On 29th September 2014, hundreds of citizens ranging from students, professional bodies, academia, and business bodies convened at Hotel Africana for a live debate and launch of the midterm assessment of the 9th Parliament a production of the Uganda Governance Monitoring Platform (UGMP) based on the 11 standards espoused in the Citizens Charter for Members of Parliament.
Mr. Richard Ssewakiryanga while giving his welcome remarks stated that citizens give two key things to government; taxes and votes and what they expect in return is better services delivered to them and on the other hand Parliament is given mandate to oversee government activities to which the citizens contribute taxes for and thus the report presents the performance of the 9th parliament against the 11 standards espoused in the Citizens Charter for MPs.
Hon. Paul Mwiru while delivering the Speaker’s speech commended CSOs for taking time to assess the performance of parliament through the Citizen’s Manifesto and he further thanked Uganda National NGO Forum and UGMP for spearheading the process. He noted that Parliament has three basic roles; Legislation, representation and oversight and that it is very crucial citizens understood these key roles in order for there to be a fair assessment of its performance. He further noted that Parliament still faces challenges of influence from executive and separation of powers is no longer visible and as such, caution should be taken when assessing its performance.
Dr. Yasin Okum lecturer of Makerere University welcomed the report and stated that because of the methodology used; the report is authentic and represents the views of Ugandans. His major concern was that Citizens do not know the roles of their MPs and that the MPs have not taken any efforts to let citizens know of their roles and instead they have continued to exhibit themselves as chief mourners, promising to construct bridges and roads, paying school fees among others thus creating a wrong impression and thus nobody should blame citizens for demanding such things from their MPs.
Hon. Jimmy Akena stated that there is no political will by Government to help citizens understand the roles of MPs and this is causing most trouble. He further stressed the issue of equity: that the government should embrace in every affair such salary increment which should be done across all sectors and further called upon CSOs to continue engaging with those who have interest in taking up MP Roles.
During the plenary, citizens expressed their concerns and what was evident was the role of MPs. Citizens decried the poor performance of their MPs, the increased Absenteeism from the house, increased non-attendance to plenary sessions, increased absence from constituents and the increased fronting of party interests in Party caucuses as against the voters’ interests.
In conclusion, the citizens appealed to the Speaker of Parliament to regularly raise the issue of participation and representation on the floor of Parliament and ensure that disciplinary measures are taken for absenteeism, the speaker should lose their constituency seats the moment they are elected to speakership so that they concentrate on serving the people.