Friday, May 29, 2009



28th May, 2009

By Mary Karugaba, Madinah
Tebajukira, Catherine Bekunda & Brian Mayanja

Several MPs, both from the ruling National Resistance Movement and the opposition, yesterday scoffed at their performance rating by the African Leadership Institute, calling it ‘rubbish’.

The parliamentary scorecard assesses MPs’ performance based on their contributions, attendance and influence in committees and plenary debates.

It also grades their performance at constituency level by checking their attendance of LC5 meetings, their accessibility by phone, and
the presence of an office or staff.

The latest report, which was officially launched yesterday, covers the period between June 2007 and May 2008.

Trade minister Kahinda Otafiire did not mince his words when asked to comment on his score (0%-40%).

“It is rubbish,” he said and switched off his phone.

Opposition MPs accused the Government of using the African Leadership Institute to taint their image in their constituencies.

Addressing the press at Parliament yesterday, FDC secretary general Alice Alaso said although the principle of the survey was good, the Government could be using the institute’s director, David Pulkol, a former boss of external security, to portray them as non-performers.

“The report rates MPs from western Uganda, mainly from NRM, as best performers. Yet I know many members who are always in their constituencies. It is unfortunate that they have been rated poorly,” she said.

Citing herself as an example, she said MPs who had done excellent work in their constituencies were judged unfairly in the scorecard.

“Who doesn’t know that I am a very good MP, both in Parliament and in the constituency? I am exceptional. My car is sometimes used as an ambulance, carrying bodies and sick people,” Alaso, who scored F for constituency work, stressed.

She added that people in her constituency would not give out her telephone number, one of the ways of assessing MPs’ accessibility, because they are protective of her.

“You can’t ask them for our telephone numbers and they give it to you. The researchers asked three out of five people who had my number and all of them said they did not know me. But moments later, they called me and informed me that some strangers were looking for me.”

The researchers, she suggested, should change their methodology by consulting MPs and letting the people in their constituencies do the rating.

Julius Emigu (FDC) wondered what Pulkol’s agenda could be. “What is his interest? Why didn’t he do it when he was still an MP for Matheniko? I think he is now revenging.”

Elijah Okupa (FDC) believes the best people to judge them are the voters.

“I have opened more than 60 community roads in my constituency and one of the roads is named after me,” the Kasilo MP, who scored D for constituency work, said.

He suggested they use the MPs’ roles in monitoring and legislation as parameters.

But others who scored highly in the survey welcomed it.

Erias Lukwago (DP), who scored Bs for both plenary and constituency work, said it was a reflection of the performance of Parliament in Uganda.

“We have failed the people of Uganda who expected a multiparty Parliament to be more vibrant. We have not fought corruption to expectation. Pulkol and his group have done a good job. We should accept to be assessed,” he noted.

Matia Kasaija, who tops the list of ministers and scored an A for constituency work, said he was pleasantly surprised.

“Every fortnight I have to be with my people so that I listen to their problems. One needs to know his constituents’ problems to present them to Parliament,” he noted.

Animal industry minister Bright Rwamirama wondered which parameters Pulkol used.

“I do not go to the plenary to talk for the sake of talking.”

He explained that as a Cabinet minister, there is collective responsibility whereby the leader of Government business presents their views.

John Arimpa Kigyagi (NRM), who was the best performing MP, said he owes his score to research and analytical skills.

“To be a good MP, you need good communication and public relations skills and you must have the ability to understand and resolve conflicts,” he advised.

Emma Boona (NRM), who scored highly across the board, argued that voters were more interested in service delivery than their MPs’ attendance in Parliament.

“People in the villages have more pressing issues which are not about attendance. This report is in bad faith, intended to arm our opponents,” she said.

Matthias Kasamba, another NRM MP and chairperson of the defence committee, dismissed the report as inaccurate.

“How can they say I have no committee yet I am a chairperson? Based on this, how can I believe the rest of the content?” he wondered.

Abdu Katuntu (FDC), who scored among the highest, described the scorecard as useless and outdated because it contained members who ceased being in Parliament. Yet, he said, the idea was good.

“Though the report might have its own weaknesses and intentions, we should work hard to improve on the gaps.”