The leader of opposition in Parliament (LOP) Mathias Mpuuga has rallied opposition MPs to defy orders blocking them from attending parliamentary committee meetings, terming the orders as lacking the force of the law.
While speaking in a press briefing on Tuesday morning, Mpuuga also lashed at committee chairpersons who have started chasing away opposition members from meetings calling them wiseacres because they lack powers to do so.
This follows a recent directive from the speaker Anita Among banning opposition MPs from participating in all activities of Parliament, including committees, as long as the boycott of plenary sittings is still on. During a plenary sitting last week, Among reasoned that by staying away from parliamentary proceedings, the MPs disqualify themselves from other privileges including access to committees as well as foreign trips.
On Monday, while effecting the speaker’s directive, the chairman of the Legal & Parliamentary committee Hon. Fox Odi (West Budama South) evicted Hon. Robert Ssekitoleko (Bamunanika MP) from a committee meeting. In contrast, however, the LOP and Speaker were sitting together in the Parliamentary Appointments committee which had sat to approve an appointee to the Judicial Service Commission.
The opposition had maintained to continue offering oversight through committees, challenging the speaker’s order as illegal and the two incidents sparked a controversy with Hon. Luttamaguzi Semakula (Nakaseke South MP) interpreting Mpuuga’s attendance in the committee as unofficial lifting of the boycott.
In the press conference, Mpuuga said the opposition cabinet sitting resolved to reassert their continuing boycott of plenary until government shows commitment to provide a sequential statement in response issues of human rights violations in the country. He also implored opposition members to continue attending parliamentary committees and to defy attempts by chairpersons to chase them from the meetings.
“By this communication, I want to ask and advise other chairpersons of committees of Parliament to desist from appearing to be enforcing what is unenforceable. To restrain themselves from wiseaceing; chasing away members of Parliament from committees. They have no such power, they are acting in total disregard of the law and common sense. So they should desist from doing so. And I want to ask my members to defy where they find any chairpersons trying to do so.” Mpuuga stated.
He also reffed to Among’s directive as a mere joke, and a political statement.
“Yesterday I attended the Appointments committee with the speaker, I had four of my members with me and matters of eviction did not arise. So, I am encouraging my members to attend the committee meetings. I still think the speaker communicated in jest and for us politicians can understand jest communication to raise political adrenaline(s).” He said.
Mpuuga contends that speaker Anita Among understands how impractical her directives are and how difficult it may prove to implement them.
“I contend that the speaker is smart enough to know how impractical it is to implement that directive and I don’t think she is eager or zealous to implement it.” Mpuuga added that he will be shocked if Among is serious about her directives.