Recently, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Jacob Oulanyah, criticised Members of Parliament over the way in which they conduct debates during parliamentary sessions without giving credit to any of them. A debate literally refers to a formal contest which the affirmative and negative sides of a proposition are advocated by speakers. In relation to Oulanyah’s assertion, various parties have described it as pedestrian reasoning, non resourceful, insufficient and un- authoritative.
Justifications such as lower age of some MPs, absence of research assistants, little time allocated to parliamentary sessions and inadequate academic qualifications have been put forward which I don’t agree with. The electorate, for some reasons, has been ignored yet they exercise their power by voting such representatives into Parliament basing on their interests which, to me, are relative. We all know or presumed to know that by virtue of Article 79 of the 1995 Constitution Parliament (Legislature) exercises various functions cardinal of all, passing Bills into law, but which seem to be ignored by the electorate during election of such people and at times those elected. This connotes with Kin Hubbard’s saying that ‘Now and then an innocent man is sent to the legislature’. Implying that people are voted basing on wishes and aspirations of the people who are ignorant of the core duties that come with such an appointment.
People vote MPs because they are popular to a given community, regularly attend social , he or she gives financial support as and when need arises and is very convincing to his or her gullible constituent members. Kinky Friedman once said “How can I look at the Texas legislature and still believe in intelligent design?” If I am to juxtapose the quote into what has been made of today’s Uganda’s Parliament, it will read as follows; “How can I look at Uganda’s Legislature and still believe in intelligent reasoning”. The Ugandan Parliament should borrow a leaf from the American parliamentary debate which places emphasis on quick thinking, logical argumentation and analysis with command of extensive research and collection of sufficient evidence about a given subject under discussion.
In as much as the system of putting up arguments on the floor of Parliament is adversarial, it does not resonate to use of confrontational, abusive and despising language towards the opponent and destruction of documents before the media but rather authoritative and persuasive mode of dispensation of ideas. The Kenyans say “A man who uses force is afraid of reasoning”. I call upon the electorate to always think twice while considering a candidate for a Member of Parliament position.
Makerere University School of Law