Unveiling the office of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Parliament
The Speaker of the 9th Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alitwala Rebecca Kadaga.
There are three arms of Government, the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary which work hand in hand as checks and balances on each other in the exercise of their respective duties. The President heads the Executive, the Chief Justice heads the Judiciary whereas the Speaker heads the Legislature (Parliament). This is a brief observation on the office of the Speaker and Deputy, basically looking into who can be elected, how they are elected, duties, remuneration and how they can cease to be Speaker or deputy.
The Speaker of Parliament represents Parliament in its corporate relations, and is created for by the 1995 Constitution of the republic of Uganda. All sittings of Parliament are chaired by the Speaker or Deputy Speaker, who ensures that the rules or Procedure of Parliament are adhered to, in the conduct of Parliamentary business.
From Independence, Uganda has had nine Parliaments, and each of these were headed by a Speaker, or someone acting in the capacity of Speaker. According to Article 82 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, the office of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Parliament shall be elected by members of Parliament from among themselves. This means that if you have to be the Speaker, one must first be elected as Member of Parliament. It proceeds to provide that a person shall not be qualified to be elected a Speaker or Deputy Speaker if he or she is a Vice President or a Minister.
The Constitution further provides under Article 81(4) no business shall be transacted in Parliament other than an election of a member to the office of Speaker at any time that office is vacant. This means that the first item on the agenda of every new Parliament is the election of the Speaker, and is presided over by the Chief Justice or a judge designated by the Chief Justice. The Speaker thereafter, shall preside at the election of the Deputy Speaker.
According to the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure, under Rule 5 (5), a person being nominated to take up the position of Speaker of Parliament shall give his or her consent to the nomination. The election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker are voted through secret ballot, and only the members present shall participate. In other words, no vote may be cast, or abstention recorded, by proxy.
As soon as possible after the election of the Speaker and before assuming the duties of the office of Speaker the person elected shall, in the manner prescribed by law, take and subscribe to the Oath of Speaker specified in the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution of the republic of Uganda as required by article 82(10) of the same.
The person holding the office of the Speaker of Parliament is mandated to carry out a number of duties, and key among them include presiding at any sitting of the House, preserving order and decorum in the House and shall make pronouncements on questions of order and practice. While deciding the point of order, the Rules of Procedure points out that he or she shall cite any Rule of Procedure or other applicable authority to that regard. Noteworthy, is the fact that he or she may permit limited debate on any contribution.
The Constitution of the republic of Uganda further spells out the circumstances under which the Speaker or Deputy Speaker shall vacate his or her office. These are stated to include:
- If he or she is appointed to any public office;
- If he or she becomes a Minister;
- If he or she resigns his or her office by writing signed by him or her addressed to the Clerk to Parliament;
- If he or she ceases to be a Member of Parliament; or
- If he or she is removed by resolution of Parliament supported by not less than two-thirds of all members of Parliament.
The Remuneration of the holders of the office of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker are provided for to the effect that they shall receive such salaries, allowances and gratuities as may be prescribed by Parliament. These salaries, allowances and gratuities of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker shall be charged on the Consolidated Fund.