Committees of Parliament: The wheels that move business in the House
The Parliament of Uganda is one of the three official pillars of government. The others being the Executive and the Judiciary. The principal role of Parliament, according to the 1995 Constitution is to make laws.
It also has the duty to protect the Constitution and promote the democratic governance of Uganda. Besides, Parliament plays a key role of keeping government in check, by scrutinising its work to ensure that its various departments fulfil their mandate and do not misuse tax payers money.
These and many other responsibilities of Parliament mean that the legislative arm of government is inundated with a lot of work. Parliament is mandated, for example to scrutinise all proposed laws (Bills) before they are passed by the whole house (plenary).
Using the principle of division of labour, Parliament works through committees to ensure that it moves faster.
Types of Committees
Committees are sub-divided into two major categories; Standing committees and Sectoral committees
These often change leadership once during the term of Parliament; ie usually at two and half years, while sectoral committees change leadership at the beginning of every session – which is at the beginning of every financial year.
Membership to the Standing Committees emanates from the Members of Parliament, whereby parties represented in Parliament designate through their Whips, in a proportional nature, whereas the Independent MPs apply to the Clerk to Parliament to join a committee of their choice.
There are thirteen (13) Standing Committees, thus:
1) Budget Committee
2) Committee on Science And Technology
3) Committee on Hiv/Aids & Related Diseases
4) Committee on Equal Opportunities
5) Committee on Human Rights
6) Committee on National Economy
7) Committee on Rules, Privileges And Discipline
8) Public Accounts Committee
9) Local Government Accounts Committee
10) Commissions, State Authorities & State Enterprises
11) Committee on Government Assurance
12) Business Committee
13) Appointments Committee
For Sectoral Committees, membership is also designated by party whips at the beginning of every session of Parliament, on the basis of Party or Organisation repre-sentation in Parliament, putting into consideration the interests of the Independent MPs who shall also apply to the Clerk to Parliament to join committees of their choice.
There are fifteen (15) Sectoral Committees; thus
1) Committee on Finance, Planning And Economic Development
2) Committee on Health
3) Committee on Foreign Affairs
4) Committee on Natural Resources
5) Committee on Presidential Affairs
6) Committee on Defence And Internal Affairs
7) Committee on Physical Infrastructure
8) Committee on Public Service And Local Government
9) Committee on Education & Sports
10) Committee on Agriculture
11) Committee on Gender Labour And Social Development
12) Committee on East African Community Affairs
13) Committee on Trade, Tourism And Industry
14) Committee on Legal And Parliamentary Affairs
15) Committee on ICT
The Sectoral Committees are mandated to carry out the functions of examining and commenting on the policies matters affecting the ministries they cover, to initiate or evaluate action pro-grammes of those Ministries and Sectors and to make appropriate recommendations on them. They also examine government’s recurrent and capital budget estimates and make recommendations on them for general debate in the House, examine Bills brought by Government before the House among others.
Two years since the current Parliament was inaugurated, The Sunrise spoke with the leaders/chairpersons (selected randomly) to highlight some of the work of the commiitees of the 10th Parliament.