MPs behaviour shows corruption has infiltrated the Legislature
Posted Monday, February 25 2013 at 02:00
Effective leadership is critical for the Parliament seems to be the spring board for dishonesty. So, will Parliament spread sanity that it does not have? What values do such honourable MPs espouse?
On Wednesday, February 20, with dismay, I read a story that ran in the Daily Monitor about Members of Parliament signing the attendance register but not attending Plenary session. It was reported that 247 MPs out of the total of 375 signed the attendance register but less than 30 were in the parliamentary chamber. Among those who registered and vanished included four ministers! This shows that corruption has pitched tent on the floor of the House. Any MP who stands up to say there is no corruption in Parliament is equally corrupt.
This is the paradox where the Legislative House is unable to live above the menace of corruption. Time and again, parliamentarians have been engulfed by allegations of bribery to support certain interests of the Executive on the floor of the House. Parliament and her Public Accounts Committee have been spending time deliberating on corrupt practices in the different institutions of government. So, how will they continue with this role when the members are dented? Doesn’t this severely affect the legislative oversight of the institution? Doesn’t this behaviour threaten the gains of good governance and democracy? This is a paradoxical situation.
We must understand that the popularity of Parliament must be divorced from crooked street behaviour. Signing the attendance register and vanishing to do personal business with the intension of coming back to claim sitting allowance is defrauding taxpayers. That means that these MPs would be paid for a job not done. For lack of a better word, this is robbery. Indeed, Parliament should be a vehicle for spreading sanity across all arms of government.
By the current happenings, Parliament seems to be the spring board for dishonesty. So, will Parliament spread sanity that it does not have? What values do such honourable MPs espouse? What do their voters and supporters learn from them? How accountable are they to their constituencies? What do they want to be remembered for? It is really unfortunate and regrettable that Ugandans are represented by such individuals who are mercilessly mudslinging the institution of Parliament.
It should be noted that this kind of pervasiveness of the Legislature is a microcosm of what our society is. If anything, this happens in most institutions in the country, including local government councils.
This pervasion erodes citizens’ trust and confidence in the institution of Parliament. This social malady in Parliament arises from the tendency for politicians to conceive politics as a source of income not service for the people they lead. Politics is seen as a means for self-aggrandizement. It has become monetised and every politician sees what he/she has spent in the process as an investment that must be recouped with interest. Thus the surest way to recoup the investment is to be a “double-dealer”, which leads to perversion of integrity. This is a serious threat to the Legislature and the democratic process in this country.
If serious measures to bring the House to order are not taken, this behaviour is likely to cripple the Legislature and lead this country to democratic regression. Parliament is supposed to be a collective defender and watchdog of the aspiration, ideals and collective will of the people. It is important that MPs as individuals uphold and appreciate legislative integrity in order to sustain the values of good governance and democracy.
Mr Mbabazi is a Researcher.