Empty Chairs and Empty Commitments: Tayebwa Takes Aim at Chairpersons for Skipping Work
The Deputy Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa, is fed up with a bunch of do-nothing legislators. He’s so sick of their empty chairs that he’s threatening to send a strongly worded letter to their political party bosses to get rid of them.
Starting on October 3, 2023, Tayebwa and his team decided to babysit the Committee leaders to see if they could make it to the meetings. They even assigned some personnel in the Clerk’s office to keep an eye on who was there and who wasn’t. They also gave the job of making a list to Prof. Elijah Dickens Mushemeza, a Member of Parliament from Sheema South.
Now, here’s the problem: There are 29 different committees in Parliament. That’s a lot of committees! Each committee is supposed to have a Chairperson and a Deputy Chairperson. So, when the whole gang gets together for a meeting, there should be 58 of them. But guess what? From Prof. Mushemeza’s little list, only 21 Chairpersons and their sidekicks made it on October 3.
Tayebwa must’ve been furious because on October 4, only 19 Committee leaders were there, and 26 decided to grace the meeting on October 5. Things just kept getting worse – on October 10, only 16 showed up, and it hit a low of 14 on October 11.
Some members in Parliament are scratching their heads in frustration, wondering how these politicians even got their fancy positions. Dr. Asiimwe Akiiki Florence, the Woman Representative from Masindi District, said they should have given these lazy bums a talking to a long time ago. She’s got a point!
Another lawmaker, Henry Maurice Kibalya, thinks the big bosses in Parliament need to have a meeting and sort this mess out. But Tayebwa doesn’t just have a problem with them not showing up. He’s also mad about the fact that these Committee leaders are always late with their homework – their reports, to be precise.
The Constitution says they have to talk about the Auditor General’s report within six months, but guess what? None of the important committees have done it by the deadline on October 10, 2023. This means they’ve got a mountain of reports to go through.
But the Committee Chairpersons have their excuses – they say Parliament is a hot mess with all kinds of issues that need fixing.
Now, we’ve got a total of 555 lawmakers, but it’s not just the Committee leaders who like to play absent. Some lawmakers don’t even bother to show up, and there are rules for that. Rule number 7 says the Speaker should send a little warning to the absent law makers, but it’s just a slap on the wrist, nothing more. Rule number 8 says the Speaker can send them to the “naughty corner,” but that’s never happened.
Also, the leaders of Parliament sometimes have to cancel their meetings because the Ministers don’t show up. That’s breaking the rules too, but nobody seems to care.