NATIONAL: In a democracy, it is often said that people get the leaders they deserve and deserve the leaders they get. It is also true that a constituency is as good as its legislator implying that the 41 legislators representing Busoga sub-region in the current Parliament are the very best our region can produce.
As the current Parliament approaches its mid-term mark, this newspaper rummaged through the Hansard, the official record of Parliament, and found that while legislators like Bugiri Municipality’s Asuman Basalirwa and Jinja South Division West legislator Timothy Lusala have consistently hit the bull’s eye when it comes to contribution on the plenary as well as committee seatings, there are legislators who have kept mute yet they continue to draw the hefty salaries accrued to Members of Parliament.
The scorecard reveals that Hon Basalirwa tops Busoga MPs with a contribution of 348 times and he is closely followed by NRM’s Solomon Silwany who has spoken 306 times in the two-and-a half`years. Bunya West’s Aggrey Bagiire holds the flag of silence with zero contribution on the floor of Parliament and zero contribution in the committees.
“We are 549 legislators and everybody is given two minutes, it becomes difficult for one to get the eye of the Speaker. I think it would be better to consider attendance instead of the number of times an MP speaks on the floor,” James Kubeketerya, the Bunya East legislator, said.
Kubeketerya, who has spoken nine times in the 11th Parliament, says speaking in Parliament depends on the topic on the floor and one does not have to contribute to every topic.
But Bugabula South legislator, Henry Maurice Kibalya, says there are legislators who naturally fear the microphone.
“There are people who fear to speak for fear of the public laughing at them. They don’t trust their English and prefer to save their egos by keeping quiet. I am sure you also had such students in class,” Hon Kibalya says.
Kibalya is one of Busoga’s outspoken legislators and according to the Hansard records that this newspaper has seen, he has spoken 81 times in the two-and a half years of the 11th Parliament.
Micheal Wanyama Odwori (Namayingo South) and Budiope West’s Ibrahim Kyoto have only opened their mouths once in the more than two years of the 11th Parliament while former journalist David Agha Isabirye (Jinja North) and Busiki North’s Yona Kayogera have spoken only twice in the more than two years of the 11th Parliament.
“We are over 500 legislators and you don’t just talk in Parliament, you have to be selected. About 20 people speak on the plenary on daily people and if you take a keen look, it is the same people who are selected,” Agha said while calling for a change in the rules of procedure to solve the problem.
But Kibalya says some legislators are simply disinterested in whatever goes on in Parliament.
“There are people whose interest is not to represent the views of voters in Parliament. There priority is elsewhere and they don’t have time for Parliament. They wanted to become MPs and that is all,” Hon. Kibalya said.
Alex Brandon Kintu (Kagoma North), Baroda Kayanga (Kamuli Municipality), Luke Kyobe Inyensiko (Luuka North) and Abdu Adidwa (Bukooli south) spoke thrice since 2021 while Jinja district Woman MP Loy Katali has managed to speak only four times in the two-and-a half years.
Others with better performance are Rukia Isanga Nakadama (205), Timothy Batuwa (165), Abdu Katuntu (146), Moses Magogo (102), Milton Muwuma Kalulu (68), David Livingstone Zijjan (50), Iddi Isabirye (38), John Teira (27) and Agnes Taaka (19).
Hon Kibalya says some leaders are not interested in leadership and are, therefore, not bothered with decisions that may negatively affect their constituents.
The vocal legislator is, however, concerned with the size of the current Parliament which he says is blotted and needs to be reduced to a simple minimum.
“The issue is not about the two minutes given to a Member of Parliament but it’s about the number of legislators some of which are useless,” Kibalya noted.
Other MPs contacted declined to reply to our repeated calls while Luuka North MP Kyobe said he would get to us after analyzing the document.
Presided over by Speaker Annet Anita Among, the 11th Parliament houses 549 MPs, including directly elected members, representatives of the elderly, Ex-officials and Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) representatives.