A letter to my Future MP
Now that 2016 is fast approaching you must be geared towards aspiring for a parliamentary seat on whatever ticket. Even the one who is afraid he/she may not come back to this August house in the 10th parliament isn’t fretting since 43 other constituencies were approved on 4th August this year. Also new municipalities are underway; the odds of coming back have certainly improved.
I can only help but imagine how you will all fit in the ‘Kafunda’ as His Excellency Museveni baptized the chambers recently during Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit. The house is already packed beyond its capacity. If only this commitment was expressed when voting on other questions too, but any way that’s beside the point.
So future MP, the 9th parliament has had its fair share of shortfalls and if you think five years is a long time, wait till your tenure is over and you have nothing much to be remembered for, apart from being lazy or selfish or incompetent. However there are a couple of things that if you do – you will be appreciated:
Attend to Parliament business, be it plenary, a committee meeting or a forum. This is one of the primary roles of any MP and this is also why Plenary convenes only 3 days a week (Tuesday to Thursday). It is assumed that Monday is the day MPs return after a weekend in their constituencies having left on Friday. The phrase “lack of quorum” has started to sound like a broken record, the passing of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was postponed thrice because the required number of members could not be realized on those occasions. Quorum is important, first lesson.
Attending parliament business doesn’t just mean showing face, it means being there physically as well as mentally. Participate please; I think it is embarrassing when your name is nowhere in the Hansard and it’s just a handful of your colleagues, what will you show for the time they were in Parliament. Be vocal; do not be quick to “aye” when voting on any question or too quick sign on any report without comprehensively understanding it. There’s more to a parliamentary debate than ‘a point of order’ or ‘Information’. This brings me to the next;
READ, read, read, I can’t say this enough; I have lost count of the number of times MPs have debated blindly on the floor. I don’t know what would happen if Honorable Nandala or Hon Ekanya weren’t in the house. It is quite embarrassing but it is a fact. On many occasions, they have pointed out things that would have otherwise been voted on blindly. Make use of the iPad you will get, it does more than Facebook. Be informed please.
Put the interests of your people ahead of those of the party, they are the ones who put you into the house. You are meant to serve them. In regard to legislation,do you recall the PPP bill? Or the Public Order management and those are only two. Don’t put a price to the needs of Ugandans remember, stand your ground. You will be respected for it.
Last but not least do not ask for unnecessary salary increments, let alone on the Fuel card. Although we appreciate the work you do we don’t appreciate you trying to bleed us dry of our hard earned money. Remember your numbers will have increased with the new counties. Think of it it’s quite a colossal sum that would otherwise provide a basic amenity to that voter of yours. In more financial matters: Don’t take loans unless it is really important. Consumption isn’t important, investment is.
Remember you don’t need to provide social services for your constituents because it’s the government’s job. Instead , support the government to do and deliver on its mandate to the people. Some of your colleagues have had their fair share of scandals stemming from them failing to pay back the loans. We don’t need you petitioning the President for a government guarantee so that your high interest loans can be bought off. Besides the recently passed Parliamentary Pensions bill, 2014 allows for borrowing against savings. But unless you exercise financial discipline history will repeat itself.
The 2014 NGO forum report has this rather interesting quote: ” Is the 9th Parliament delivering to its citizens’ expectations?”. Not only is the number of MPs engaged in criminal activities on the rise, but also poor behavior in the August House” Let these kinds of phrases in reports on Parliament be in the past.