By Cos Andrew Mugalu
A section of Members of Parliament may not have a chance to return to the national legislature if a new project being baked sees the light of the day. MPs like Nandala Mafabi, Rebecca Kadaga, Cecilia Ogwal, Medard Sseggona, Abdu Katuntu, Hillary Onek, Robinah Nabbanja, Bernabas Tinkasimire, Musa Ecweru, Thepdore Seekikubo, Anifa Kawooya, Moses Ali and Jeje Odongo among others are most likely ceasing to sit in the current legislature if the deal sails through. We got it from Inspectors that President Museveni is considering implementing one of the recommendations in the NRM Adhoc Issues Committee report chaired by Margaret Zziwa which sought to create a Second Chamber to cater for senior citizens.
In 2011 after elections, Museveni set up an NRM Adhoc Issues Committee chaired by Margaret Zziwa. It had members like Arimpa Kigyagi, Ruth Tuma, Male, Barrister Peter Mashate, Abraham Byandala, Bernard Mujasi among others. The committee traversed the country making hearings on issues affecting the party and in the end, they presented a report to Museveni in Rwakitura.
We have been informed that one of the issues that caught Museveni’s attention was a recommendation to create a Second Chamber similar to that of Russia, US and UK. The members for this proposed chamber won’t be elected like the national MPs.
Zziwa presented the report to Mzee, and mzee asked about a recommendation in the report relating to creation of a second chamber.
“Mashate, how is this (second Chamber) going to work? I can see it’s part of the recommendations” Museveni reportedly asked.
The Barrister according to Inspectors, responded saying ‘Your Excellency, we have so many good people who have served the country. On attainment of retirement age, they are laid to waste yet they can still give guidance to this nation . If they are put to the Second Chamber, the country would retain their expertise. For example, civil servants, retired army generals, teachers, judges etcetera, they can go to second chamber”
Jjajja Museveni appeared to have picked interest in the proposal and asked him that; ‘how is this going to work?’
Mashate took him through the whole idea saying it aims to retain expertise.
“In UK for instance, those who leave the civil service, the army and others including artists, sportsmen, scientists extra, are then seconded to the Second Chamber which is not elected. The government of the day will have that duty of gathering the national names and it is cross party. These people serve until when they die or retire voluntarily” Mashate reportedly told Museveni and went ahead to guide that a special committee similar to the National MEDALS’ COMMITTEE but cross party would be formed to make those nominations.
We’re told Museveni just nodded but didn’t pursue it until 12years now that he’s said to be pursuing the recommendation.
Inspectors explained that in order for the second chamber to have meaning, it must be given some teeth.
“While its unelected, it will be advisory and therefore in that role, it can act as a sieving chamber of legislation as it comes from parliament to the president for assent. The chamber will have powers to scruitinize the passed bill upon request by the president on its implication on society and international relations.” An inspector said. Secondly, the chamber will also advise cabinet on request on pertinent issues/policies before cabinet tables them to parliament for enactment or ratification.
It is envisaged that because there is a likelihood to trim the size of parliament, the emoluments of the pruned parliament will go towards funding the second chamber. So, there will be no extra cost to the taxpayer.
According to the plan, whereas the second chamber nomination committee will have the role of identifying those to sit in the chamber, it is being stated that an MP who will have served three terms in parliament consecutively, will automatically qualify to the second chamber. This in effect presupposes that there is a plan to put term limits on parliamentary seats.
“Currently we have a problem of politicians who have turned parliament into a career of sorts. They don’t want to give way to other people to come and showcase their ability to serve. Now, we are saying, if someone serves for three terms, he or she will automatically be ineligible for reelection for MP seat no matter where he or she stands” inspector.
The EC according to the plan will be obliged to keep a record of all MPs to see those who will have served for the three terms non-stop and block them from any further nomination except for the higher office of the president. It should be recalled that already, a proposal to reduce on the size of parliament has been mooted.