sort of punishment was given and to who were punishments given?”, he asked.  He also wanted to know, who was the overall commander of the security officers for the whole operation. Hon. Zaake also asked when and how exactly was the government planning to compensate the families of the innocent civilians who were shot dead during the protests. He also asked whether there was an official report about the shooting by security officers during the protests.

In response, Rt. Hon. Nabbanja said the government had taken steps to apprehend the culprits. “So far two officers have been charged & convicted accordingly”, she said. The two security officers identified as Mustafa Ssali and Augustine Mugisha had been charged with murder and convicted to 35 years and life imprisonment respectively.  She said the search for more culprits was ongoing. She also told the house that the report was presented by the then Minister of Internal Affairs Gen Jeje Odongo to the house after the shooting. She also told the House that this operation was conducted by UPF and UPDF which was done by operational & tactical commanders who were under the command of the IGP and Commander of Defence Forces (CDF).

On compensation of the victims of these shootings, she told the house that the government was still verifying the lists of the affected people and families. “Once the verification is complete the government will compensate the affected families accordingly”, she said.

Responding to a question by Hon. Johnathan Ebwalu Soroti West MP, Indp.) regarding appreciation to the medical team who successfully operated on the conjoined twins at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital the Prime Minister said, the Ministry of Health had planned to construct a new Soroti Regional Referral Hospital on a new site. The land had already been secured. She also said that a UGX 100 million Oxygen Plant which was under procurement would be fixed at the new hospital.

A regional blood bank was also being constructed at the new site. The government had also budgeted for the installation of CT scans for all regional referral hospitals, including the Soroti Regional Referral Hospital. The procurement process was almost complete. The Hospital had also been advised to prepare a recruitment plan for more staff. Regarding the Soroti Regional referral team that successfully operated on the conjoined twins, the PM said these were awarded medals by President Museveni at the NRM Liberation Day celebrations at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds on the 26th of January 2022.

The House later resumed debating the report on gender-based violence in the districts of Moroto, Amudat, Kapchorwa, Kween Tororo, and Jinja. Hon. Kabasharira Naome, (Rushenyi County MP, Indp.) said the main cause of GBV was poverty as highlighted by the Committee Report. She asked the House to seriously consider the report of the committee if we were to curb GBV in Uganda. Hon. Lillian Aber (DWR, Kitgum, NRM), said the issue of GBV needed to be diagnosed from all perspectives.

She added that the government needed to look into empowering the cultural institutions to look at how they can address GBV across the board because it was not only about beating a woman. She said there was a need to also look into the performance of a man in the House because it was also violence which was not normally talked about. She said another issue was the empowered Ugandans (the educated or elite) who had become too busy for their families. She said this was causing conflict because no one was attending to the other. She concluded by urging the Ministry of Gender to keep advocating for people to take family issues very seriously.

Finally, after the debate, Hon. Flavia Kabahenda the Gender Committee Chair moved a motion for the House to adopt the Report of the Committee, which it did with recommendations. As a follow-up action, the Deputy Speaker invoked Rule 220 and asked the Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Nabbanja to conduct an inter-ministerial study and return 6 months later with a comprehensive action taken report on the issues the members have raised on GBV.

The House was adjourned to Tuesday, 3rd May 2022 at 2:00 pm.

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