MP cautions colleagues against mixing party interests with parliamentary work

Legislators who chair committees of Parliament have been cautioned against ‘smuggling’ political party interests into parliamentary activities.

This was echoed by Bugweri County MP, Abdu Katuntu end of last week during a training of chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of committees of Parliament at Golf Course Hotel, Kampala.

Katuntu was one of the facilitators at the training and citing his 20 years’ experience as a Member of Parliament told MPs that the tendency of political parties to influence business of parliament is not new and that it must be fought if the 11th Parliament is to make a difference.

 “If you think you are going to manage committees from your respective party headquarters, you will be the worst chairperson because parties want you to play politics,” said Katuntu.

He noted that for the period he chaired various committees, he observed that one had to stick to Rules of Procedures to defend Parliament from some malicious persons.

He also said there is a temptation of chairpersons to impose their party ideas on committee members saying such leaders will often face opposition and affect committee work.

 “If for instance you are an NRM chairperson, chairing a committee with members from the opposition, don’t impose your ideas on them, they will oppose you. Chair the committees knowing you are dealing with Members of Parliament,” he said.

Busiro County East MP, Medard Ssegona said that their legacy in Parliament lies in holding onto the Rules of Procedures of Parliament as opposed to what he termed as ‘bending too much to impress’.

On how he has handled pressure of his party (NUP), Ssegona said, “Ihave not received pressure from Kamwokya,; perhaps it is because when they appointed me, they expected me to lead according to the rules. Sometimes, we over bend to accommodate a person, that is when we get compromised”.

He told chairpersons that it will not be feasible for them to try to impress committee members, political parties, Parliament and voters at the same time.

Rosemary Nyakikongoro, who chairs the Defense and Internal Affairs committee, wondered how committees are able to defend themselves from the influence of the executive especially while carrying out field activities.

“If you are in the field, do you uphold the rules of procedures or you leave them here?  How do you handle a situation where you find a member of the executive in the field who tries to usurp powers of the committee?” asked Nyakikongoro.

Ssegona advised chairpersons to focus on what benefits the committee, urging them not to attack members of the executive.

 “There is a lot of power in humility; if he fails to cooperate with you, if you ask and he refuses to respond, just ignore and write your report,” Ssegona said.

The training for chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of Parliamentary committees is aimed at boosting the leadership potential of the new chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of committees of Parliament.

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