Friday, May 29, 2009



27th May, 2009

By Barbara Among

Members of Parliament of the ruling National Resistance Movement performed better than their opposition counterparts at constituency and committee level, according to the latest report of the African Leadership Institute, a Kampala think-tank.

However, MPs from opposition parties performed better in plenary sessions of Parliament, while independent MPs were slightly better in influencing the debate.

The third Parliamentary Scorecard, to be released officially today, reveals that while opposition MPs scored an average of 61% for their contributions in plenary sessions, NRM members scored only 50%.

In committee debates, however, opposition MPs scored 50% while the average NRM MP scored 54%. Similarly, at the constituency level, opposition MPs received a score of 43% while NRM MPs scored 48%.

The best performing party over-all was the Uganda People Congress (UPC). It scored 70% in plenary work, 65% in committee work and 73% in constituency performance.

The African Leadership Institute, headed by former External Security Organisation boss David Pulkol, assesses MPs on their contributions, attendance and influence in committee and plenary (full House) debates.

It also evaluates MPs’ performance in their constituencies by checking their attendance of LC5 meetings, their accessibility by phone, and the presence of an office or staff.

This year’s top-performing MPs were Nathan Byayima (NRM), John Odit (UPC), John Arimpa Kigyagi (NRM), James Byandala (NRM), Ssebuliba Mutumba (DP) and Stephen Tashoya (NRM).

At the bottom of the list are ministers and army MPs. For the backbenchers, worst performers are Jim Muhwezi (NRM), Pius Mujunzi (NRM), Aston Peterson Kajara (now a minister), Sylvia Nambide Ssinabulya (NRM), Sara Mwebaza (NRM) and Ali Lubyayi Kisiki (NRM).

MPs who were unimpressive last year and remained at the bottom of the list are NRM’s Mujunzi, Lubyayi, Peter Bakaluba Mukasa (NRM) and Anthony Mukasa (NRM).

The three best performing in the plenary debates were MPs David Bahati (NRM), Tom Butime (NRM) and Livingstone Okello Okello (UPC).

The best performing committee chairpersons were John Odit (UPC), Deusdedit Bikwasizehi (NRM), James Kubeketerya (NRM), Kaddunabbi Lubega (NRM), Nathan Byanyima and Tindamanyire Kabondo.

Among the ministers, best performing were Adolf Mwesige, Bright Rwamirama, Emmanuel Otaala, Janat Mukwaya, Beatrice Wabudeya and Matia Kasaija.

The 2009 report, which covers the period between June 2007 and July 2008, invoked fury among MPs who tried to block its release claiming they had been unfairly judged in the previous report.

However, this year, MPs participated in the survey. Each was asked to asses the performance of 15 colleagues in terms of quality, analysis, teamwork, oversight, intra-party influence and public conduct.

The data from this year’s scorecard suggests that parliamentary business is dominated by a small number of MPs, often leaders of their respective parties.

Opposition leaders receive high scores for their level of participation, which is more than double the average participation of Government leaders.

Although Government leaders participate less, they are more influential when they do participate, the survey says.

Male MPs performed marginally better than their female counterparts. However, many individual women did extremely well and among those elected by universal adult suffrage, women performed better than men in many respects.

Constituency MPs performed particularly better than those elected to represent special interest groups, with MPs representing the army performing the poorest.

The report also shows that MPs from the West performed better than other MPs. Moreover, unlike MPs from other regions, they performed consistently well in both plenary and committee debates and in their constituencies.

MPs from the East and North performed well in plenary debates but poorly in constituency work, while MPs from the Central region performed the poorest across the board.

Although their constituencies are closer to Parliament, MPs from the Central region performed worse on attendance in the House than their colleagues from other parts of the country. Overall, plenary attendance was significantly higher this year than last year, climbing from 23% to 45%.

While 15 MPs did not attend a single plenary session last year, the number dropped to four this year. In addition, 136 MPs attended over half of all the sittings this year, compared to only four MPs last year.

Attendance of local council meetings has worsened since the last survey. About 69% of MPs and district woman representatives did not attend a single LC5 meeting, up from 40% in the previous scorecard.

The study, however, found that MPs are more accessible by mobile phone than in the past. In only seven constituencies, none of the five participants was able to obtain a correct phone number for their MP.

Although MPs are provided resources to facilitate the hiring of an office and a staff member to handle constituent issues, the study found that nearly one third of MPs did not have any.

It also found that most MPs (308 out of 321) officially accounted for the money they received under the Constituency Development Fund.

Overall, 55 committee reports were presented this year and 25 Bills were initiated by 13 different NRM MPs. This is not much of a departure from the previous period under investigation, when 22 Bills were brought to the floor by 14 NRM MPs.

Of the Bills presented in the House this year, 17 passed. The Bills covered a range of topics but the majority focused on issues relating to the economy and governance.