PARLIAMENT – Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga has lived true to her promise of whipping MPs who are in the habit of dodging Committee meetings with Betty Nambooze (Mukono Municipality MP) being one of the Legislators to face her wrath.
In a leaked 7th June 2018, letter from the Speaker’s chambers, Kadaga exposed Nambooze’s persistent absenteeism from committee meeting and threatened to take disciplinary action, if she keeps up with the vice in the coming 3rd session.
According to the letter seen by this website, Kadaga highlighted that out of the 23 committee meetings, Nambooze only attended 4 and gave no reason for being absent from the 19 meetings held by the Committee of Local Government and Public Service, to which Nambooze is a member.
The Speaker noted that Nambooze’s actions are contrary to Rule 112 (1&2) of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament; ‘The Chairperson of a Committee shall report to the Speaker and Member who misses fifteen consecutive meetings of the Committee without permission and the Speaker shall give a written warning to that Member.’
Rule 112(2) notes; If after a warning under sub-rule (2), the member continues to be absent from the meetings of the Committee, the Speaker shall suspend the Member from the Committee.
The Speaker’s letter read in part: “This is therefore to notify you that the persistent absence from the Committee activities in the next session will attract disciplinary proceedings against you under Rules 111(7) and 112(2) of the Rules of Procedure.”
Kadaga highlighted that the continued absence of MPs not only affects the running of Committee business, but this too adversely affects the performance of Parliament in general since the bulk of Parliamentary work comes from Committees.
However, in a media interview with NTV Nambooze acknowledged having received the letter but blamed her absenteeism on the injuries she sustained during the age limit debate on 27th September 2017,that kept her in hospital for the good part of the Committee business.
“This has come as a surprise, I was waiting for a get well card from my Speaker, but I instead got a letter of indictment accusing me of absenting myself from Committees especially in the last session,” said Nambooze.
The Democratic Party MP added that unlike other MPs that need to be whipped to carry out their constitutional duties, she doesn’t need whipping to represent her voters in Mukono Municipality noting: “For me, if I am in good health, I don’t need any whipping in as far as doing my job is concerned. I am one of those MPs who can whip herself.”
When asked about the matter, Chris Obore, Director of Communications and Public Affairs declined to comment on her letter saying she hasn’t received authority to comment.
Obore explained: “I haven’t been given authority to comment on that letter. Once I am given authority, I will comment and as my principle, I can’t comment on matters I have no knowledge about. I prefer commenting on something where authority has been given or I have been given knowledge about it.”
Sam Lyomoki (Workers MP) defended Nambooze saying that not only do MPs need more time to discuss matters, but guarantee that what they discuss will be implemented.
“Members need to be given enough time to discuss and even there are guarantees to ensure that whatever is discussed is passed and even implemented becomes at times, there are resolutions in the Committees, which are ignored, now a member loses interest, so a member finds no reason to continue attending such meetings,” said Lyomoki.
Angelline Osegge, Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee welcomed the decision taken by Kadaga but called for a comprehensive approach and have the measures extended to plenary as well.