A let­ter to my Fu­ture MP

By: Winnie Watera

Dear 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.

Yours faith­fully,