Parliament’s Communication and Public Affairs (CPA) Director, Chris Obore, has asked the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline to interest itself in the House of Commons code of conduct.
He said the comprehensive ethical code of conduct of the House of Commons would help strengthen the conduct of members in detail as it looks beyond the language MPs use, how MPs transact business, their role in their other works, and if they pay taxes among others.
“It would inform on where we want to go as MPs, outside and inside the House what do you do as a Member, if you have a school, how do you behave, how do you treat the people, so that you are a complete leader?” the director.
Obore, alongside the Ag. Deputy Editor of Hansard, Moses Bwalatum, and Ag. Principal Information Officer, Charles Bukuwa, appeared before the committee on Wednesday, 21 September 2022.
The committee is probing allegations of misconduct against the State Minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Hon. Persis Namuganza. It is alleged that Namuganza undermined the role of Parliament’s Ad hoc committee set up to investigate the Naguru-Nakawa land saga.
The Ad hoc committee faulted Namuganza for allegedly unlawfully manipulating the allocation of plots in the Nakawa-Naguru land. Namuganza reportedly took to the 11th Parliament Official WhatsApp group comprised of Members of Parliament and key staff, where she made the statements.
The team led by Obore, was tasked to appear before the committee as administrators of the group. They presented printed versions of the WhatsApp messages whose authenticity the committee managed to prove.
While before the committee, MPs asked Obore to explain the purpose of the formation of the WhatsApp group, the membership. They also sought to know if the said statement was actually posted by Hon. Namuganza and what they did about it.
The committee vice-chairperson, Fr. Charles Onen, asked Obore to explain if they tried to warn or caution errant Members, let alone remove them from the group.
“If negative comments are being made, you can advise as an administrator and if you can also remove such a person, or warn the person that if you continue doing this, we are going to remove you,” Onen inquired.
However Hon. Catherine Mavenjina, the Representative of Older Persons from Northern Uganda questioned if this is possible since the MPs are superior to the staff.
Obore concurred with Hon. Mavenjina.
“By hierarchy, you are our superiors, we cannot be seen to be supervising or monitoring what our bosses are doing, but when this matter came up, we went back to cross-check and we found the information there,” Obore said.
Hon. Cecilia Ogwal, the Dokolo Woman MP, said that although the MPs are bosses to staff, the staff of Parliament are technical and there is no contradiction in them advising MPs.
“I do not see any contradiction in a member of staff putting down in writing either to the person concerned or to the Clerk to Parliament, to say I have observed this kind of behavior happening and may be necessary for some action to be taken,” Ogwal said.
Obore added: “We believe that as a national leader, you have a conviction of what good governance is, you can interact with your colleagues, disagree, debate with them without becoming emotional or vulgar,” he said.
In closing, Fr. Onen acknowledged the recommendation from Obore and said that the committee would interest itself.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.