The opposition in Uganda’s parliament have expressed concern over delayed constitution of parliamentary committees accusing the ruling party -National Resistance Movement (NRM) for deliberately crippling the work of parliament.
The leader of opposition Hon Mathiuas Mpuuga said Parliament is currently operating in an Adhoc manner because of the unwillingness of the NRM party to designate its members to the committees.
“We have a feeling that these actions of the NRM are deliberate and intended to cripple the work of parliament.
In effect we can’t have a Parliamentary Commission because the ruling party has decided to undermine Parliament” Hon Mpuuga said on Friday.
Mpuuga says he had a meeting with the leadership (designate) of the four accountability committees that according to the Rules of Procedure of parliament are supposed to be headed by the opposition and all expressed concern over NRM’s reluctance to constitute committees.
He also said he had an interaction with the Deputy Speaker Rt Hon Anita Among and she said that her hands are tied.
On June 22, parliament business was suspended for two weeks as a mitigating measure in the prevention of Covid-19 infection after several MPs and parliament staff tested positive for COVID-19. Mr Henry Waiswa, the Deputy Clerk to Parliament in charge of Corporate Affairs said the period of two weeks was to facilitate disinfecting of the parliamentary building. Members of Parliament were also advised to work from their constituencies during the two weeks of Parliament lockdown.
This move was opposed by the opposition who say business had to continue despite the lockdown. The opposition also say, the lockdown cannot be the reason to stop the NRM party to go on with designating committees.
Through committees, legislators handle parliament business as well as in plenary, field visits, and in constituencies. Normally, committees are constituted at the start of a new term of Parliament. Whereas the new parliament was sworn in in Mid May, committees are yet constituted despite the opposition having designated their preferred choices for membership. The NRM, however, has not nominated members to sit on committees.
The Leader of opposition also said he and fellow opposition members are planning to move parliament to designate the Human Rights Committee whose leadership has been a preserve of the ruling party. Hon Mpuuga says, as an accountability committee, it should be led by the opposition because Accountability is not only about money.
Currently, Parliamentary Rules provides for a Human Rights Committee chaired by the ruling party which the opposition say is irregular.