Kampala. Members of Parliament (MPs) last evening voted to increase the term of Parliament from five to seven years.
They said this will give legislators time to finish parliamentary business, for the development of Uganda.
“Five years have been found to be too short for purposes of development,” Michael Tusiime, the Mbarara Municipality MP said.
“During the first two years, Members are getting acclimatised to Parliamentary procedures, conduct and business.”
He added that during the first two years, many legislators are held up in the courts of law over possible election petitions.
“Accordingly, most Members settle in the third year to start serious parliamentary business. Then during the fourth year, Members are preparing for primaries within their political parties,” Mr Tusiime added.
Also to be increased to seven, from five years, is the term of local government councils.
This is meant to align their term with that of Parliament and President “since government must act as one”.
Budadiri West MP, Nandala Mafabi, questioned the interest of those who supported the increase.
“Rule 93 of our rules of procedure requires declaration of personal interest in any matter before the House,” Mr Mafabi said.
“What Tusiime is raising is not of interest to the current members. A member shall not take part in a discussion or any matter before the House in which he has direct pecuniary interest unless he or she has declared the nature of the interest to the House.”
He said the contract the Tenth Parliament has with the electorate is for five years.
On hearing this, some of his colleagues booed Mr Mafabi.
Contributing to debate on the same issue, Barnabas Tinkasiimire, the Buyaga West MP, said the House is becoming unbearable.
The legislators also voted in support of increasing the term of the current local government councils.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said that since Parliament is the legislative arm of the government, it has to make the amendments on behalf of local government councils and for the President.
The Deputy Attorney General, Mwesigwa Rukutana, said the proposed amendment will not impact on the Treasury.
“The Ministry of Finance gave us a Certificate of Financial Implication, which indicated that contrary to what Nandala Mafabi is saying, if the expected amendments pass, the country will register saving in revenue,” Mr Rukutana said.
“The principle to extend the current term of office of the President, Parliament and local councils does not have additional funding implications to government beyond the current emoluments and allowances which shall be met within the existing resources…”
He said if the amendments are approved, there would be no general elections in 2021.
That, he added, would mean savings for the government resources earmarked for elections in 2021 and that there would be no need to buy vehicles for MPs in 2021.