Rampant Absenteeism of Ministers, MPs Frustrates Plenary Sessions

Persistent absenteeism of Members of Parliament and the Ministers alike who habitually abscond plenary sessions in Parliament is impeding progress of the House in expeditiously handling pertinent matters on the day’s order paper.

Concerned lawmakers raised their grievances to the Speaker Anita Among during plenary sitting on Wednesday saying Ministers have continually absconded from several sittings of the House, a direct breach to rules 42 of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament.

Joseph Gonzaga Ssewungu, the Kalungu County West Member of Parliament says he has raised several issues that have been pending for the last six months among which includes the plight of over 30 primary schools in his constituency that are operating without pit latrines.

Ssewungu says he has sought a response from the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja who is the leader of Government business in Parliament on the matter but to no avail, adding that several other cabinet Ministers abscond or intentionally arrive late for plenary sessions without communication.

The Leader of Opposition in Parliament – LoP, Mathias Mpuuga noted that the Office of the Prime Minister – OPM with three Deputies is equally marred by absenteeism thus have failed to whip the Ministers who are continually absent during plenaries thus stifling the House business.

In response, the Government Chief Whip, Hamson Denis Obua, who doubles as the Ajuri County Member of Parliament in Alebtong District apologized to the House for the rampant absenteeism of Ministers and lambasted them for not prioritizing Parliament work.

The legislators are concerned that while Parliament conducts plenary sittings thrice a week starting from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, it remains ridiculous for all the 30 Cabinet Ministers and 50 of their deputies to abscond from plenary sessions.

On Tuesday, the Speaker Among adjourned the first meeting of the House prematurely following the absence of Ministers and legislators during plenary prompting her to issue a warning to lawmakers who dodge plenary sittings, describing it as an of ‘misuse of taxpayers’ money.

Among directed the Clerk to Parliament, Adolf Mwesige Kasaija to keep a tally of the attendance of Members of Parliament so that absentees are openly exposed to the public and consequently have action taken against them.

While errant Ministers can be removed through censor motion by Parliamentarians, a legislator who misses plenary sittings for 15 consecutive times without authorization from the Speaker risks losing her or his seat as a punitive measure.

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