9th Parliament – Three Years Later

At the end of its third year, Uganda’s 9th Parliaments resembles a mixed bag, with statistics it says are worthy, amidst growing public criticism of its record. A review of official parliamentary records shows that over the last three years, Parliament passed 32 Bills against a consolidated figure of 98 Bills presented, rejected one Bill, and shelved the controversial Marriage and Divorce Bill, 2009.

Passed controversial Bills:

Of the 32 Bills passed, at least five attracted stern criticism, some locally and others internationally. They include the Public Order Management Bill, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Bill, 2012. Others are the HIVAIDs Prevention and Control Bill, and the Anti-Pornography Bill.

Records show that MPs passed nine Bills in the first session, nine in the second and 14 in the just-ended session. Apart from the Bills passed, MPs also handled petitions, committee reports and motions. Seven oral questions were responded to during the first session and four in the second session.

In the third session, the slot for oral questions morphed into the Prime Minister’s Question Time, where MPs ask the prime minister questions of their choice and he answers them on the floor. The records also show that 10 committee reports were presented in the first session, 27 in the second and 28 in the third session.

In all, 100 motions have been passed in the three years.

Petitions:

Parliament handled eight petitions in the first session, 21 in the second and at least 14 in the third.

Bills passed in first session

050911: The Excise Tariff (amendment) Bill, 2011

060911: the Finance Bill, 2011

060911: the Finance (Amendment) No. 2 Bill, 2011

070911: The Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2011

070911: The Stamps (Amendment) Bill, 2011

090911: The Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2011

140911: The Supplementary Appropriations Bill, 2011

150911: the Appropriations Bill, 2011

220312: the Companies Bill, 2009

Bills passed in second session

070812: the National council for older persons Bill, 2010

290812: the Finance Act 2006 (amendment) Bill, 2012

290812: The Income tax (Amendment) Bill, 2012

050912: The Uganda Communications Regulatory Authority Bill, 2012

300812: The Excise Tariff (Amendment) Bill, 2012

300812: The Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2012

300812: The East African Excise Management (Amendment) Bill, 2012

110912: The Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2012

301112: The Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production Bill, 2012

Bills passed in 3rd session

100713: The Anti-Money Laundering Bill, 2009

230713: The National Population Council Bill, 2011

210813: The Industrial Property Bill, 2009

060813: The Public Order Management Bill, 2011

180913: The Finance Bill, 2013

180913: The Excise Management (Amendment) Bill, 2013

090913: The Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2013

090913: The Excise Tariff (Amendment) Bill, 2013

090913: The Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2013

090913: The Supplementary Appropriations Bill, 2013

200913: The Appropriations Bill, 2013

121213: The Higher Education Financing Bill, 2013

051213: The Free Zones Bill, 2012

181213: The Uganda National Commission for UNESCO Bill, 2012

191213: The Anti-Pornography Bill, 2011

191213: The Chattels Securities Bill, 2009

201213: The Plant Varieties Protection Bill, 2010

201213: The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2010

130514: the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill, 2010

Bills rejected:

010414: The Implementation of Government Assurances Bill, 2008

What people say:

Despite receiving rave reviews in its first year, largely due to its outspokenness, this parliament finds itself the subject of some sharp criticism. Some have described it as a “club” of elites looking to get themselves their share of public funds instead of ensuring the best gains for the populace.

“The ninth parliament is equally a disappointment like any other parliaments,” said Julius Lebo, a Makerere University lecturer.

Cissy Kagaba, the executive director of the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda, echoes the same sentiments.

“People had higher expectations and they [Parliament] set the bar high but eventually as time went on, we are seeing the usual things of the previous parliaments,” Kagaba said in a recent interview.

“Although they pledged to be transparent, they locked the media out when they were discussing their entitlements and they eventually agreed to increase them.

“Quantitatively, they have performed poorly because the number of laws passed is relatively low, which is a negative on their side.”

Faulted on quorum:

Parliament has occasionally, suffered a lack of quorum largely due to the absenteeism of MPs. This is something that Kagaba finds unacceptable.

“They come and sign, then they are nowhere to be seen when it comes to parliamentary work,” she said. “That means that we have leaders who are money-minded who are businessmen and women.”

Rubber stamp:

Others think the House, which started brightly, has failed to assert its independence. They say it has surrendered its authority to the NRM caucus, which enjoys a majority in the house. There have only been a few MPs, Kagaba says, who have stood up for the interest of the taxpayers.

Lebo seems to agree.

“The power of the caucus has usurped the roles of Parliament and it is a group of rubber stampers.” Lebo said. “As far as representing the issues of people is concerned, this parliament is a failure.”

Noble duty:

However, Helen Kawesa, the public relations manager of Parliament, finds this criticism unwarranted.

“It’s premature to judge this Parliament because this is the third year we still have two years to make five years,” Kawesa told The Observer recently.

She said Parliament was doing its best, although Ugandans were free to express their “opinions” – including on the power of the ruling party caucus.

“This is a multi-party parliament. There should be caucuses for members to adopt common positions while on the floor it is true that most of the debating is done there and people should accept that a caucus is an established organ of parliament.”

Key events:

In three years, the ninth parliament has had its fair share of drama. October 10-11, 2011: Parliament held a special session to pass 11 controversial resolutions including one that sought to have Premier Amama Mbabazi, and Ministers Sam Kutesa and Hilary Onek suspended, pending a probe into allegations of oil-related.

November 28, 2012: Speaker Kadaga suspends House for one week pending a report by the house committee on rules, discipline and privileges that investigated MPs accused of rowdy behaviour.

December 2012: former Butaleja Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda’s body made history by being taken twice to Parliament to be eulogized – after her controversial death that same month.

May 2, 2013: Kadaga disagrees with NRM and rules to keep the four expelled NRM rebel MPs in Parliament

August 1, 2013: deputy speaker Oulanyah suspends four MPs for misconduct

October 2, 2013: Oulanyah orders the sergeant-at-arms to physically eject Kyadondo East MP Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda from the chambers.

October 8 2013: Oulanyah relents and allows the suspended MPs back into the House after “apologizing on their behalf”.

February 2014: Kadaga heeds a court order to expel rebel MPs from Parliament.

Source : The Observer

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