KAMPALA – The government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa has defended the perennial absenteeism by ministers from Parliament, saying most of them are working to fulfil demands by Ugandans to attend burials and baptism in their constituencies.
Ms. Nankabirwa made the remarks on Thursday, April 4, during a Twitter chat at Parliament where she was responding to questions on how she intends to deal with the continued snubbing of Cabinet ministers from Committees and plenary sitting a vice that has crippled Parliament activities.
Ms. Nankabirwa said that some ministers are in the first place Members of Parliament who are having obligations to attend to in their constituents yet at the same time are supposed to be at Parliament.
She added that the situation is worsened by the huge number of ministers who tend to think their deputies are present only to realize they are away: “When you are many, there is a tendency to think that somebody else is there to handle. The ministers are both ministers and MPs, so they are pulled to go to the constituencies to attend to the many invitations. Ministers are accountable regarding the projects they are implementing, so they have to be in the field.”
“There is a lot of pressure put on the ministers who also double as MPs to go to the constituencies and take part on a number of ceremonies like burials, baptism, weddings yet we need them at Parliament. It is a challenge that we don’t have a recess for a long time, the ministers would use that holiday to go to their constituencies,” added Ms. Nankabirwa.
For a while, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanya have, on several occasions, complained of the increasing tendency of ministers absenting themselves from the plenary sittings where key national issues are discussed and on many occasions call for responses from concerned line ministries.