KAMPALA – The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has described as false accusations that independent MPs who have no representation on the Parliamentary Commission are being discriminated upon, although she called on lawmakers to consider having the group have representation on top organs of Parliament.
Kadaga made the remarks on Friday during the debate on the Administration of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2019 that was tabled by Andrew Aja Baryayanga.
The Bill seeks to amend the Administration of Parliament Act 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; to establish the office of Deputy Leader of Opposition and Deputy Chief Opposition Whip; to provide for the tenure of party Whips and to establish the office of dean of independent Members of Parliament.
She said, “I want to put this matter into perspective and answer question on whether independent MPs are discriminated in the commission, no they aren’t. But we have come to deal with reality of having three independents, they are now double the official opposition. What do we do with that group of so many people.”
Article 87A of the Constitution establishes the Parliamentary Commission. Section 2 (2) of the Administration of Parliament Act provides for the composition of the Commission to include: Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Leader of Government Business, Leader of the Opposition, the Minister responsible for Finance and four Commissioners (Backbench Members of Parliament). The Clerk to Parliament is Secretary to the Commission.
The Parliamentary Commission of the 10th Parliament includes; Speaker Rebecca A. Kadaga, Deputy Speaker Jacob L’Okori Oulanyah, Leader of Government Business Ruhakana Rugunda, Leader of the Opposition Ocan Betty Aol, Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development Matia Kasaija as well as four Backbench Members of which three are from NRM; Peter Ogwang, Arinaitwe Rwakajara and Robinah Nabbanja while FDC is represented by Mwijukye Francis.
The Parliamentary Commission roles includes appoint, promote and exercise disciplinary control over persons holding public office in Parliament as well as review the terms and conditions of service, standing orders, training and qualifications of persons holding office in Parliament.
Peter Ogwang (Usuk County) who is also member of the Commission also denied claims that independent MPs are being discriminated against saying, “I don’t think there is any decision from the Commission they can stand and say they weren’t fairly represented. When we are in the Commission, there are no political parties in the Commission.”
As at 1st November 2018, the 10th Parliament is comprised of 306 NRM MPs, FDC 37, Democratic Party 15, UPC 7, JEMA 1 and 67 Independents putting number of Independent MPs higher than all Opposition MPs combined.