Thursday, February 26, 2015
The Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is Unserious, Biased and Just a Joke
Written by Mwine Millicent – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, 26th February, 2015
Yesterday – 25 February 2015 – the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda started investigating a complaint concerning underperformance of the Law Development Centre (LDC). The investigation arises from a complaint lodged in parliament by a citizens’ lobby and pressure group codenamed Friends International–Uganda, led by Mr Bakampa Brian Baryaguma. The complaint is available online at http://www.bbbakampa.blogspot.com/2014/05/complaint-concerning-under-performance_10.html. The complaint calls for a serious, in-depth, and independent parliamentary inquiry into the issues raised against LDC, which primarily have to do with the matter of very high failure rates of the Bar course students at the Centre. This is the standard requested and expected of parliament, but judging from yesterday’s Committee proceedings, I dare say that it will not be met and satisfied.
First, according to the Parliament website, the Committee has 30 MPs, yet yesterday, only a paltry nine members were there, which is way less than half of the Committee membership. Those present were Honourables (for lack of a better word) Fox Odoi Oywelowo (ad hoc Chairperson), Ndeezi Alex, Ochua David, Nyakecho Okwenye Annet, Byarugaba Alex Bakunda, Amoding Monica, Abdu Katuntu, Joseph Balikuddembe, and Sam Amooti Otada. Now this extreme minority purports to be acting for and on behalf of an absolute majority, and will thereafter write a report, holding it out to be a report of the whole Committee (which anyway is not surprising in a parliament known to even pass laws without quorum). This insignificant attendance is a show of gross unseriousness.
Second, all the members present were so biased against, negative and pre-judgmental of the complainants, particularly Mr Bakampa, that honestly even if they finally appear, they cannot expect a fair hearing and assessment of their case against LDC. In particular, for example, Hon. Ochua David remarked cynically and condescendingly, that, ‘He should go and pass exams instead of wasting our time.’ They dismissively discussed and castigated the complaint saying that it does not raise any new things other than what others have been saying before. It is only a fool’s dream to expect the Committee to conduct an in-depth inquiry in this matter. Their minds are already made-up, and probably the report already written, rejecting the complainants’ case and proposals. Then, Hon. Joseph Balikuddembe also remarked contemptuously of Mr Bakampa saying that, ‘You should be able to manoeuvre through the loopholes and constraints in the system.’ I don’t know whether the MP is suggesting that Mr Bakampa should have also slept around with lecturers or bribed them with money to pass, like it is known that he (Hon. Balikuddembe) bribed one of his lecturers with Uganda shillings three million only (Ugx 3,000,000/-) to pass one of his papers. Moreover, while debating this matter on the floor of Parliament on Wednesday, 3rd December, 2014, Hon. Byarugaba Alex Bakunda and other Committee members strongly opposed hearing the complaint, so much so that he even falsely claimed that they had met the LDC petitioners before, up to 8:00 pm in the night! If they can lie on the floor of Parliament, they can lie in a report.
Third, it is my opinion that the Committee is just joking in performance of its mandate. When the 15-members strong team from LDC came, led by the Director, they virtually conceded to whatever criticism was in the complaint, except that they claimed to have implemented reforms, and may be raised a few defences, for instance, that the kind of monopoly LDC enjoys is international practice, and so should be maintained even here. The Committee members were so full of praise for them, that they even thanked them for hosting them on a previous tour. As an oversight Committee, its members have been so hobnobbing with the LDC officials that they cannot be expected to independently investigate them. The whole investigation is a sham from the very start.
The Committee’s performance can only be decimal, because the members are very petty and trivial. The ever optimistic Mr Bakampa, as the leader of this struggle, should find merit in the views of those who distrust the workings of this fake Committee. We should just abandon it!