Un­veil­ing the of­fice of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Par­lia­ment

By: ISAAC OKELLO
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.