The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, has threatened to suspend Members that heckle the President during the delivery State of the Nation Address and of the Budget presentation.
Kadaga said that although some Members were so intolerant and never wanted to listen to the President, they needed to wait for the Motion to debate the State of the Nation Address to air out their views.
“Some Members were so intolerant that they heckle and shout down the speech of the Head of State. Why don’t you listen and then wait an opportunity to respond in the plenary?” she asked adding, “This too deserves condemnation and I hope it will not happen again.”
This was during the Speaker’s Communication from the Chair as Parliament resumed sittings in the plenary today, Tuesday 20th June 2017. This was the first time the House was sitting since the Budget presentation on 8th June 2017.
During the State of the Nation Address and Budget presentation, the Speaker usually reminds legislators of Rule 10 (4) of the Parliament Rules of Procedure, which says that ‘The President, while occupying the Chair of State may make a Presidential statement, which shall be heard in silence and not followed by any comment or question; and shall not otherwise participate in the proceedings of the House in any way.’
“Visiting Speakers attending these sittings wonder how a Head of State can be heckled. MPs who do so are candidates for suspension,” said Kadaga.
Kadaga added that she had noted a similar behavior during campaigns by candidates seeking positions at the East African Legislative Assembly in February this year. She said that the behavior by MPs that included chanting of party slogans, bringing of party flags and symbols in the House, heckling and shouting was in bad spirit and was contrary to the Parliament Rules of Procedure.
“If I had commented on the subject immediately after the elections, it could have cast doubt on the outcome, so I didn’t speak then. I do hope that we shall in future conduct ourselves in an honorable manner even if we are excited about our candidates,” said Kadaga.
Appendix F of the Rules, under Public Trust, says: Members shall at all times conduct themselves in a manner which will maintain and strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in the integrity of Parliament and never undertake any action which may bring the House or its Members generally, into disrepute.
Similarly, Kasilo MP, Hon. Elijah Okupa, condemned the Minister of State for Lands ─ Hon. Persis Namuganza for allegedly calling her Cabinet colleague, Minister of State for ICT and Communications ─ Hon. Aida Erios Nantaba a “prostitute” during a television talkshow.
OKupa also demanded that the Minister of Finance, Hon. Matia Kasaija, should be called to explain for claiming, during the Budget presentation, that Parliament is corrupt.
“This was painful to us and I thought the Speaker would bring the Minister of Finance to order. He should explain and name the corrupt MPs,” he said.
The Government Chief Whip, Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa, said that Cabinet had resolved and set up a Committee chaired by the First Deputy Prime Minister to handle issues of discipline of Ministers.