Government ministers have been accused of showing an “arrogant disregard for democracy” by increasingly refusing to show up to Parliament to answer urgent questions granted by the House.
Close to 25 ministers were absent on Tuesday from the House, prompting a debate for nearly 30 minutes on whether those charged with running government are actually mindful of serving the public.
Among notable absentees were those who rarely show face in the House, including Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa, Education minister Janet Museveni, Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde, Attorney General William Byarugaba, and Constitutional Affairs minister Kahinda Otafiire, Junior ICT minister Aidah Nantaba, junior Foreign Affairs minister Okello Oryem, Urban Development minister Isaac Musumba, and Energy minister Irene Muloni.
The Premier and Leader of government business Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, who has been a no show for a couple of days in the last month promoting Parliament to skip the prime minister’s question time on more than two occasions, was also absent on Tuesday.
Also absent was the second deputy premier Kirunda Kivejinja.
Other ministers who didn’t attend the Tuesday proceedings included Betty Amongi (Lands), Beti Kamya (Kampala), Janat Mukwaya (Gender), Henry Tumukunde (Security), Frederick Ngobi Gume (Co-operatives), Matia Kasaija (Finance), and Tom Butime (Local government).
Some ministers, including Ruth Aceng (Health), and Muruli Mukasa (Public Service) sauntered in close to an hour after the House had commenced business.
The government Chief Whip, Ms Ruth Nankabirwa, who has been playing the role of Leader of Government Business for days now, accounted for only two ministers.
“Minister Hilary Onek is in Geneva on official duty attending a function. Minister Musa Echweru is also out of the country and he notified my office,” Ms Nankabirwa said.
She was responding to Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo, who had raised a point of procedure challenging her response to Burahya MP Margaret Muhanga, who had notified the House that her constituency had been hit by rainstorm and needed help.
Mr Ssekikubo said: “We raised the issues of ministers being away last week and it is the same matter even today. Is it right for the Chief Whip to keep covering up for other ministers just because they are not around?”
Government has 82 ministers who are all expected to be in the House to respond to queries from MPs and also raise issues during debate.
Last week on Thursday, only five ministers were in attendance. This incensed the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who threatened to name and shame absentees. She instructed the Clerk to Parliament to prepare the list of shame.
List of ministers who were not in the House on Tuesday
1. Betty Amongi
2. Esther Mbayo
3. Azuba Monica
4. Amelia Kyambade
5. Gen Henry Tumukunde
6. William Byaruhanga
7. Kahinda Otafiire
8. Idah Nantaba
9. Moses Kizige
10. Isaac Musumba
11. Janet Museveni Kataha
12. Hillary Onek
13. Musa Ecweru
14. Kirunda Kivejinja
15. Irene Muloni
16. Ephraim Kamuntu
17. Matia Kasaija
18. Prime Minister- Ruhakana Rugunda
19. Beti Olive Kamya
20. Peter Lokeris
21. Okello Oryem
22. Nakiwala Kiyingi
23. Frederick Ngobi Gume
24. Tom Butime
25. Hajjat Janat Mukwaya