11TH PARLIAMENT MUST NOT BE A MERCANTILE HOUSE
11th Parliament must not be a Mercantile House
On 14th January 2021, the citizens of Uganda entered into a social contract with 529 men and women to represent them in the 11th Parliament. These citizens expect Parliamentarians to act in the interest of voters as they set out to perform their key roles of Legislation, Representation, Oversight, and Appropriation as specified in the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.
The legislators took oath this week and swore to protect the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda as well as represent the voters with whom they entered into a social contract. But do the Members of Parliament stay wedded to the oaths they take or do they divert?
In the 10th Parliament, Ugandans witnessed the majority of MPs abandoning the peoples’ interests and resorting to chasing after their personal gain. Some MPs even ceased attending Parliamentary business and concentrated more on activities ostensibly aimed at recouping the money they spent on campaigns.
This predisposed most of them to captivity by wealthy individuals who bailed out the legislators so long as agendas of those wealthy persons were fronted in Parliament.
What happened to the 317 MPs who supported the lifting of the Age-Limit?
On 20th December 2017, some Ugandan citizens were left appalled by how Members of Parliament passed into law the lifting of Article 102(b) of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda – to remove the age limit (35 – 75) for presidential candidates.
It is important to recall that in 2005, Presidential term limits were removed from the 1995 Constitution of Uganda. The age limit clause was therefore one of the legal provisions that would help usher in a peaceful transition of power in Uganda as per the wishes of many citizens.
Since the age-limit matter was so controversial, the MPs in the 10th Parliament were facilitated to conduct consultative meetings with citizens where they would seek views on how to proceed with the issue at hand. After consultations, MPs then returned to vote on the issue, 317 MPs voted in favor of the removal of the age limit while 97 were against it.
It is apparent that some of the MPs who supported the removal of the age limit did so against the wishes of their constituents making the relationships sour and voters promised to vote them out.
SecretsKnown made an analysis to establish how the MPs who voted in favor of the age limit performed in the elections. Our findings indicate that 192 out 317 members of the 10th Parliament who voted in favor of lifting the age limit did not return to parliament.
Without ruling out the two members who passed on before elections, the rest of the members were voted out, and the champion of the bill Hon. Rafael Magyezi is reported to have bowed out of pressure and did not contest.
The performance score of the 10th Parliament in relation to their mandate?
According to the Parliamentary Scorecard 2018-2019 that was conducted by Africa Leadership Institute based on the 10th Parliament on key roles of representation, legislation, oversight, and appropriation. The scorecard findings highlight that;
✔ Representation role in terms of attendance of plenary, registered low percentages across regions with 20% of Northern MPs, 16 % of Central region MPs, 21% of Eastern region MPs, and 18% of Western region MPs attending.
✔ When it came to legislation, the report indicates that overall, 51.4% of the MPs participated in debates to enact laws.
✔ The scorecard further stresses that in the oversight role, 36% of national issues were raised by Western region MPs, 27% by Central region MPs, 27% from Northern region MPs, and 11% from Eastern region MPs.
✔ On appropriation role, the scorecard highlights that 60% of the approved budgets complied with the provisions of the law, and not much is known about the 40% that did not comply.
Such a performance from the 10th parliament was below the expectations of the majority of Ugandans. It’s now incumbent upon the 11th parliament to raise the bar through executing their constitutional mandate effectively and avoid diverting to other activities that will jeopardize their performance.
Members of the 11th Parliament must also desist from turning themselves into government procurement officers where they are seen procuring community ambulances, constructing roads, health centers, and school classroom blocks.