22ndJune 2023 | Today in Parliament

22ndJune 2023 | Today in Parliament

Updates on the Uganda Parliament

This is an update from the Parliament of Uganda marking the 4th Sitting of the 1st Meeting of the 3rd Session of the 11th Parliament. This Sitting was chaired by the Speaker Rt. Hon. Anita Among. In her communication, the Speaker called on the Minister of Health to sort out the rampant shortage of blood in hospitals, describing the latest scarcity as dangerous. “We can’t have a country without blood, we can’t have hospitals without blood, people are dying. For us to have a healthy nation, we need to have the health sector in a good position.” Among said. The Speaker also asked the MoFPED to update Parliament on an earlier promise by Government to clear the arrears owed the 1,900 interns, tasking the Government to not only clear these arrears but plan for the 4000 interns who are about to be unleashed to undertake their internship after completion of their studies. “These are brothers, daughters, your sons and daughters. Just imagine if someone whose school fees you pay for four years to do medicine can’t go through an internship.  That person doesn’t qualify to be a doctor. Let us help these people, even if we don’t have where to place them, let us help them do private practice”. Among noted.  In addition, the Speaker extended her gratitude to Pope Francis for leading prayers in the Vatican for the students who were burnt and killed in Kasese during the recent terror attack. “I want to thank the Holy Father for having prayers for those children. There were prayers in the Vatican for the children burnt in Kasese.” Among said

Reacting to the Speaker’s communication, Hon. Ibrahim Ssemujju (MP, Kira Municipality, Wakiso, FDC) “I want to go and give blood, but I want assurances from the Government whether these Ministers who stole mabaati will not steal blood. I am available to give blood even today.” In response, the Speaker noted that “The way you are talking about mabaati (Iron sheets) it is like it is the first thing that has ever been stolen in Uganda. So many things have been stolen, and the people who stole, are in court, so it shouldn’t be an issue, it shouldn’t be an excuse. If you want to give blood, give blood.” She added that “You have kept boring us with mabaati. Me, I am bored of it. There are other important things that we should be talking about. Now we are talking about blood, you are talking about mabaati.” On the issue of pre-medical interns, State Minister of Finance Hon. Henry Musasizi informed the House that Shs22bn has been released and a cash limit issued to MOH to pay and deploy the interns.

Raising on Matters of National Importance, Hon. Fredrick Angura (MP, Tororo County South, Tororo, NRM) was concerned about the low connection of electricity in the rural areas despite the allocations. In response, the State Minister for Energy Hon. Opolot Okaasai requested to report back in two weeks with a comprehensive report on finances allocated to REA for rural electrification. Hon. Suubi Kinyamatama (DWR, Rakai, NRM) also asked Parliament to investigate the latest directive by URA barring traders from storing their goods in warehouses, describing the policy as very unfair. She said the traders weren’t sensitized about this, and the new directive has proved to be a very expensive venture for the business community and asked to have the directive halted immediately. In response, Third Deputy Prime Minister, Rukia Nakadama rejected the allegations that the traders were caught off guard saying the traders were sensitized about that programme and asked the Ministry of Trade to update Parliament over this matter. 

Furthermore, Hon. Mapenduzi Ojara (MP, Bardege-Layibi Division, Gulu City, INDP) was concerned about the increasing number of road accidents on Karuma Bridge on Kampala-Gulu Highway where motor vehicles are plunging into the R.Nile and claiming lives. In response, Works Minister Hon. Katumba Wamala said works are in the pipeline to revamp Karuma Bridge. “We are in discussions with some development partners to redesign and reposition this bridge to meet the challenges of the increasing traffic on that road,” Katumba said. Finally, Shadow Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon. Abdallah Kiwanuka asked the Speaker to request the Ministry of Defence to update Parliament on the recent attack against UPDF in Somalia. In response Minister of Defence, Vincent Ssempijja asked Parliament to give him three weeks to present a statement on the attack in Somalia.

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Hon. Ojara Mapenduzi

The House later considered a Statement by the Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs Hon. Vincent Ssempijja on the attack on Lhubiriha Secondary School in Mpondwe, Kasese District, allegedly by the Allied Defence Forces (ADF), on Friday 16th June 2023. The Minister noted that since the inception of Operation Shujaa in November 2021, over 500 terrorists have been killed, including foreign fighters affiliated with other terrorist groups like AlQaeda, Al-Shabaab and Islamic State Central Africa Province. In addition, the Minister said “What ADF is doing is not a sign of strength but of weakness. Otherwise, why don’t they attack military and police barracks or ambush army vehicles?” Minister Hon Ssempijja also said “We have denied them [ADF] space locally but we also need to finish them from their perennial hideouts in Congo. The country should not remain in this panic forever.” Furthermore, the Minister also revealed to the House that the President, who is also the Commander-in-Chief has given them orders to beef up UPDF deployment and use advanced technology at border points to avert further ADF attacks.

Reacting to the Statement, Hon. Florence Kabugho (DWR, Kasese District) noted that “Where were the security forces when the school was attacked?”. While  Hon. Ferigo Kambale (MP, Kasese Municipality) called for serious UPDF deployment to protect Ugandans.  The Speaker on her part wondered why security didn’t respond when the first report of the attack was made. In response  Minister Hon Ssempijja noted that they have already put very serious investigations into why these people didn’t respond. The Speaker, therefore, directed the Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs to conduct a fact-finding visit to Kasese to assess the current situation. “We also need a fresh statement from the Minister of Defence on the number of children abducted, and the state of the patients,” Among said

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Hon. Florence Kabugho

Minister of Health, Hon. Jane Ruth Aceng later told MPs that the Shs22.9bn released by the MoFPED is not for the deployment of the 1901 pre-medical interns, but rather to pay arrears of the 935 interns who completed internship in April this year. In addition, the Minister said “For 1901 interns, we require Shs80.4bn to deploy them and out of that money, MoFPED gave us Shs8bn for interns and Shs2bn for senior house officers. So we are not able to deploy [interns] until we are sure that the Shs80.4bn will be provided”.  On reports of blood shortage in the country as raised by Speaker Anitah Among, Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng said despite the challenges of collecting sufficient blood, there is still blood in the blood banks.

The House later moved to Prime Minister’s Time. It should be noted that during this session, the Prime Minister responds to questions raised by MPs relating to matters of Government policy or the general performance of the Government and its agencies.

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Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabanja 

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