Parliament takes steps to amend law on appointment of commissioners


A day after Speaker Rebecca Kadaga ruled that MPs should elect their own leaders in Parliament as opposed to political party chiefs, Kabale Municipality MP Andrew Aja Baryayanga has drafted a law to formalize the development.

Baryayanga was on Wednesday granted leave of Parliament to work on a Private Member’s bill titled, “The Administration of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2018.”

He is crafting the law together with Busiro East MP also Shadow Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Medard Lubega Sseggona.

It seeks to amend the Administration of Parliament Act to increase the membership of the Commission; to provide for the manner of choosing the back bench Members of the Commission, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Opposition Whip and Party Whips.

The bill also seeks to establish the office of Deputy Leader of Opposition and Deputy Chief Opposition Whip; to provide for the tenure of party whips.

Baryayanga’s bill also wants to have fair representation of the Opposition on the Parliamentary Commission from the current one position for the opposition yet the party in government was allocated three positions.

“Furthermore, the provision did not take into account the existence of other shades of opinion in Parliament including independent Members and special interest groups. This state of affairs has led to the subjugation of the views of the opposition and other shade of opinion on the Commission considering that the other members of the Commission, being the Speaker, the Minister responsible for Finance, the Prime Minister and the three back bench members of the Commission are drawn from the party in Government,” Baryayanga noted.

He argues that the manner in which the backbench members of the Commission are selected is not transparent and there is no accountability of the backbench members to MPs whose interests they represent.

“The manner in which the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament is designated and removed is not transparent, has led to the subjugation of the views of other opposition political parties in Parliament, has made it impossible for the opposition members to hold the Leader of Opposition in Parliament accountable and has resulted in the Leader of Opposition in Parliament not enjoying security of tenure,” Baryayanga stated.

“It is important to note that whereas Section 68 of the Administration of Parliament Act requires the Leader of Opposition in Parliament to be determined through an elective process, currently that is not the case since he or she is merely designated by the party with the highest numerical strength among opposition parties in Parliament and is imposed on the opposition Members of Parliament without their will and consent,” he added.

The bill notes that likewise when it comes to the removal of the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, he or she is removed by the party at any time and without the consent or consultation of other opposition political parties as well as opposition members of Parliament.

“Whereas the Leader of Opposition is drawn from the party in opposition to Government with the greatest numerical strength among opposition political parties, such a person embodies and represents views of the opposition parties in Parliament.”

“Therefore, the Leader of Opposition should be determined and removed from office through a process that is transparent and takes into account the views and aspirations of the opposition parties in Parliament as well as guaranteeing security of tenure for the Leader of the Opposition,” the Kabale Municipality MP argued.