KAMPALA – The government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa has revealed that the ruling party, NRM has rejected proposals in the Administrations of Parliament Bill 2019 that had proposed for the creation of new positions of Dean of Independents, and Deputy Leader of Opposition as well as provide for voting of Leader of Opposition and Parliament Commissioners.
The private member’s bill was tabled by Mr. Andrew Aja (Kabale Municipality) and referred to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for scrutiny before MPs take a final decision on the matter.
Addressing journalists at Parliament on Thursday, April 4, Ms. Nankabirwa said that the caucus meeting held by NRM at the Office of the Prime Minister on Wednesday, April 3, agreed to reject the bill on grounds that it would weaken political parties and goes against the spirit of independents.
Ms. Nankabirwa explained: “The Administration of Parliament’s Bill was thrown out. I was advised to appear before the Committee and present the views from NRM to say that the bill doesn’t help parties, it will weaken parties. It is dictating how parties will choose their leaders in Parliament and this isn’t the spirit of the amendment we did to open up political parties.”
She also refuted claims by the mover of the Bill that it won’t attract a charge on the consolidated fund saying it is misinformation because the Bill seeks to create new positions whose officials will be facilitated by taxpayers.
“When you move them (independents) to form a group that means you are jeopardizing the spirit of independence,” Ms. Nankabirwa said.
The latest development means both NRM and FDC hold the common position on the Bill after Chief Opposition Whip, Mr. Ssemujju Nganda warned Parliament against passing the Bill saying it curtails the powers of political parties and will violate the spirit of both multiparty political system and that of the Constitution.
While appearing before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee to present the views on the proposed Administration of Parliament Amendment Bill 2019, Mr. Ssemujju said that the proposed Bill seeks to create parties within the Opposition, yet this is contrary to the Commonwealth practice.
He protested the proposals in the Bill arguing that whereas the proposed legislation seeks to create a group of Independent Members of Parliament, each one of them came to Parliament alone and must remain so at all times.
“These members are non-aligned as they belong to no political groupings and must be rendered all the support they require to remain so. The Independents cannot, therefore, be represented on the Commission because they are independent of each other,” argued Mr. Ssemujju.
The Kira Municipality MP urged that an attempt to group the independents with the Opposition is an infringement on their rights because they chose to be independent and quashed the justification to have independents pushed to Opposition on pretest that they are many as a lame excuse saying independents are a separate platform and the law shouldn’t be amended just for the situation, otherwise, this would mean that laws are amended each week.