Parliament Amends Rules On Prime Minister’s Question Time
Parliament has adopted amendments to its Rules of Procedure to move the weekly Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQT) from Wednesdays to Thursdays.
The 45-minute session, which was introduced in the 9th Parliament, aims to allow Members of Parliament to ask random questions of less than 10 seconds to the Prime Minister.
While amending the House rules on July 19, 2017, the Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa requested for permission to table for amendments to Section 34, sub rule 1, to move the Prime Minister’s Question time from Wednesday to Thursday.
“I discussed with the committee but it was not included,” Nankabirwa said.
However, before she could proceed, the Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah questioned whether the amendment had been presented before the Rules, Privileges and Discipline committee, saying the House would not allow adhoc amendments.
The Rules committee chairman, Clement Ongalo backed Nankabirwa, saying the amendments had been forwarded to the committee, after the report had already been presented to the House.
“The committee agreed that it was important that it is allowed so that we could amend it,” Ongalo revealed.
However, Opposition Chief Whip, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda pointed out a procedural issue regarding the Government Chief Whip’s decision to forward her amendments to the committee.
In her defence, Nankabirwa noted that the Prime Minister’s Question Time coincides on the same day with cabinet meetings, which has proved to be a hurdle for the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda to execute his duties.
“The Head of State chose Wednesday to be cabinet day and when we sit in Entebbe, we find it very difficult to catch up with Parliament yet we want the Prime Minister to be here on time to answer questions,” Nankabirwa said.
But Ssemujju dismissed her justification as too casual, stating that Parliament appropriates funds to Office of the President next to Parliament, where President Museveni owns offices.
“Instead of going to his residence to rest, he is taking there his cabinet meetings. I want to invite this Parliament to reject this justification that they sit in Entebbe,” Ssemujju suggested.
However, his pleas were drowned as Hon Oulanyah put the matter to vote, with those in favour of moving the sessions from Wednesday to Thursday afternoon taking the day.
In April this year, the Prime Minister’s Question Time was put on hold, after Oulanyah raised concern over the quality of questions that legislators were asking the Prime Minister.
Subsequently, screenings started on April 16, 2017 at the main lobby at the South Wing of Parliament, where one of the television sets screened the proceedings of the House of Common from 11 am to 2 pm, before the plenary sittings commence.