Friday November 30 2012

Top ministers caught on film in House chaos

By Sheila Naturinda & ISAAC IMAKA

The Rules and Privileges committee has so far identified five ministers among the MPs who took part in the chaotic scenes that broke out in Parliament during Tuesday’s heated debate on the oil Bill.

Those identified during the first day of the investigation into the matter yesterday are Attorney General Peter Nyombi, Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga, Junior Foreign Affairs Minister Okello Oryem, Government Chief Whip Kasule Lumumba, Youth Minister Ronald Kibuule and Primary Health Care Minister Sarah Opendi.

Other legislators named include: Aruu County MP Odonga Otto, Kitgum Woman MP Beatrice Anywar, Opposition chief Whip Winnie Kizza, Wafula Oguttu (Bukhooli Central), Odo Tayebwa (Ishaka), David Bahati (Ndorwa), Harriet Ntabazi (Bundibugyo), Vincent Kyamadidi (Rwampara) and Florence Namayanja (Bukoto).
Those cited will be asked to appear before the Rules committee.

Following the Tuesday chaos Speaker Rebecca Kadaga on Wednesday ordered the Rules and Privileges Committee to investigate the matter and propose disciplinary actions by Monday next week.

The Speaker asked for the identification of MPs who attempted to grab the Mace from the Sergeant-at-Arms and those could have exhibited gross disorderly behaviour (rowdy conduct and heckling). However, committee members yesterday resolved to ask Ms Kadaga for more time and to also lift the suspension on parliamentary proceedings. “Let’s ask the Speaker and plead with her to resume House business which isn’t as explosive as the oil debate because there is a practical difficulty on our hands since it seems everyone in the House was unruly,” said Mr Medard Sseggona (Busiro East).

The Rules committee was also split on the legality of the Speaker’s directive. Some MPs said she didn’t respect Rule 163(1a) of the House Rules of Procedure which provides that: “it shall be the duty of the committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline by the order of the House to inquire into any complaint of contempt of Parliament or breach of privilege….”

MPs’ take
The MPs say the Speaker’s order was not an order of the whole House. Others, however, felt that Ms Kadaga was in order in respect to Rule 163(1b) which says: “it shall be the duty of the committee to consider any matter of discipline referred to it by the Speaker or the House …” The MPs agreed to refer the matter to the Parliament legal team.

Maj. Gen. (rtd) Jim Muhwezi (Rujumbura) observed that “going by what happened, this could be just symptoms of more serious underlying problems between Parliament and the Executive so we need to take our time and make a good report.”

During the review of video footage of the chaotic scenes, MPs disagreed on whether there was an attempt to grab the Mace, which is a symbol of the Speaker’s authority.

Although the videos recordings provided by the Hansard Department and the Public relations Office show the Sergeant-at-Arms and the Parliament door men standing around the Mace it does not clearly show any MP attempting to grab it.

“May be the Sergeant was acting on anticipation that someone may grab the Mace and so he was doing his job by standing there,” said Committee Chairman Fox Odoi (West Budama North). “The Hansard department says the rules only mandate them to capture the Speaker, the members on the floor debating and never to capture any scandalous moments of the House.”

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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