Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah was November 23 afternoon involved in efforts to convince opposition MPs to agree to attend a meeting with First Lady and Education Minister Janet Kataaha Museveni at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds.
The meeting was meant to discuss the education ministry’s school reopening plan.
During today’s plenary, Speaker Oulanyah reminded the MPs of the consultative meeting and emphasized why the legislators should attend.
“We received a communication from the Education Minister who wanted to pass on a message on how schools will be opened in January 2022. This is an opportunity for us all to listen and see how we can have these processes to open the schools,” said the speaker.
“Let us go and have our Covid19 tests and we meet in Kololo tomorrow for this meeting. It will be a semi-parliamentary sitting which I will chair. Let us be there and get this information.
But Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda (FDC) sought to move a motion challenging the ‘summons’ by the first lady for parliament to convene in “an informal environment,” saying this contravened the Rules of Procedure.
Ssemujju also opposed the mandatory Covid19 mandatory tests for MPs ahead of the Kololo meeting.
“You [Speaker Oulanyah] didn’t subject us to testing today to come to this sitting. We are setting a bad precedent by allowing this to happen,” said Ssemujju, further advising the speaker not to embarrass himself by honoring a minister’s ‘summons’ to Kololo.
Other MPs from the opposition aisle criticized the invitation to Kololo.
“We have tried to have her appear before the Committee on Government Assurances but failed. How do we handle her in this situation?” asked Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze Bakireke, who doubles as the Chairperson of the Committee on Government Assurances.
“Why can’t the minister present her issues virtually like has been the case before? How do we interact with her if it is not a sitting of the House? How shall we ask her questions and how shall we respond? Let us use the virtual space,” said Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko.
“Aren’t we opening a Pandora’s Box where ministers will decline to come to Parliament?” asked Leader of Opposition in Parliament Mathias Mpuuga.
Speaker Oulanyah insisted that the MPs attend the Kololo meeting.
“My request is that we receive the information the way it is proposed and then we handle it later the way we want to handle it as Parliament. My decision is based on the bigger issue of schools re-opening. I am thinking of the students, pupils and teachers. Banks are taking these schools; we have talked about these issues. If there is any debate to follow up, we shall reconvene and debate,” said Oulanyah.
“Schools face repossession by banks and this House noted that teenage pregnancies have increased during closure of schools. MPs represent the people of this country, there is information that will be made available for us to resolve the situation. Let’s focus on the big picture. Let us go and have our Covid19 tests and we meet in Kololo tomorrow for this meeting. It will be a semi-parliamentary sitting which I will chair. Let us be there and get this information.”