Opposition Members of Parliament have been advised to avoid trivial matters but focus on issues of national interest as they execute their mandate.
The advice was given by former legislator, Prof Dan Wandera Ogalo, a managing partner of Victoria Advocates and Legal Consultants, during the Opposition MPs Induction on how legislators can use parliamentary tools as aids for excellence. Ogalo, a legislative consultant served in the Constituent Assembly, the Sixth Parliament (1996 to 2001) and in the East African Legislative Assembly- EALA (2001 to 2012).
During the two-day event, opposition MPs will be trained on the development of a private Member’s Bill, development and presentation of dissenting opinions, advancing alternative policy proposals, and the centrality of the budgeting process in holding government in check and accountable, among others.
“Members of the Opposition have a big task to carry out on behalf of the country. I hope that you will give your best for Uganda. The tools of parliament are committees, questions to ministers, public hearings, debates, parliamentary groupings and censure of ministers. These are tools which you can use in order to be effective,” Ogalo said.
He added that the relationship of the Opposition with the majority of National Resistance Movement (NRM) MPs is important to ensure that what they present is adopted.
He appealed to the Opposition MPs to always carry out research and arm their submissions on issues of national interest with statistics, so that they attract the sympathy of the majority.
The opposition has a total of 109 out of 529 MPs in the Eleventh Parliament. The opposition MPs are spread out on different committees of parliament that have specified tasks given by the House including scrutiny of Bills, government policy proposals, oversight and recommendations to plenary.
Wandera also told MPs to use question time to Ministers to obtain information from the government or press for action to be carried out.
He also appealed to the legislators to use tools like the presentation of a motion that will make them appear on the order paper and ably represent their constituents. He says that motions create a debate for the whole House and this is important for MPs to demand specific actions.
Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament said that his office intends to have several training sessions to equip members of the Opposition with tools that will enable them to undertake their mandate with confidence and knowledge.
Mpuuga said that when they sharpen the edges of their members, nobody will impeach their suitability on the basis that they lack knowledge or are devoid of tools that enable them to execute their mandate with distinction.
Wilfred Niwagaba, the Shadow Attorney-General also cautioned Opposition members against shunning committee hearings and simply turn up to sign reports without even reading and agreeing with the content.
He said that attending committee hearings helps Opposition MPs raise alternative reports in case one is not in agreement with recommendations made.