As lawmakers marked 100 years of Parliament yesterday, some Ugandans on social media were calling for the release of “political prisoners”.
They accused the lawmakers of being oblivious to the problems facing the country.
Mr Gerald Muluya, a citizen who joined the debate through Twitter, called for urgent reforms saying Parliament continues to pass laws that do not bite.
“What is there to celebrate anyways? Ms Jolly Kiruz asked, and wonders whether it makes sense for Ugandans to go ahead and cerebrate 100 years of Parliament’s existence in the country yet the MPs continue to pay deaf ear to the cries of families whose relatives have either been killed, kidnapped or tortured,” he said.
Others, like a one #Akandwanaho called for radical reforms to reduce the number of MPs in Parliament and saying: “The seven pioneer LEGCO members were more valuable than the more than 500 MPs expected in 11th Parliament.”
However, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said: “The evolution has witnessed growth in mandate [of Parliament], size and impact. I salute past and present Speakers, Deputies, MPs and staff for their roles.”
She urged MPs to continuously push for the citizens’ common good.
Ms Kadaga, without delving into details, also said 100 years later, “We are in charge of our affairs and no longer spectators.”
Public Service Minister Wilson Muruli Mukasa, said: “Today, citizens have taken centre stage in the affairs of Parliament…. Parliament which has evolved through hard times, has achieved a lot towards the development of independent Uganda.”
MPs speak out
Dr Chris Baryomunsi (Kinkizi East) said: “We need to strengthen the office of the MP. The next Parliament should explore the revival of the Constituency Development Fund. These issues should be looked at to allow MPs to do their work.” Dr Baryomunsi said.
Jinja Municipality East MP Paul Mwiru said: “In the future, we need to ensure recommendations of Parliament on Auditor General’s reports be mandatory and binding to the government but not as advisory from Parliament,”
He said the current provisions of the law only give Parliament, whose public accounts committees scrutinise the Auditor General’s report, only an advisory role to the government on what actions should be taken.
Ms Naume Kibaaju (Sheema North) raised concern over the persistent absence of ministers during plenary sittings, adding that the next Parliament should come up with stringent rules of procedure to deal with such behaviour which has always seen the House work stagnate at some point.