Opposition MPs Block Age Limit Amendment Bill

Parliament has Wednesday blocked the motion by Nakifuma County Member of Parliament (MP), pharmacy Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko seeking leave of the house to introduce a private member’s bill.

ChimpReports has been running a series on the amendments set for tabling which seek to among others amend the age limit of some civil servants.

The move to block Ssekitoleko from presenting the motion was spearheaded by the Budadiri West MP, Nathan Nandala Mafabi who raised a procedural matter due to absence of circulated copies of the said motion.

Ssekitoleko was surprised to learn that despite availing a copy of the motion to the Clerk of Parliament a week ago, there were no copies distributed to the members in the house.

“For records Mr. Speaker, I submitted a copy of the motion to the clerk, I request to be given time to cross check with the clerk and be allowed to present the motion,” Ssekitoleko requested.

Ssekitoleko was allowed time to later avail copies to the members in the house but he was still blocked from proceeding through raising several procedural concerns.

Mukono Municipality legislator, Betty Nambooze Bakireke was the first to request the Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanya who was presiding over the house to defer the matter to a later date since most of the members had already left the house.

Mafabi added that it would be fit since the motion seeks for constitutional amendments to first issue a public notice calling upon all Ugandans with several amendments to be brought on board before Parliament takes a lead on the matter.

Hon. Nandala Mafabi speaking to journalists at Parliament on Wednesday
Hon. Nandala Mafabi speaking to journalists at Parliament on Wednesday

But Sekileko declined to take on Nandala’s word saying; “The motion isn’t on record of Parliament. I pray that I put the motion on record the members be allowed to debate it tomorrow.”

Oulanyah came to Sekitoleko’s defence asking Legislators to receive the motion and later differ it to the next day saying; “Let him present the motion there is no harm.”

Nandala however, was not yet finished with his defiance, “I know very well you are a very good lawyer and you are one that believes in constitutionalism. Wouldn’t it be better that we put public on notice that we want to amend and anybody who has views brings it to Parliament. This constitution was made to stay.”

Oulanyah rejected Nandala’s pleas asking MPs to table the motion and Parliament would decide on whether to give Sekitoleko’s motion permission to present his bill or not.

“The procedural point you are making is nothing. Right now, there is nothing you can talk about because we don’t have the motion. We can’t use this to block right of members to express yourself,” Oulanyah said.

But attempts by Deputy Speaker to calm down the Opposition MPs hit a dead end with Nandala reminding him of how former MP, Lulume Bayega had expressed intentions to table the transitional motion in the 9th Parliament but  wasn’t even allowed to present it.

“I have institutional memory, MP Lulume was blocked from presenting the transitional motion. I would like you to continue. We are all interested in amending the constitution, the issue was debated in the 9th Parliament. We plead to have a very good judgment. Sekitoleko is good at engineering motions,” Nandala said.

Oulanyah chipped in requesting MPs to allow Sekitoleko to present his motion saying it is his right to present a motion as prescribed in Parliament rules.

Masaka Municipality MP, Mathias Mpugga added a voice to those opposing the tabling of the motion saying the matter had been handled by the 9th Parliament and that all Sekitoleko was doing was to congest the order paper.

He explained: “I am of the view that no member would have risen to move parliament in circles, was debated less than 6months and rejected. This motion was brought simply to congest the order paper. He should have been guided. The Minister of Justice promised Parliament to come back with comprehensive reforms, this member has no right to short circuit the motion.”

Oulanyah still insisted saying the MPs had started debating a motion that isn’t before Parliament saying the views being expressed are for blocking a member from presenting the bill and aren’t needed at the moment.

Minister Chris Baryomosi stood up saying that although he isn’t in support of the motion, the MPs have to listen to the motion.

Ntugamo Municipality MP Gerard Karuhanga also joined the bandwagon warning Sekitoleko against hijacking the responsibilities given to the Commission that was set up to carry out constitutional reforms saying he was even surprised to see the subject on the order paper.

Oulanyah couldn’t take more of the arguments and ruled to have the motion both presented and tabled before the house on Thursday.

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