Roaring morning clouds backed off, paving the way for a bright day that eased ‘MPs’ access to Parliament, providing the right atmosphere for the hard fought battle for the coveted Speakership.
This was the third phase of Parliament’s annual tradition of opening up to allow members of the public to exercise the function of MPs for a day. It was the highlight of the Parliament Week 2019 held under the theme: Championing Accountability to Improve Service Delivery.
Mr Wasswa Kasim Ssensalo, a lucky one out of 500, emerged triumphant from the excruciating battle to become Speaker, which saw the fall of seven other contestants by the way side.
He was all promises to the electorate, who he said “will not regret having voted me.”
He later moved to preside over the public sitting that saw passionate debate for and against the motion urging government to increase allocation of resources to local governments in their efforts to improve service delivery.
Bony Muwanguzi, who represented Tororo Municipality, said the matter up for debate was obvious and should have been concluded in the affirmative already.
“They need adequate funding, they need a lot of money to work on all those very urgent needs,” said Muwanguzi.
For Edward Natamba, who mirrored the MP for Ruhaama, there is sufficient evidence on the ground, pointing to the financial stress already being harshly endured by local government leaders.
“There is no money in the local governments, no medicine in those health centres; if we are talking about improving service delivery, that is where we should look,” he said.
Proposed by ‘The Leader of the Opposition’ Elizabeth Wanyana and seconded by ‘MP’ Muwanguzi, the motion got unanimous endorsement.
The Public Parliament closes the curtains on the Parliament Week 2019, which started all the way from a charity walk to raise funds for people living with albinism, to an engagement between MPs and Local Council 5 Chairpersons, to exhibitions by different government agencies to the mock sessions, better known as the Public Parliament.
At hand to welcome the ‘MPs’ was Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, who said the session gives the public a vantage point to reflect on the roles of their representatives.
“The Public Parliament gives us a chance to have a feel of what representatives go through on a daily basis and for five years,” said Oulanyah.
The reason, he said, is to actualize the idea of Parliament being “a meeting point of ideas.”
Oulanyah said the ‘MPs’ discussions would be instrumental in shaping public policy, especially now that the budget for Financial Year 2019/2020 is under consideration.
To 2nd Deputy Premier and Minister of East African Affairs, Ali Kirunda Kivejinja, the occasion should remind the ‘MPs’, who are mainly youthful, of the need to close the gap between them and the elders, who he said would eventually give way for them in leadership positions.
“God has helped to keep us around so you can use us as a point of reference,” he said.
MP Herbert Ariko Edmund (FDC, Soroti Municipality) saw the activities already acting as a useful bridge to narrow the gap between Parliament and the electorate.
“Parliament is now coming closer to the people and much more open,” he said. Ariko was holding brief for the Leader of the Opposition, Ms Betty Aol Ocan.