News of yet another expansion of Parliament – this time to create space for representatives of the elderly – has, once again, been received with opprobrium. Teeth have been gnashed, ashes liberally applied, bark cloth hewn, sewn and worn.
The land echoes with the dirges of injustices suffered, and sighs with the weariness of old bones rattled. The natives are less than pleased.
Do not be discouraged, brethren. Some of this anger is merely ageism. If the youth, eternally promised to be the leaders of tomorrow, can be represented in Parliament today, why not those of yesterday who just happen to also be of today?
The fact that Parliament and Cabinet are already filled with a large number of the elderly is old news. Space must be found for the voice of the village elders to be heard – even if it is a hoarse and barely audible whisper.
Down with discrimination! In fact, your columnist proposes that, in this, the month of August, other special interest groups are also taken into consideration and given seats in the August House.
For instance, purveyors of adult forms of entertainment have long cried out for the chance to meet their clients in daylight; why not move them from the bedchamber to the chamber? Here they can air their grievances and, in the event of their emoluments being less than expected, demonstrate on the steps of Parliament in varying degrees of undress while stripping the House of whatever dignity it will have then.
But we can do more. Boda boda riders have no one to speak for them – apart from their venture capital masters, of course – so they can have a seat as long as they discard their sordid jackets for more appropriate attire and promise to acquaint their bodies with aqua more regularly.
Taxi drivers and conductors cannot be relied upon not to use profanities so their admission can initially be as observers, or hecklers from the stranger’s gallery.
If they can agree among themselves, religious groups can also get a couple of seats as long as they promise not to be too sanctimonious, drone on for hours, or repeatedly claim they foresaw this Bill or that motion coming.
Who is missing? Let’s see: Ah, teachers! Yes, teachers can have a seat at the front, near the Speaker, where a chalkboard can be installed for their MP to write down her points then rub them in haste before anyone else has read them.
We will have to pass on doctors, I’m afraid. We don’t have enough of them and they are more useful in hospitals when they find time away from their private clinics. They should, however, be allowed to send in their proposals in writing; these will be seriously considered if anyone can read their handwriting.
The Army already has reps so I don’t see why the Uganda Police Force and the Uganda Prisons Service don’t get their own MPs. These should sit on the Public Accounts Committee to arrest errant or mendacious witnesses and lock them up in the basement of Parliament.
MPs representing maids and housekeepers would be useful, but they would not come back to the House after recess, so we will have to pass.
Men with potbellies are marginalised and need to weigh in on parliamentary debates; give them two seats. Women with big bums can also get a pair of seats, or can simply sit on the floor.
Drunkards, pimps, shylocks and scoundrels are already over represented so they should trust their current MPs. Real estate brokers can’t be trusted not to bring the same Bill to different committees so they will wait outside, although surely we must find space for single mothers, as long as they don’t sit together.
Traditional ‘doctors’ can have three MPs if they promise not to smoke their multi-headed pipes inside the Chamber or make inappropriate demands, like asking for blue goats before endorsing cabinet white papers!
Short men wouldn’t take up too much space, but their egos would fill the Chamber so they can wait outside. Short women, on the other hand, are gifted in the art of argumentation and will spice up debates; they can be allowed to crawl under the seats.
We’ve run out of thhpeth for people with lisps, thadly, but we will consider them when Parliament moves to the more spacious Mandela National Stadium in 2026. By then we will have agreed on MPs to represent the dead and the unborn.
Down with discrimination, long-live parliamentary seats for all!
Mr Kalinaki is a journalist and poor man’s freedom fighter.