Today in Parliament | 9th January 2024

Greetings from AFLI and the Parliament of Uganda!

This is an update from the Parliament of Uganda marking the 1st Sitting of the 3rd Meeting of the 3rd Session of the 11th Parliament. This Sitting was chaired by the  Speaker Rt. Hon. Anitah Among. In her communication, Speaker Among congratulated Parliament on successfully hosting the 27th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers. “And on that note, I take this opportunity to congratulate and thank every one of you for a successful Conference. Thank you very much and keep up that remarkable spirit of sacrifice, teamwork and dedication.” 

Also, The NRM MPs, led by Speaker Anitah Among, praised Mathias Mpuuga for his outstanding leadership as Leader of the Opposition.  She urged the new LOP, Hon. Ssenyonyi Joel, to build upon Mpuuga’s work and address Rule 14, especially 13 (3), which requires regular consultations with the Leader of Government Business and the Speaker. “As the Leader of the Opposition, I urge you to build upon the works of your predecessor, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga. Let us be incremental in our service to the people but not disruptive.  In so doing, I urge the LOP to address his mind to Rule 14, especially 13 (3) which requires the Leader of the Opposition to hold regular consultations with the Leader of Government Business and the Speaker”. Among said.

Reacting to the Speaker’s Communication, the outgoing LOP, Hon. Mpuuga Mathias (MP, Nyendo Mukungwe Division, Masaka City, NUP) in his handover statement,  urged leaders to serve the people and prioritize the common good, appealing to the House to accord his successor, Hon. Joel Ssenyonyi, the same support. Mpuuga said. To the new LOP, he said: “Communicate effectively so that you are understood, don’t take it personal, take care of your good self, focus on the positive, be patient, seek support, it is all over this place, remember you aren’t alone, and where you get space, celebrate your successes.”  

In his maiden speech, the new LOP, Hon. Ssenyonyi Joel Besekezi who is the (MP, Nakawa West Division, Kampala, NUP), praised the outgoing LOP, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga for his leadership and service, stating that keeping the government in check benefits all parties involved. “Rule 14 (1) of our Rules of Procedure provides that the principle role of the Leader of Opposition is to keep Government in check. By God’s grace, I will execute that mandate effectively and I hope that we shall get support from MPs, not just from my colleagues but the entire House, to do this work. Because you see, keeping Government in check benefits all of us here and the people we represent”. Hon. Ssenyonyi said.

Parliament later confirmed Commissioners, including the outgoing LOP, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga, with the Opposition represented by Hon. Mathias Mpuuga and the NRM by Afoyachan Esther, Solomon Silwany, and Prossy Akampulira from January 2024 to May 2026. However, the approval of Commissioners for the NRM Party drew criticism from Hon. Yorke Alion,(MP, Aringa South County, Yumbe, NRM) who wondered why the party asked MPs to apply for positions as Commissioners when all indications suggested the Party wanted to keep the old team. “In November, the Government Chief Whip requested MPs from NRM to apply for the position of Commissioners. I am reliably informed that over 200 MPs applied. These MPs (Commissioners) were meant to be subjected to an election which hasn’t taken place within the NRM Party. As a Party, we also had a resolution in Kyankwanzi to have our Commissioners undergo primary elections, and then be presented to Parliament”, the Hon. member said. He added “There is no way the Government Chief Whip is going to convince us that of all the NRM MPs we have, that we only have the three MPs who can serve in the capacity of the Commissioner.  There is what we call injustice, there is what we call corruption, and disrespect of the law is taking place on the NRM side. And I want to advise the Government Chief Whip that the step you are taking is going to divide the Party”.

Parliament later approved the extension of the term of office for LCIs and LCIIs for 180 days, effective today. It should be noted that on July 28th, 2023, the government tabled Statutory Instruments extending the tenure of Local Councils for 180 days under Regulation 11A(d) of the Local Government Councils Regulations and Regulation 2(3) of the Schedule to the National Women’s Council Act. The 180 days were to expire on January 5, 2024, prompting the Minister to issue another extension on December 29, 2023.

The Minister of Gender, Hon. Amongi Betty Ongom who is the (MP, Oyam County South, Oyam, UPC), also tabled the Occupational Safety and Health (Amendment) Bill, 2023 for first reading. In response, Speaker Among referred the Bill to the Committee on Gender, Labour and Social Dev’t for scrutiny and report back.

Party Whips later designated Members to the Standing Committees following Rule 158 (1) of the Rules of Procedure. Speaker Anitah objected to Hon. Zaake Francis’ appointment as Deputy Chief Whip in Parliament, citing the lack of the position in Parliament’s Rules of Procedure. “We don’t have that position (Deputy Chief Whip) in our Rules of Procedure. We don’t have it, withdraw it. We have a whip who is your good self, we don’t have a deputy in our Rules of Procedure. That is air, if someone has been given air, that is air”. the Speaker said. This was after John Baptist Nambeshe, Chief Opposition Whip, attempted to designate Zaake for two positions: Shadow Minister of Presidency and Security and Deputy Chief Whip, which the Speaker halted, prompting the Opposition to withdraw its position.

The Speaker afterwards adjourned the House to Thursday, 25th January 2024 at 2:00 pm.

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