Independent Members of Parliament have petitioned Speaker Anita Among for an amendment to the Administration of Parliament Act in order to grant them more rights in the House.
They want the Administration of Parliament Act, 1997 to be further modified to include representation of independents to the Parliamentary Commission and leadership of some of the Committees of Parliament. At least 73 out of the 529 lawmakers in the 11th Parliament, are independent.
The Administration of Parliament Act provides for the composition of the Parliamentary Commission to include: The Speaker, The Deputy Speaker, The Leader of Government Business, The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, the Minister of Finance and four Backbench Members of Parliament. The Clerk to Parliament is Secretary to the Commission. It is silent about the role of legislators who are not aligned to political parties.
Butembe County Member of Parliament David Livingstone Zijjan, who is loosely the Dean of Independents currently works directly under the Speaker of Parliament as the substantive whip of the Independent members in the House. He observes that the presiding officers in the House have individually supported them for their distinct schedule of opinion on matters that relate to legislation, oversight and appropriation, among others.
Similarly, Ntoroko County Member of Parliament Gerald Rwemulikya Ibanda notes that some colleagues always mock and describe them as ‘orphans’ of the House, a perception that the proposed amendment would address.
Speaker Among confirmed the petition and directed Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja to consider the plight of the independents as legitimate and needing redress.
Some of the vibrant independent legislators are Elijah Okupa (Kasilo County), Agnes Nandutu, (Bududa District), Nathan Twesigye Itungo (Kashari South County) Martin Ojara Mapenduzi (Gulu City West Division), Nsereko Muhammad from Kampala Central Division and Idah Nantaba of Kayunga District among others.
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