KAMPALA – Legislators have divided over proposals presented by the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline that among others, recommends changes in the process of the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
The proposals were by the committee chairperson, Hon. Clement Ongalo-Obote during Tuesday’s plenary sitting.
“I suggest that you study the proposals and if you want to make more proposals, they should be submitted early enough to the Clerk. A date will be given for the debate of this report and there will be no spontaneous proposals from the Floor,” said Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.
The proposal recommends that Rule 5 should be amended to bar candidates for the position of Speaker and Deputy Speaker, from campaigning because there are, according to the report, high chances of hurting the dignity of the individuals concerned and in turn the institution of Parliament.
The rules of procedure currently provide for the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, with the only envisaged exit from these positions being by impeachment under Rule 107.
Ongalo-Obote further proposed that the rules should be amended to provide for resignation from the offices of Speaker and Deputy Speaker, noting that the rules did not provide for voluntary exit from these offices.
The committee report also proposes to amend Rule 19 (2) to include Monday as a Parliamentary sitting day, in addition to the prescribed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; with a view of creating more opportunities for MPs to speak in the House.
“The size of Parliament has increased overtime with the 11th Parliament expected to be 72 members bigger than the 10th Parliament. It is, however, a matter of concern that the hours of the sittings of Parliament have remained the same,” Ongalo-Obote told the House.
Another proposal by the committee is for questions to be asked during Prime Minister’s Time to be submitted to the Prime Minister in advance, and that they ought to be limited to questions on government policy and clustered together if they are related to the same policy.
Prime Minister’s Time provided for under Rule 41 was borrowed from the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. However, the Prime Minister in Uganda does not have same powers as the Prime Minister in the United Kingdom who is the head of government and chief executive of the country.
“The committee observed that answers during Prime Minister’s Time may not be conclusive because on certain issues the Prime Minister may have to consult with the President and sector ministers. This makes the procedure not as effective as it is in the United Kingdom,” reads the proposals.
The committee also proposed that with the growing number of legislators in the House, MPs should belong to one Parliament committee on an annual rotational basis, so as to improve on the efficiency and effectiveness of committees.
Further, it was also proposed that a nomination fee be introduced for candidates seeking election to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) of Shs 3 million in a bid to harmonise the election procedures of EALA with that of other electoral offices in the country.
A proposal has also been made to amend Appendix G of the Rules to further regulate electronic coverage of House proceedings, noting a stretch on the right to privacy and heightened misinformation on Parliament business.
The committee was tasked on 28 January 2021 to review the current rules governing the proceedings of Parliament.