By Max Patrick Ocaido
Of late, there has been a huge public debate on whether special interest groups in Parliament especially youth representation is still necessary over 20 years after its enshrinement in the 1995 Constitution.
This affirmative action measure was embedded in the Constitution with the sole purpose of overcoming historical imbalances and marginalization in society. It is also to effectively increase representation of youth interests, that form the majority of Uganda’s population.
In the 10th Parliament, there are five youth MPs namely; Oscar Omony who represents youths in Northern Uganda, Ishma Mafabi Lumolo, Eastern Youth MP, Sarah Kityo Babirye, Central Youth MP, Mwine Mpaka, Western Youth MP and Anna Adeke Ebaju, National Female Youth MP.
Parliamentary records show that more than half of the youth MPs in the 10th parliament are underperforming on the floor of Parliament and inadequately represent the views or lobby for the rights of the youths they represent. Records from the Hansard- the official report of parliament that records all parliamentary proceedings, show that Western Youth MP Mwine Mpaka and National Female Youth MP Anna Adeke, are the most vibrant youth representatives who have frequently raised matters affecting youths in Uganda on the floor of parliament.
The Hansard shows that since the beginning of the 10th parliament in June 2016, Mwine Mpaka has contributed on the floor of parliament 13 times, while Anna Adeke has contributed 10times. Northern Youth MP Oscar Omony comes third having spoken only Six times trailed by Central Youth MP Sarah Kityo who has spoken three times since 2016.
Eastern Youth MP Ishma Mafabi remains the worst performing MP having not spoken at all since coming to parliament. Mafabi, 28, is not only silent on the floor of parliament, but also doesn’t attend parliamentary sittings including committees. He last appeared in the parliament chambers in December 2017 during the passing of age limit bill and only resurfaced in September 2019 after Speaker Rebecca Kadaga issued him a warning letter for being a perpetual absentee in the House.
In terms of representation of youth interests, MPs Adeke and Mpaka are still ranked the best with the two legislators successfully fronting motions regarding sexual violence in institutions of learning in Uganda and ban on all ponzi and pyramid schemes respectively.
Mpaka, 32, recently sought leave of Parliament to introduce a private member’s motion to amend the Uganda Development Bank (Amendment) Act to allow youth have easy access to funds.
Last year, Makerere University lecturer, Prof John Jean Barya in collaboration with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and Kituo Cha Katiba launched a report titled: “Performance of Workers and Youth MPs in Uganda 1995-2015”, where they recommended that, both youth and workers’ MPs are not necessary as they have been “found not to effectively represent workers’ or youth interests in the Multiparty system.”
The Kampala Post has analyzed the Hansard and reproduces excerpts of what the Youth MPs have said on the floor of parliament since 2016;
OSCAR OMONY (NORTHERN UGANDA)
July20, 2016: Over the weekend, I was in Kitgum and we had a meeting with the youth council. The youth of northern Uganda raised the issue of Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is taking down the young people of northern Uganda. They were crying to me that they are paying Shs30,000 for vaccination and yet they cannot afford this. Rt Hon. Prime Minister, how can you intervene to save the lives of these young people of northern Uganda?
Nov22, 2016: I rise to support the motion [on fighting rampant youth unemployment]. We should realise that the percentage of young people in Uganda is high and our country can make good use of them. This is the time we can put them in institutions, equip them with skills and I believe we shall benefit from them…
Dec01, 2016: Madam Speaker, I beg to lay on the Table a report on IOGT International in Cooperation with the Alcohol and Drug Information Centre Conference in Sri Lanka.
Feb 7, 2018: Madam Speaker, I remember you sent us to Sri Lanka with hon. Nambooze to benchmark on regulation of alcohol. I urge you to let hon. Nambooze come and present this Bill because it has all it takes to regulate alcohol in this country.
The issue of regulating alcohol is a very serious one. We are losing a generation of young people due to alcohol. Therefore, there is a lot that the House needs to know on the issue of regulating alcohol through this Bill.
Jun10, 2018: Honourable members, I thank you for your prayers. The person I am going to talk about is not only a colleague but was a father and an uncle to me. I share a very serious relationship with the people of West Nile. The last time I was with hon. Abiriga, we were chatting outside on Thursday. The last thing I remember Uncle Abiriga telling me - he seemed a little disturbed – was, “My son, I am broke.” I told him that if I had some money, I would give him, but things were not okay then…Madam Speaker, what I learnt from the late hon. Abiriga is honesty. Humility takes us places.
March 13, 2019: For the last 20 years, we have seen young mothers and children in northern Uganda suffer. We are now facing a problem in northern Uganda, especially in Gulu. In the last months, you have heard about people committing suicide in northern Uganda. A month ago, there were young children who were beaten up and one person died all because of theft.
These are the effects on the young people who came out of the war and have no sense of direction or no parents to look after them…I urge the Government of Uganda to look into this issue. It is eating up our population in northern Uganda and we are crying for help. Thank you very much.
ANNA ADEKE (NATIONAL FEMALE YOUTH)
Jun22, 2017: I would like to also add my voice to express my gratitude to the committee for a job well done. Specifically, taking it up from where hon. Obua stopped, I would like to emphasize the moral fibre that the Shs 6 billion “handshake” is slowly but surely degenerating…
July18, 2017: I would like to make reference particularly to sexual violence against girls in our country.
I would like to note that the girls in our country have not been protected in any of the settings to which they belong. In the family setting, they are not protected. When they go to school, they are not protected; they are preyed on even while at school. School is supposed to ideally give them a safe environment within which they can stay and probably become useful citizens. However, even while at school, they are preyed on by the educators…
Dec 18,2017: I would like to draw the attention of the Leader of the Opposition to the reading of the rule, which puts the Speaker at the focal point of this discussion, especially on the requirement of her consent.
I would like to appeal to you, Madam Speaker, not to give your consent on this motion.
Feb 08,18: I would like to voice my concern about the issue of putting in place this tribunal on a part-time basis. Of course you know that labour disputes arise in the course of employment. And unless the employment of public servants is going to be part-time, I do not see why this tribunal should be part-time…
April 12,2018: I move motion for a resolution of parliament to inquire into allegations of sexual violence in institutions of learning in Uganda…May it be resolved by Parliament that: Parliament sets up a select committee to investigate allegations of sexual violence in institutions of learning in Uganda and that Parliament fast-tracks the Sexual Offences Bill, 20l5.”
April26,2018: Rt Hon. Prime Minister, I ask this question premised on your response to hon. Akol’s question on refugees, and aware of the considered view on the international humanitarian law provisions on the management of refugee persons.
Have you considered that receiving individuals with a package attached to them amounts to something similar to slave trade or slavery, because you are attaching a prize to human beings?
July 31, 2018: The honourable minister mentioned digitisation in light of employment. I am speaking for the young people of this country and very few young people possess that skill of digitisation, to be able to operate those machines. (Interjection) Yes, majority of them in the countryside were easily retailing airtime scratch cards and it was easier for them than operating machines.
Actually, he has phased out a group of young people who do not possess this skill, which is required to be able to operate those machines.
March 05, 2019: Madam Speaker, on 18 September 2018, while you were chairing, I raised this same issue and I gave names of people of Rwandan origin who had been arrested and I raised the concern about our diplomatic relations with Rwanda in the spirit of the East African Community solidarity.
The Minister of Internal Affairs wrote to me asking me to furnish him with further and better particulars about persons who were detained. I was surprised because I do not own detention centres and neither am I in charge of them. Madam Speaker, your office was copied into that same letter. .. Therefore, is the Prime Minister in order to give us a haphazard response, bearing in mind it is not the first time this issue has been brought to the Floor of Parliament?
May 23, 2019:This petition is moved under Rule 30 of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament of Uganda.[This is a humble petition of the Muslim leaders and communities of Ishaka-Bushenyi against the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) over violation of their freedom to practice their religion] The first prayer is urging the Government to immediately vacate UPDF from Bushenyi main Mosque. Upon your directive, I think it is something that should be taken up by the Office of the Prime Minister…
MWINE MPAKA (WESTERN UGANDA)
Oct 6, 2016: I stand to second the motion. That Rent Act was passed against the political turmoil and international tension resulting from the Great War of 1950s. The purpose of which was to remove restrictions and cure the problem of shortages of accommodation by giving private landlords leverage to charge rent that was adequate to maintain property, make returns and investment on property…
Nov22,2016: According to the information on the Uganda National Council for Higher Education website, there are over 280 institutions in this country. Among them, we have 105 private tertiary institutions, 52 public tertiary institutions, seven Government universities and 39 private universities…We have grappled with the issue of youth unemployment for a very long time. I kindly beg this House to grant the mover of this motion leave to introduce a private Member’s Bill.
Feb 15,18: I beg to move a motion seeking leave to introduce a Private Member’s Bill [The Uganda Development Bank (Amendment) Act:]
Feb 29,18: There are basically three main reasons why we need to amend the Uganda Development Bank Act. One is to combine all the various youth programmes and their current financing into one repository. The second is the need to include, in the UDB Act, provisions that refer specifically to the youth and youth development activities so as to incorporate them in the national development agenda…
Nov 29, 2018: I rise to move a motion for a resolution of Parliament urging Government to ban all ponzi and pyramid schemes...
Dec 06,2018: Last week, Parliament passed a resolution to ban all Pyramid and Ponzi Schemes. We went further to write to the Financial Intelligence Authority to provide Parliament with certified copies of all the 18 active Ponzi Schemes in the country. This is the report I would like to lay at the Table. I beg to lay…
March14,2019: I rise on a matter of national importance concerning the distribution, sale and consumption of sachet waragi…
Therefore, can the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives come up with a statement on Government’s readiness to implement this ban to the effect that by 1 June 2019, there will be no more distribution, sale and consumption of sachet waragi?
May29,2019: I rise on a matter of national importance concerning girl-child prostitution in western Uganda, specifically Mbarara, as quoted by today’s Daily Monitor. Madam Speaker, prostitution is illegal, according to section 136 of the Penal Code Act.
We have women nicknamed “aunties” in Mbarara who own between 10 to 20 young girls and they sell these girls through owners of bars and lodges at Shs 50,000 within Mbarara and Shs 100,000 outside Mbarara. Can the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development come up with an action plan to curb this vice as soon as possible before it spreads to other parts of the country and report back to this House?
Jun 25,2019: I have been a Member of the Committee on Gender, Labour and Social Development since inception of the Tenth Parliament. Our committee has been blocked by the Government of Saudi Arabia for three times, from visiting our girls working there… However, between 20th December and 15th March, this system crashed.
We now do not know how many girls left the country during that period.
Dec, 10,2019: I move a motion to institute an inquiry into the status of the Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies Monitoring Fund.
SARAH BABIRYE KITYO (CENTRAL UGANDA)
Sept14,2016: I have two issues to raise. We have talent and we all know that. However, we need to go an extra mile. Let us not look at sports only but all talents. We have very many young people who can sing but have no money to go to studios to record their music. If Government can only partner with those studios that are already there and pay them small money, I think these talents can be nurtured. Alternatively, we can set up a regional studio, which I think is cheaper…
Jul18, 2017: There is one thing that the young people of this country have always suffered from; when you go to court and you have a case to do with rape or sexual harassment or anything related to that, you realise that these children are asked some funny questions in court. You find that someone is already hurt but when she goes to court seeking justice, the judge or lawyers are busy asking her, “What happened?” “How did it start?” They make the girl look very funny. Sometimes the questions are vulgar…