By Emmanuel Lumala Dombo,
I have read in the media about the bad blood that exists between the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker and the subsequent accusations and counter accusations and/or defenses by the two principals about the inadequacies of the other. Although I don’t know the full story that may have led to this type of relationship, I just cannot understand how this matter was allowed to get out of control despite the many formal and informal governance structures of Parliament! Parliament has got elaborate institutional mechanisms that should be able to resolve any matter that may crop up between the principals, the members or the staff. There is the Parliamentary Commission, the committee of Committee Chairpersons, the Board of Management, and many others.
The Parliamentary Commission is composed of competent members capable of calling the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker to order should need arise. I wonder how they could have missed on this one, to the extent of allowing the Speaker to “suspend” her deputy without authority to do so. The Leader of Government business, the Commissioners, including the LOP or the committee Chairpersons are the most senior leaders of parliamentIt and can by extension exercise their leadership by ‘forcing’ the speaker and her deputy to work together. They should clearly bring to the attention of the protagonists the implications of their conduct to the reputation of the institution and its members and demand that all the squabbles should cease forthwith. Any member should be able to relate with either of the principals without any fear of retribution or risk of forfeiture of any opportunity. There should exist colleageality among the senior leaders of Parliament, including the Speaker and Deputy Speaker and the Clerk to Parliament in order not to stifle the business of the house or to polarize the members or the staff.
Besides the formal structures of Parliament, there should also be informal avenues that should be as effective in matters of conflict resolution. In many organizations, the informal structures are very powerful and even more effective because of their confidentiality and absence of procedures and consequences after an issue has been resolved. As a Senior Backbencher, I was able to resolve a number of issues among the principals, colleagues and staff without any formal authority to do so and yet the concerned parties respected the outcomes. And yet the title of SBB was more self ordained than official. This is just food for thought from a former Senior Backbencher.
The Writer is the Director for Information Publicity and Public Relations, NRM Secretariat.