By Max Patrick Ocaido
PARLIAMENT. Over 50 MPs have reportedly been served with warning letters over perpetual absenteeism from parliamentary committee activities.
According to a source, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga started issuing stern warning letters to MPs in June and the affected MPs are expected to explain in writing why they have absconded from their constitutional duties.
On resumption of the 3rd Session of the 10th Parliament, Kadaga is expected to read out the names of the absentee MPs on the floor in accordance with Rule 111(7) of the Rules of Procedure which states that, the Speaker shall, if it comes to his or her attention that a Member is consistently absent from the sittings of the House without permission, give a written warning to the Member which warning shall, in addition, be read during a sitting of Parliament.
It should be remembered that in May, Kadaga vowed to name and shame absentee ministers and MPs who have missed plenary and committee sittings without permission. This was after complaints of an empty House persisted affecting even ministers who perennially dodged plenary sittings.
- Most Absentee, Silent Ministers on Floor of Parliament Named
- SPECIAL REPORT: Over 100 MPs Who Didn’t Say a Word In 2017 Named
- Absentee Ministers, MPs in Trouble as Speaker Kadaga Compiles List
While holding a live Tweeter Chat to discuss the performance of the House in the 2nd session ended June, Kadaga said she had finalized the list of absentees and would issue letters to the respective members.
MPs in Panic
As we speak, several MPs who have received the warning letters are gripped with panic and scratching their heads for an explanation to the Speaker.
One of the victims of absenteeism is Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze, who is currently in India for treatment after falling sick in police cells following her arrest for offensive communication over Ibrahim Abiriga’s murder.
In a letter dated June 7, Kadaga revealed that Nambooze absented herself from 19 out of the 23 meetings of the Committee on Public Service and Local Government without permission.
“Your absence from the meetings of the committee affected its work and undermined the performance of Parliament in general,” Kadaga said.
Rule 111(6) of the Rules of Parliament state that, “Except with the permission of the Speaker, a Member shall not absent himself or herself from fifteen or more sittings of the House during any period when the House is continuously meeting,” Kadaga’s letter reads.
She adds, “This is therefore to notify that persistent absence from Committee activities in the next Session will attract proceedings against you under Rules 111(7) and 112(2) of the Rules of Procedure.”
Under Rule 111(3), the Speaker has the leverage to suspend a member from the committee if he or she continues to be absent from the meetings of the committee even after the issuance of a warning letter.
Kadaga is also expected to name and shame MPs and ministers who miss plenary sittings.