House attendance will be a factor in future Cabinet vetting, says Speaker
Following the premature adjournment of Parliament yesterday over no-show of Ministers, Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, has said attendance will be a factor in vetting nominees to Cabinet, in a latest onslaught on front benchers dodging plenary.
During the Thursday September 7, 2023, Speaker Among said the issue of perennial absence of Ministers violate the Rules of Procedure, and that she will notify the President about the non-attending members of Cabinet.
“Rule 114 of the Rules of Procedure requires Ministers to attend sittings of the House and where one is unable to attend, he or she shall request another Minister to represent that Ministry’s interests in the House and notify the Speaker accordingly; I will bring this to the attention of the Chief Executive of this country [President Museveni],” she said.
Several ministers were in attendance during the sitting.
“The failure of some Ministers to regularly attend and participate in House Business is an abdication of responsibility and a breach of public trust; the leadership responsibilities that we hold are in public trust and we should therefore work for the common good,” she added.
Only the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Hon Janet Museveni, she said, had written to communicate her absence from the House, and accordingly assigned the Minister of State for Education and Sports (Sports) Hon Peter Ogwang to sit in for her.
Upping efforts to decisively deal with the lack of attendance from the front bench, Speaker Among has asked the Committee on Appointments to consider attendance as a factor in vetting nominees to Cabinet.
“Next time we are vetting, we shall consider the issue of attendance; I am happy that Members of the Appointments Committee are here; those Ministers who will be moved to other Ministries, we shall consider attendance,” she said.
Third Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Rukia Nakadama, apologized on behalf of Cabinet, promising future compliance.
“We shall improve on the time keeping so that we are always here on time,” she said.
But MP Solomon Silwany (NRM, Bukooli County Central), who has in the past consistently complained about non-attendance by Ministers, was not convinced.
“This is not the first time the Hon Nakadama is coming to apologise here when we do not have Ministers in the House; I am on record raising the issue of the absence of Ministers from this House; can the Prime Minister commit that what happened will never happen again?” he said.
Speaker Among said Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja telephoned her with apologies for the absence, promising to crack the whip on her subordinates.
MPs to go on recess
Speaker Among also sent Parliament on full recess commencing Friday September 7, 2023, and asked Members to listen to their constituents and address their concerns.
“…at the end of today’s sitting, we will go on recess until 28th September 2023; unlike previous recess periods where some Committees continued to transact business, this recess will be an absolute one; I expect all of you to head to your constituencies to monitor the implementation of government programmes,” she said.