Parliamentary commissioners will have to be elected, by secret ballot, at the end of the tenure of the current position holders, the Speaker of Parliament has ruled.
The Parliamentary Commission, which is established by the Administration of Parliament Act, is the top most administrative body in the Legislature. Chaired by the Speaker, it among others comprises, the Leader of Government Business, the Leader of the Opposition, the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development; and four back bench MPs.
The current commissioners were designated by the Government and Opposition sides at the start of the 10th Parliament, and announced or presented during a sitting of the House. Their term is due to end this December 2018.
Parliament commissioners serve for a period of two and half years.
The current back bench MPs/Commissioners are: Arinaitwe Rwakajara (NRM, Workers), Robinah Nabbanja (NRM, Kakumiro district), Peter Ogwang (NRM, Usuk), who had been redisgnated to serve a second term. The Opposition FDC had designated Francis Mwijukye (FDC, Buhweju County) to replace Cecilia Ogwal (FDC, Agago district).
In a detailed ruling, Speaker Kadaga said that although the government and Opposition always designated the backbench commissioners, the House is the “constituent college for purposes of election” of the representatives.
“I find that the House is designated as the constituent college for purpose of election, from among nominated candidates, of the four back bench commissioners. This is especially so because it is the Members who are the direct beneficiaries of the choice,” said Kadaga.
“These [Parliamentary commissioners] are their representatives to the Commission. In any event, all the decisions of this House are made by voting,” Kadaga added.
She however noted that there was a contradiction between the Administration of Parliament Act, which provides for nomination of candidates for the election; and the Parliament Rules of Procedure, which provide for designation or redisignation of the commissioners.
“To avoid ambiguity we shall read the word designation to mean nomination,” she said.
During the sitting, the Government Chief Whip, Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa protested the Speaker’s ruling saying the procedure for filling the positions of commissioner should not change now but could rather apply during the next Parliament.
“I am going to challenge the decision by introducing a motion pushing for the designation instead of the election of the commission members,” she said.
Opposition Chief Whip, Hon. Ibrahim Ssemujju also noted that FDC structures had already taken decisions on the subject.
“This leaves us hanging in limbo because Hon. Francis Mwijukye was ready to take office effective next month,” Ssemujju said.