Members of Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and the Academia have raised a red flag about the high degree of involvement in service delivery roles by members of parliament (MPs) warning that if not arrested is threatening to cripple the core functions of the third arm of government, The Sunrise has learnt
The caution was made during a public dialogue between parliament and the civil Society as one of the festivities to mark Parliament’s week held last week under the theme “engaging the Public in a people centered Parliament.”
“Every other day we keep on hearing members of Parliament donating things like ambulances to particular groups and communities. I even know some who load trucks of mattresses to go out to and donate to students at the beginning terms begin” said Francis Gimara the president of the Uganda Law Society.
“This does not augur well for the future of Parliament because MPs are being overstretched and lost in the role of delivering staff to people and by so doing they lose truck of the very mandate for which Ugandans elected them to Parliament.” he added.
Former East African Legislative Assembly legislators and constitutional lawyer Wandera Ogalo expressed worry that if not corrected, the trend is leading to a scenario where member of the public is steadily forming a wrong opinion of MPs which he said is being reflected in the expectations and requests some Ugandans make of parliament including coffins, school fees and attending baptism parties among others other than their four core functions which include legislation, appropriation, foresight and representation.
“If you spent a day very close to any MP and listened to the type of calls he or she receives, believe me you would not want to sit in his or her place one day. For example, when a person dies in the family, or when there is a function of any kind, the first person they consider calling of all people is the area MP. ” said one former MP who did not want to be disclosed.
But deputy speaker Jacob oulanya attributed the trend to what he called a cut throat competition members of parliament face back in their constituencies especially those that envisage returning to the House in the subsequent term.
“The day a Member of Parliament is sworn in is the day campaigning starts in his constituency and this naturally puts MP under pressure bidding to stay relevant to the people who elected him or her.” Oulanya said.