The Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, has for the first time since her election as Speaker come out rightly and warned of disciplinary action against Members of Parliament found culpable to recurrent absenteeism without prior communication.
“It has come to my attention that some MPs have made it a habit to only come for committees and dodge plenary sittings; this must stop forthwith’’ Among warned.
The Speaker sounded the warning while meeting a section of Members of Parliament in her office on Wednesday.
Among also appealed to MPs to serve the people who sent them to Parliament with dedication and commitment by participating in all Parliamentary activities, both in Committees and the House.
“You were all sent here by your constituents who entrusted you with the power to represent their interests. How will you do that if you don’t attend plenary sittings?” she added.
Ms Among, who for the time she has been in office demonstrated a level of commitment to her job, also said she is going to reactivate and implement the clock-in system to track MPs’ attendance, check in and check out.
Absenteeism is one of the challenges many government institutions in Uganda have faced overtime and in 2014, the Office of the Inspector General of Government (IGGG) described chronic absenteeism from Parliament by MPs as a quiet form of corruption.
In her 2014 Report on Tracking Corruption Trends in Uganda, IGG Irene Mulyagonja lamented that despite rampant dereliction of duty, absentee MPs continue to receive their full salaries and entitlements. As a mitigation measure, the administrators of the legislature in 2017 introduced of a biometric attendance system in Parliament to curb legislators’ absenteeism.
Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, a Member of Parliament is liable to lose his or her seat if they miss 15 consecutive sittings during any period when Parliament is continuously meeting and without written permission from the Speaker, and is unable to offer satisfactory explanation.