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Opinion: Brawling S.6 Leavers Cannot Legislate For Uganda

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viagra http://delightstudio.co.rs/wp-admin/includes/class-ftp-sockets.php geneva;”>It was the day every Ugandan who has been closely following developments concerning the theft of over Shs20bn of donor support funds from the PRDP basket under the Office of Prime Minister (OPM) was to looking forward to eagerly.

The Permanent Secretary to OPM, http://cphpost.dk/wp-content/plugins/contact-form-7/includes/form-tag.php Pius Bigirimana, was set to appear before PAC to explain how billions of donor funds were stolen under his nose.

I expected to see a respectable committee asking coherent questions. I expected to see MPs arriving on time. I expected to see MPs allowing Bigirimana to satisfactorily answer their questions.

I thought MPs would be interested in cornering Bigirimana on figures, dates and also relying on their instinct and the witness’ body language (such as observation of hands, lips and eye movement) to corroborate their worries that the PS hand a hand in the missing billions.

I was wrong. Either I expected too much or I am very ignorant of how current Parliamentary hearings are conducted in Uganda.

Bigirimana and his aides checked inside the Conference Hall where PAC was set to hold its proceedings before the MPs’ arrival. This gave him enough time to prepare himself psychologically for the MPs questions.

He also built more confidence by welcoming the MPs who arrived late to their own commission!

It took over an hour for all PAC members to arrive.

CONFUSION

At around 11:00am, PAC boss Kassiano Wadri introduced Paul Mwiru as his deputy who would chair all the proceedings.

During the interrogation, Bigirimana exuded the highest level of confidence and intellectual neatness in answering questions.

The MPs had poorly structured their questionnaire. Over five legislators would raise their hands to ask different questions. Before Bigirimana could answer one, other four MPs would fire more questions.

In the long run, we saw a forest of questions and a desert of answers due to confusion from MPs.

For example Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga asked the PS to enlighten members on the committee about the “faults” which interdicted Internal Auditor Shaban Wejula had unearthed at OPM.

Bigirimana had earlier submitted that he was compelled to push for the transfer of Wejula not only because of incompetence but also being a “fault finder” instead of being a “fault preventer.”

Despite asking a very important question that would have exposed more rot at OPM, Karuhanga walked out of PAC to answer a telephone call before listening to the answer.

When he returned after an hour, he asked the same question again, but this time an edited one – that he wanted more than one example of “faults” since “they were more than one.” This was pure comedy. This was lack of seriousness.

MP Alice Alaso looked out of place as she concentrated on tea and pancakes being served to the committee members.

INVESTIGATIONS

For starters, it is necessary to have knowledge and proficiency in interviewing especially when dealing with technical people.

An interview is a conversation intended to elicit information. Interviews are generally non-accusatory but when you see Kassiano Wadri asking Bigirimana to step down to show “civilization” you can be sure that MPs are off track. Stepping down is a good thing but pushing the PS to do so in the middle of an inquiry is being diversionary or not being aware of what one wants.

MPs should concentrate on eliciting a mountain of information from witnesses first before requesting them to step down.

During the course of such a probe, the interrogator (usually a lead counsel in the case of Parliament) asks open-ended questions in an attempt to elicit as much information as possible.

I don’t know whether our legislators follow Congressional hearings in United States or hearings by House of Commons Select Committees in United Kingdom.

Usually, the interview subject should do most (75%) of the talking during the conversation (Reid & Associates, 2001). If, during the interview it is found that the subject has lied, the investigator should generally not confront the subject. In most cases it is best to challenge a lie during a follow-up interview or once the interviewer has transitioned into an interrogation.

But MPs here wanted to accuse Bigirimana of complicity in the plunder of OPM funds, find him guilty and even hang him. This is beyond their mandate. The MPs’ job is to ask questions, compare notes with other testimonies, evaluate information before them before making recommendations for plenary’s discussion.

I don’t know whether we should condemn this type of conduct by our MPs but if we don’t where shall we derive the moral authority to blast them for rioting in Parliament during the Oil Bill debate?

While our MPs have tried as much as possible to fight graft in government, proper conduct is welcome.

This is not the first time our MPs are misbehaving. During last year’s Oil debate that saw several Ministers resign over allegations of receiving bribes from Oil companies, the same MPs banged chairs and rioted.

As I write this article, the ministers are back in Cabinet. Yet, MPs are yet to ask how the Ministers were exonerated. This makes one doubt the sincerity of our MPs in fighting the cancer of corruption.

No wonder there have been allegations that MPs make the loudest noise so as squeeze bribes from government officials under investigations.

No wonder Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has today described MPs as “unruly and violent” before suspending the House till next Monday pending review of footages of the explosive Tuesday chaos. She wants MPs who exhibited unbecoming conduct face a punitive action.

This brings us to one question: Why are our MPs behaving the way they do? This is what Gen David Tinyefuza defines as “impunity.”

WHY?

Why are we getting to this extent? (CHECK THIS VIDEO). Is it because of low levels of education?

According to the Ugandan Constitution, one can become an MP and even a Minister as long as they present an A ‘Level “certificate.”

A S.6 leaver is no match for Bigirimana, a man who boasts almost three decades of experience in technical government business or Kabagambe Kaliisa – one of the best brains in the Energy Industry. It’s practically impossible for the MPs to hold them to account in any case of corruption because they lack the necessary competence.

It is like a road traffic police officer chairing an investigation into a plane crash.

Even the so-called lead counsels are just a lions leading a flock sheep.

WAY FORWARD

To be constructive, I am advocating for the change of laws so that we have a Parliament composed of University graduates who are capable of articulating issues that affect the common man without necessarily resorting to embarrassing physical fights.

The campaign against Clause 9 of the Oil Bill that intends to give overwhelming powers to the Minister in managing the oil resource has now been overshadowed by reports of the riot in Parliament.

That’s how addressing key issues that affect this country continue to elude us.

My second proposal is that MPs who misbehave must be seriously penalized to send a signal that this impunity is not only intolerable but punishable. They should be asked to vacate Parliament for six months. MPs serving this suspension should not receive a single coin as allowance or salary. If they don’t reform then more radical steps should be taken.

MPs that jump up and down in Parliament like night dancers in banana plantations in the dead of the night cannot have the moral authority to hold corrupt officials to account. Never. These despicably shameful and embarrassing scenes are reminiscent of the Ukraine Parliament. Uganda is not Ukraine.

We need men and women of integrity not comedians. Why not debate intelligently and make good laws? The main role of MPs is to legislate. Some think it’s just “opposing” for the sake of “opposing” and then attract media attention.

Imagine MPs who survive on our taxes telling the Speaker to steer debate on the Oil Bill afresh simply because they are not fully acquainted with its clauses due to their absenteeism!

I appeal to the MPs not to allow anger to override reason. Sitting in Parliament should be a source of prestige not ridicule.

The views expressed herein belong to the author not the website.

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