By Suzan Kabarwani
Last week ,there was a vital issue that was somehow distracted by Uhuru celebrations in Rukungiri district .The visiting dignitaries ,Col Kiiza Besigye’s unique attendance ,the walking out ,arrest and detention .All was interesting .But this is what we left on table .The previous day had been a hot day for parliament in which the Deputy Speaker of Parliament ,Jacob Oulanyah apologized to parliament over the NO OFFENCE or MISCONDUCT of the four members of the house .It was interesting news for the press, yet it presented our dear parliament as an orphaned child, who is beaten hard ,with no parent to report to. The institution was presented as a weak one, yet supposed to be the strongest in the country. It was like the summation of loopholes in the Ugandan parliament that have been ignored for a long time, yet they impact a lot to citizens.
With this, I just remembered the importance of an impartial parliamentary commission for parliament and the state not merely a parliamentary commission mostly comprising of members of parliament like the one we have .The current commission is comprised of the Speaker of parliament,Speaker Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, the Leader of Government Business , Leader of Opposition , the Minister of Finance ,Hon. Maria Kiwanuka, and four back bench members.
The simple –or complicated issue that lagged parliament business for days with no resolution made, would have been handled by an impartial parliamentary commission, perhaps comprising of two judges (to interpret the laws of parliament, other statutes in line with the constitution of Uganda), two impartial politicians (not members of parliament), one popular senior citizen, and one army official.Such people would have judged the case between Jacob Oulanyah and the suspended members of parliament Ibrahim Semujju Nganda, the Kyadondo East MP, Theodre Sekikubo, Lwemiyaga County, Odonga Otto, Aruu County and Soroti Woman MP Angelline Osegge and delivered a fair verdict to the citizens of Uganda. Fine ! Jacob Oulanyah made a drastic end of the story –apologizing on behalf of those who could not. This does not solve the problem at all. There could be other disputes between members of parliament ,parliamentary leaders and the MPs unknown to the press, yet ,may not be solved by the current commission but another strong group of people outside parliament.
Besides dealing with disputes between or among members of parliament,parliament leaders like the Speaker ,Deputy or a leader of the opposition and MPs , an impartial Parliamentary Commission would help in checking parliament’s spending. Parliament does a great work of checking the spending of other government institutions and ministries, but it almost checks itself something unfair to tax payers.
Let us also consider recruitment at parliament .Apart from the people we send to parliament to represent us, there are other employees and service providers at parliament. Such a commission would look through such recruitments to see that they have no tribal, friendship or party leanings for the benefit of Ugandans.A proper way to select members of this parliamentary commission would be for names to be suggested by parliament and the public through different media outlets, such that they can be vetted by our dear representatives of parliament.