A lot of issues have indeed characterised Parliament’s business and service to Ugandans in the year 2018.
These have been done in line with their mandate as provided by law which among others is; to pass laws for the good governance of Uganda, to provide, by giving legislative sanctions taxation and acquisition of loans.
To as well scrutinize government policy and administration, to debate matters of topical interest usually highlighted in the President’s State of the Nation Address and to vet the appointment of persons nominated by the President under the Constitution or any other enactment.
A number of Bills were passed by the 10th Parliament in the year 2018 which among others include; the Bio-safety and Bio-chemicals Bill, the Sugar Bill, The National Environment Bill, Supplementary Bill, Investiment Code Bill, Data Protection and Privacy Bill, Civil Aviation Bill and the Mental Health Bill, 2014.
The Administration of Parliament Amendment Bill, 2018 was given a nod to be introduced by a private member while the Uganda National Health Laboratory and Services Bill, 2016, The Land Acuqisition Bill and the Retirement Benefit Bill were withdrawn on orders of the Minister.
However, it is perhaps the passing of the The Excise Duty Amendment Bill 2018, in May that attracted significant public attention. The amendments introduced a 1% tax on every transaction made by phone users on Mobile Money platforms and Shs 200 (daily) on social media. The levies considered by many as outrageous sparked wide public outrage from opposition legislators, rights campaigners, the business community, as well as social media users.
November saw, major changes in the opposition leadership at Parliament which left the then Leader of Opposition in Parliament (LOP), Winnie Kiiza sacked and replaced by Gulu Woman MP, Betty Aol Ocan.
The changes went as far as changing the shadow cabinet which saw a number of independent MPs picked while some opposition MPs declined to the appointments.
In the same reshuffle, leadership of several committees changed, notable Al them the dropping of the Chairperson of the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), Abdu Katuntu and his deputy, Anita Among.
The two were replaced by Mubarak Munyagwa and Moses Kasibante respectively, however, these changes have since met resistance.
The changes in committees were most effective in the session committees where the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga suspended all the committee members on the Trade Committee.
Other business that transpired in the House include; the on-going probe into the irregular closure of the seven defunct banks by Bank of Uganda (BOU), the appointment of new Commissioners whose appointment is still pending given the new amendments in the Administration of Parliament Act recently.
During the year, Kadaga was hailed for her stance against homosexuality related debate during the 139th Interparliamentary Union Assembly in Geneva, prompting a section of MPs to propose that she stands for presidency.
As well, Parliament did not accord the late former Attorney General, Nyombi Tembo a special sitting despite allowing him to lay in State in the Parliament building.
In the year 2018, Parliament held a special sitting to pay tribute to the late former Arua Municipality MP, Ibrahim Abiriga whose murder left a number of legislators in shock with some receiving numerous murder threats. These included Connie Galiwango, Gerald Karuhanga and Moses Kasibante among others.
In the wake of persistent media reports relating to rampant sexual harassment at Makerere University, Parliament set up a select committee chaired by Robinah Rwakojo to investigate the rampant sexual violence in schools and higher institutions of learning. The motion was introduced by the Youth MP, Anna Adeke Ebajju.
The 10th Parliament also debated the torture and detention of fellow legislators in Gulu and suspended the House for several sittings daring the President to repsond to a letter that was written by Kadaga requsting for explaination on the torture.
Former Terego County MP, Kasiano Wadri was sworn in replacing the late Col. Ibrahim Abiriga for Arua municipality seat who was murdered on his way home in Kawanda.
While deliberating on the 2018/2019 budget, Parliament passed ban on importation of old vehicles.
The House also debated and recommended the scrapping of the pre-entry exams to Law school.
Notably was a feud between the junior Minister for Lands, Princes Persis Namuganza with the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga over enthronement of Bukono chief which ended up being investigated by a committee.