Parliament has granted leave to Kabale Municipality MP, Andrew Baryayanga to introduce a private member’s bill titled, “The Administration of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2018” which among others seeks to provide for election of Leader of Opposition in Parliament (LOP).
The motion seeking leave to introduce the Bill was seconded by Busiro East Legislator, Medard Segona.
Baryayanga said that, “the objective of the Bill is to amend the Administration of Parliament Act to increase membership of the Commission; to provide for the manner of choosing the back bench Members of the Commission, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Opposition Whip and all Party Whips.”
The Bill also seeks to establish the office of Deputy Leader of Opposition and Deputy Chief Opposition Whip and to provide for the tenure of party Whips.
While highlighting the defects in the current law, the legislator noted that in designating the backbench members of the Commission, the Administration of Parliament Act allocated only one position to be filled by the opposition yet the party in government was allocated three positions.
“Furthermore, the provision did not take into account the existence of other shades of opinion in Parliament including independent Members and special interest groups,” he said.
“This state of affairs has led to the subjugation of the views of the opposition and other shades of opinion on the Commission considering that the other members of the Commission, being the Speaker, the Minister responsible for Finance, the Prime Minister and the three back bench members of the Commission are drawn from the party in Government”.
The Bill regards the manner in which the back bench members of the Commission are selected as not transparent and that there is no accountability of the back bench members to Members of Parliament whose interests they represent.
The Administration of Parliament Act requires the four backbench members of the Commission to be nominated by their parties and chosen through an elective process, rule 11 (4) of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament requires that the back bench members are designated by their party whips.
“The manner in which the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament is designated and removed is not transparent, has led to the subjugation of the views of other opposition political parties in Parliament, has made it impossible for the opposition members to hold the Leader of Opposition in Parliament accountable and has resulted in the Leader of Opposition in Parliament not enjoying security of tenure.”
“It is important to note that whereas section 68 of the Administration of Parliament Act requires the Leader of Opposition in Parliament to be determined through an elective process, currently that is not the case since he or she is merely designated by the party with the highest numerical strength among opposition parties in Parliament and is imposed on the opposition Members of Parliament without their will and consent.”
The Bill notes that likewise when it comes to the removal of the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, he or she is removed by the party at any time and without the consent or consultation of other opposition political parties as well as opposition members of Parliament.
It adds that whereas the Leader of Opposition is drawn from the party in opposition to Government with the greatest numerical strength among opposition political parties, such a person embodies and represents views of the opposition parties in Parliament.
“Therefore, the Leader of Opposition should be determined and removed from office through a process that is transparent and takes into account the views and aspirations of the opposition parties in Parliament as well as guaranteeing security of tenure for the Leader of the Opposition.”
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kdaga said that when the Administration of Parliament Law was enacted, there were no political parties. She went ahead to ask Members to allow Baryayanga draft the bill which she said will later be discussed.