In a display of frustration and anger, the Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament, Anita Annet Among, prematurely adjourned a parliamentary session due to the absence of ministers from the front bench.
The Speaker expressed her disappointment at the absence of the “highly-paid” ministers, questioning whether the Parliament was solely meant for backbenchers.
She emphasized the need for ministers to represent the Executive in the House and respond to parliamentary queries.
Among stated, “If we are supposed to have the ministers represent the Executive, then we should have ministers on this front bench, but we cannot come here as Members of Parliament, waste our time, talk, nobody is [here] to respond, and they are paid highly.”
With 83 ministers in the government, the Speaker voiced her intention to meet with the Executive to address the issue and adjourned the session until it is resolved.
Rule 50(1) of the Parliament Rules of Procedure mandates ministers to attend parliamentary sittings to be accountable and uphold the separation of powers.
Despite warnings from the Speaker and her deputy, Thomas Tayebwa, about the importance of ministers’ attendance, they continued to be absent from parliamentary sessions.
The Speaker had previously promised to use biometrics to monitor legislators’ attendance and publish performance reports to combat absenteeism.
In response, some ministers cited traffic jams and heavy workloads as reasons for their late arrival or absence.
Minister Vincent Ssempijja mentioned traffic congestion as a factor in his tardiness, while Huda Oleru, the State Minister of Defense and Veterinary Affairs, explained that balancing parliamentary duties with ministerial work can lead to late arrivals.
Legislator Jonathan Ebwalu expressed disappointment and criticized the absence of ministers, calling for prompt action to address the issue.