Question Time: Amama gives MPs a run-around

Whereas the Premier is usually short and precise in his answers, some questions asked on Wednesday drew him into lengthy reponses with some getting him off guard.

Friday July 25 2014

Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi responds to questions

Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi responds to questions from House members on Wednesday at Parliament. The session was treated to laughter, lengthy, short and precise answers. Photo by Geoffrey Sseruyange. 

By Isaac Imaka

PARLIAMENT-Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Question Time was not the usual winding and repetitive session typical of the last two sessions.

The Premier responded with one-word answers to people like Buliisa MP Mukitale Birahwa who is used to long-winding statements instead of concise questions.

He responded with abruptness to questions from younger MPs like Luweero District Woman MP Brenda Nabukenya.

And notably, he responded with authority and concern when questions about the Kanungu arrests were raised.

Whatever approach he chose for whichever question, the House was kept on its toes.

In the seat was Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, who had entered the chambers at 2pm, only to find less than 10 members in the House.

“Honourable members it is 3 O’clock. It is the proper time for us to handle the Prime Minister’s Question Time. The Prime Minister is here; we have one hour and we will stop at 4pm,” he said.

But Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Nsubuga could not allow the Premier to proceed before delivering a response to his last week’s question.

“Procedure Mr Speaker,” he said. “Is the Prime Minister right to proceed without responding to a question I asked about why a Democratic Party chairman in Karugutu was arrested and taken to court martial yet he is not a soldier?”

“Is that a procedural matter?” the Deputy Speaker wondered, eliciting laughter in the House. “If it was the Prime Minister’s undertaking, has he failed to do so for you to raise a procedural matter? Please let’s use the time properly members.”

Just like the many MPs who misuse the point of procedural privilege, the Masaka Municipality MP had gaffed! True, the Premier had promised to consult and return with a response but it was wrong of him to raise a procedural matter before knowing what the Premier was going to talk about.

He paid the price for that—the question was not answered.
“Buliisa,” the Deputy Speaker called out on Mr Mukitale to start the asking.

True to form, Mr Mukitale set out with a winding two-minute preamble.

“Government has been saying that it will build a sustainable non-oil economy even during the onset of the oil sector and it is also confirmed in our oil policy. Unfortunately, in Bunyoro, whereas we have tourism, we have agriculture, we have fisheries, we have a community which has been waiting for a road…,” he went on.
“Honourable member what is your question?” the Speaker interjected.

“Right Honourable Prime Minister, can we know if government has diverted from developing a non-oil economy to only oil?” he eventually asked.
“The answer is no,” the premier responded and promptly resumed his seat.

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