Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa, has urged legislators to strictly adhere to the Parliamentary rules of procedure when debating in the House.
Tayebwa’s guidance followed Tuesday, 29 November 2022 incident where Francis Zaake, Mityana Municipality MP rose to speak on a point on procedure but instead presented a matter of national importance on alleged kidnap and arrest of citizens. The MP rejected calls by Tayebwa to resume his seat forcing the Presiding Officer to temporarily suspend proceedings.
Tayebwa said that, in consultation with the Speaker, they have come up with guidance on points of procedure and order that must be adhered to during debate.
Tayebwa referred the members to rule 78 of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament providing for circumstances under which debate maybe interrupted, when a member rises on a point of order or procedure.
“As regards points of order, it is established parliamentary practice that a point of order must only be used to draw the attention of the presiding officer to words used or conduct of a member at anytime immediately after the words are used or conduct that breaches the rules of procedure or practice of the House or contradicts a previous decision of the House,” he said.
He said points of order can be raised when a member does not conform to the rules of debate, approved attire, uses unparliamentarily language or does an act or utters any word that breaches the rules of procedure.
“A member rising on a point of procedure must before subjecting the member holding the floor to the speakers ruling state; that the rule of procedure which he or she deems to have been breached by the member holding the floor and the procedural matter the member wishes to be ruled upon,” he said.
Tayebwa said that when a member rises on a point of procedure and makes a political statement, raises a matter of national importance or any other matter under the guise of a point of procedure amounts to an abuse of the point of procedure.
He said points of procedure will only apply on matters going on the floor, and whoever rises on a point of procedure must stick to that.
Tayebwa said that alongside the chairperson of the Rules committee they had agreed to be flexible to help members who are not well versed with the rules but this has been misused by members. He said flexibility will be allowed, while abuse will not.
Mukono County North MP, Abdallah Kiwanuka, wondered how members will ask follow-up questions and remind government about promises made but not fulfilled.
Tayebwa, however, said that not everything should be handled on the Floor of the House, adding that in many cases MPs have been to his chambers, raised issues and ministers have been called to answer.
He said that as presiding officers, they have agreed that members seeking to raise matters of national importance must visit the speakers’ chambers prior to a sitting of the House.
“Utilise our offices as much as you can. Some of you members, I meet you here on the floor, you have never been to my office or the speakers’ chambers,” he said.
The Minister of State for Industries, David Bahati, said that it is a bad habit to ambush plenary without permission when the Speaker and members have not thought about an issue.
SOURCE: Parliament of Uganda