Commotion in parliament as showers interrupt budget speech; legislators left cursing

Finance Minister Hon. Matia Kassaija's buget speech halted over heavy downpour; Courtesy Photo

The annual budget speech in Uganda was inadvertently halted for a few minutes after a heavy downpour interrupted the proceedings causing a paralysis in parliament.

The speech which was being read from an improvised shelter in the parking yard at Parliament building, came to a grinding halt after showers tore through the roof and entrances of the tents leaving several legislators drenched to their shoes.

Hardly 10 minutes into the speech, than heavy rain came down forcing the finance minister Hon. Matia Kassaija to abandon the constitutional task as showers and flowing water ran under his feet.

For about 4 minutes, there was paralysis and commotion as everyone scampered for a dry area inside and outside the tents.

The improvisation for parliamentary proceedings in make-shift structures is due to the inadequate housing accommodation for the house partly as a measure to enforce social distancing in the face of coronavirus, and the huge number of MPs who attend budget reading sessions.

The audience which was majorly following proceedings on TV, were equally left puzzled since the signal got lost as cameramen scampered to save their equipment from the hazards of nature.

The head of state –President Museveni and his wife were equally confused as the TV screens flickered, and went mute for minutes in State House Entebbe, where they were following proceedings from.

The first lady Janet Museveni was visibly puzzled at the incident probably hoping for the best.

After about 4 minutes, the voice and picture of the finance minister Hon. Matia Kassaija returned to screens as he struggled to catch up from where he had stopped.

The speech reading proceeded thereafter with interruptions in signal persisting as rains continued to pound the tent.

Parliament took a decision to abandon the main chambers following the outbreak of coronavirus and since, sittings are conducted in tents or in spaces around parliament.

This is due to inadequate space to accommodate a huge number of legislators in the 10th parliament amidst fears of spread of coronavirus.

Some legislators were heard cursing and pondering how they will change their wet clothing as well as shoes.

Construction of new parliamentary chambers which will house more than 500 legislators is in final stages of completion though it will be behind schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic.



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