Kadaga to name absentee ministers, MPs
Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga may this week release a list of Members of Parliament that have for long kept away from Parliamentary business.
Addressing journalists during a social media livechat, Kadaga said that she spent time last week compiling a list of absentee ministers and MPs.
“I have worked on a list of absenteeism and I will be issuing letters this week,” Kadaga said.
Several times, Parliament’s plenary sessions hardly raise 150 MPs in attendance.
Some only drop in to sign the attendance register and move out which has greatly affected the performance of Parliament in this session.
Under Rule 111(6) of the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure, an MP cannot remain absent from Parliament for than 15 consecutive sittings without the permission of the Speaker.
Clause 7 of the same Rule mandates the Speaker to give a written warning to the absentee MP, and also read it during the plenary sitting.
If the MPs continuously remains absent, the Speaker can then refer the MP to the Committee on Rules, Discipline and Privileges and at the end of the process, the MP can end up losing his or her seat.
In the 9th Parliament, two MPs, Tony Nsubuga Kipoi (Bubulo West) and Gen David Sejusa (UPDF) were subjected to this process and ended up being kicked out of Parliament.
Kadaga’s list is not to be limited to the plenary sittings but also covers attendance of committee meetings.
“The members not attending committees will be notified and the list will come out,” she said.
This is going to be the first time that Kadaga will invoke Rule 112 that prohibit skipping committee meetings for more than 15 sittings.
This Rule however does not provide for expulsion of the MP from Parliament but suspension from the Committee.
Asked about the high number of silent MPs, Kadaga said that, there was a challenge to give chance to all the more than 430 MPs.
“It is a challenge giving an opportunity to all MPs to speak but there is always a chance for all to debate; there are those who are are always seated there and silent and don’t show the Speaker that they want to contribute, you can’t force them,” Kadaga said.
Asked about the events that led to last year’s controversial passing of the Constitutional Amendment Bill that scrapped age limits for presidential candidates, Kadaga that the fighting in Parliament is not something for which Parliament can be wrongly judged.
“It was a unique situation; ordinarily, we discuss and agree, we don’t fight like I have seen in India where they fight in Parliament almost everyday. That was a one off, and it can’t be used to judge us wrongly,” Kadaga said.
The fighting, she said, was due the tensions in the country for which she cannot be blamed.
“It is not about me but the issues regarding the Bill. You need to acknowledge that there was a difficult issue where there was no agreement but Parliament had to enact that law,” she said.
On allegations that some of the committee clerks solicit for bribes from government officials under investigation, Kadaga acknowledged having received the complaints but has had challenges in getting evidence.
“I received such a report but when I called the accounting officer who was said to have been approched for a bribe, he denied. It’s a question of evidence. I have one whose name has come up more than once, and I am going to take action on it,” Kadaga said.
She refuted media reports that MPs were set to get a 50 percent salary increment.
“There is no attempt or strategy to increase the pay of MPs. Our budget was read in March so you would have seen it in the budget framework paper,” Kadaga said.