OUR PARLIAMENT

Our Parliament is a radio program that is made to cover the business of parliament on a weekly basis; offering interpretation, analysis, opinion, and civic education in a radio magazine form. The program is produced in English and six local languages and broadcasts on more than 30 radio stations across Uganda. This program is a production of Wizarts Foundation. Listen to the most recent episodes below:


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9th Parliament Law Review
Episode 200|1st May 2016

On May 11 2016 the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga brought the tenure of the 9th Parliament to an end. Looking back over the last 5 years, the Speaker highlighted the 102 Bill passed into law as a major achievement. Given that Article 79(1) of the Constitution empowers Parliament to make laws for the peace, order, development and good governance of Uganda, has the 9th Parliament fulfilled its mandate?


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10th Parliament Starts
Episode 199|27th May 2016

Following the dissolution of the 9th Parliament on May 11 2016 and the swearing in of 426 elected Members of Parliament, from the 16th- 18th of May 2016, the 10th Parliament prepared to commence its 5 year tenure. At its first sitting on May 19 2016, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker were elected, an event that officially marked the commencement of the 10th Parliament. As it assumes its mandate, will the 10th Parliament fulfill its promise to the people, to make laws for the peace, order, development and good governance of Uganda?


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MPs Income Tax
Episode 198|18th May 2016

Article 79(1) of the Constitution of Uganda stipulates that Parliament has the power to make laws on any matter for the peace, order, development and good governance of Uganda. However this notion is being challenged by the decision of the 9th Parliament to pass the Income Tax Amendment Act 2016, exempting MPs from paying taxes on their allowances. As a result, the country will be denied billions of UGX in tax revenue every year. Which begs the question, can Parliament justifiably pass laws that first and foremost benefit its Members at the expense of the majority of Ugandans?


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Speaker Race
Episode 197|11th May 2016

Rule 5(3) of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament stipulates that no business shall be transacted in Parliament other than the election of the Speaker if that office is vacant. With the 9th Parliament coming to the end of its five year term following the election of Members of Parliament to serve in the 10th Parliament, the office of the Speaker has fallen vacant. Given that article 82(2) of the Constitution dictates that the Speaker and Deputy Speaker are elected by MPs from among their number. Who is the most suitable candidate?


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MPs Income Tax
Episode 196|4th May 2016

Article 79(1) of the Constitution of Uganda stipulates that Parliament has the power to make laws on any matter for the peace, order, development and good governance of Uganda. However this notion is being challenged by the decision of the 9th Parliament to pass the Income Tax Amendment Act 2016, exempting MPs from paying taxes on their allowances. As a result, the country will be denied billions of UGX in tax revenue every year. Which begs the question, can Parliament justifiably pass laws that first and foremost benefit its Members at the expense of the majority of Ugandans?


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South Sudan In EAC
Episode 195|27th April 2016

On April 15 2016, their excellencies Salva Kiir and John Magufuli the Heads of State of the Republic of South Sudan and Tanzania, signed a treaty admitting the Republic of South Sudan into the East African Community, EAC. Subsequently, President Magufuli who had been designated by the summit of EAC Heads of State to sign the treaty on their behalf, directed the EAC Secretariat to urgently develop a road map, to fast track the integration of the Republic of South Sudan into the activities and projects of the EAC. Both Heads of State agreed that the admission of the Republic of South Sudan into the EAC benefits the entire region. Yet the ongoing political instability in South Sudan challenges that notion and prompts the question what benefit can a country in the grips of violent nation building bring to the EAC?


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Cancer Response
Episode 194|20th April 2016

Government’s response to the growing prevalence of cancer has come into sharp focus in recent weeks after it emerged that a machine meant to treat cancer at Mulago Hospital has broken down. This unfortunate episode raises questions about Uganda’s health system and its capacity, to deliver adequate care to cancer patients. This uncertainty prompts yet another query, namely, what relief is available to critically ill cancer patients?


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Health Budget 2016
Episode 193|13th April 2016

The budget for the health sector for the financial year 2015/16 was conceived to achieve the following outcomes, increased deliveries in health facilities, increased immunization of children not yet one year old to protect them from life threatening diseases and to ensure health facilities receive adequate stocks of essential medicines. With the 2015/16 financial year at an end signaling the beginning of the 2016/17 financial year, Parliament is considering a new budget for the health sector which prompts two questions, firstly, what is there to show for last year’s budget and how should the money be spent this year?


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Kasese Clashes
Episode 192|06th April 2016

On March 24 2016 the Minister for Internal Affairs addressed the 9th Parliament on the outbreak of violence in Kasese following the 2016 elections. The statement echoed the one addressed to the media by the Inspector General of Police on March 13 2016. For they both implicate the Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu, a cultural leader, in violent attacks on the police and military units stationed in the area. This is an account is disputed by a number of Members of Parliament from the affected region. It is a dispute that is yet to be resolved amid continued bouts of violence in the region which prompts the question, what is happening in Kasese?


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Communication Amendment Bill
Episode 191|30th March 2016

The Uganda Communications Act 2013 was passed by the 9th Parliament to develop the communications sector which includes telecommunications and broadcasting. Section 93(1) of the Uganda Communications Act 2013 stipulates; that the Minister of Information and Communications Technology(ICT), may make regulations to implement the law but to do so must consult the Uganda Communications Commission and seek the approval of Parliament. However this section is now the subject of a proposed amendment known as the Uganda Communications Amendment Bill 2016. The proposal by the ICT Minister seeks to overturn the requirement for Parliamentary approval when making regulations, this has stirred controversy amid fears that this would grant the Minister more authority but without supervision it may subject to abuse. Are these fears justified?


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Hepatitis B
Episode 190|23rd March 2016

In a public statement to mark World Hepatitis Day on 28 July 2015, the Minister of Health Elioda Tumwesigye mentioned that there are 3.5 million Ugandans infected with chronic Hepatitis B. Implying that at least 1 in 10 Ugandans are living with a disease that inflames the liver and is spread through contaminated needles, sexual intercourse, blood transfusion as well as from an infected mother to her child. In response the government has embarked on initiatives to test and treat the infected as well as sensitize the public about the disease and vaccinate those at risk of infection. Parliament has facilitated this by appropriating some much needed funding but what is there to show for these efforts?


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World Bank Cancels Road Project
Episode 189|16th March 2016

On December 21 2015, the President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim announced in a statement to the press, the cancellation of the Uganda Transport Sector Development Project. This was due to breaches of contract that included allegations of sexual abuse by contractors hired by government to implement the project. The allegations stem from complaints from communities located along the Kamwenge Fort Portal road. The Ugandan government’s inability to address these concerns was cited by the World Bank President as a reason for cancelling the project. In the wake of this debacle, can the government ensure that justice prevails while regaining the trust of its development partners?


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Campaign Finance Update
Episode 188|09th March 2016

In a public statement announcing its preliminary findings regarding the 2016 general elections in Uganda , the African Union Election Observer Mission began by acknowledging reports of an unprecedented increase in campaign spending. This despite the law prohibiting all candidates except the President from using government resources during campaigns and in the absence of a law regulating political party campaign financing. The Mission therefore recommended that Parliament pass laws to regulate the financing of political parties and campaigns. Though not legally binding this recommendation highlights the need for legal reforms but why is such reform necessary?


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Children Amendment Bill 2015
Episode 187|2nd March 2016

After a recess for elections, the 9th Parliament resumed with the Children’s Amendment Bill 2015 as the first order of business. The private member’s bill being debated seeks to amend the Children’s Act to enhance the protection of children, provide for the guardianship of children, provide for inter-country adoption and prohibit corporal punishment. With the welfare and rights of children under increased threat from neglect, child traffickers, witchdoctors and pedophiles, can the House offer deliverance?


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Uganda Development Corporation
Episode 186|23rd Feb 2016

The Uganda Development Corporation Bill 2014 that seeks to establish the Uganda Development Corporation as the investment agency of the government of Uganda is the subject of ongoing debate in Parliament. As a measure to empower the government to work with the private sector to promote the industrialization of Uganda, the Bill has its merits. However there are concerns, not least, the fact that it is not immediately clear what the government has yielded from its investments thus far. While that uncertainty prevails can the government expect support for its investment initiatives?


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Maternal Health Update
Episode 185|17th Feb 2016

Following a decision by the Supreme Court to instruct the Constitutional Court to hear a petition brought against the government by the families of two women who died while giving birth, the Constitutional Court must determine whether the government is liable for failing to provide basic maternal health services. The petitioners argue that 16 women in Uganda die daily in the course of child birth because the government has failed in its duties to its citizens. The petition is among other things seeking compensation for the families of the two women now deceased. A prayer which echoes a motion adopted by the 9th Parliament urging the government to take measures to address maternal mortality. Will attempts to hold government responsible for the fact that for many women giving birth in Uganda is fatal, lower the risk for expectant mothers?


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Financial Institutions Amendment Bill
Episode 184|10th Feb 2016

Parliament passed the Financial Institution Amendment Bill 2015 to amend the Financial Institutions Amendment Act 2004. The new law seeks to improve access to quality financial services in a country where; according to a 2014 report by the Bank of Uganda, 4 in 5 Ugandans aged 16 years and older now use both formal and informal financial services. This is compared to 1 in 3 in 2006. Much of this greater financial inclusion is attributed to the growth of mobile money services. It is such changes over the last decade that informed Parliament’s decision to pass the new law. Which poses the question; with greater demand for financial services and a growing number of service providers will the new law adequately protect the interests of the customer?


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Ugandans Living In The Diaspora
Episode 183|03rd Feb 2016

Ugandans living and working abroad are playing an increasingly significant role in the development of the country. Be it through sending money to their loved ones in Uganda, investing in the country or promoting Uganda abroad. Yet there is concern among the Diaspora community that the government has not done enough to encourage and support their efforts. This poses a question, can more be done to empower Ugandans in the Diaspora looking to contribute to Uganda’s growth and if so, who is responsible for seizing the initiative?


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Nude Shows
Episode 182|27th Jan 2016

In its definition of Pornography, the Anti-pornography law includes indecent shows featuring people engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual excitement. Such shows popularly known as Kimansulo remain popular despite the law against them. Much to the frustration of advocates of the Anti-pornography law. This frustration has reached the floor of Parliament with Members of Parliament voicing their concern at this failure of law enforcement. Can the government together with the citizens of Uganda do more to ensure respect for this law?


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Government Loans
Episode 181|20th Jan 2016

Parliament has approved some and rejected a number of loan requests made to it by government following a heated debate. The loans are intended to among other things, boost agricultural production, improve access to clean water, develop an inland port and to strengthen the weak Ugandan shilling. The debate informed by recommendations from the House Committee on National Economy raised questions about how the money would be used and accounted for as well as how it would be repaid. Can the government sustain this level of borrowing?


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Voters Register
Episode 180|13th Jan 2016

It is the duty of every citizen of Ugandan of 18 years of age or above to register as a voter for public elections, so says Article 59(2) of the Constitution. In addition, Article 59(3) stipulates that the State shall take all necessary steps to ensure that all citizens qualified to vote register and exercise their right to vote. This means that while every citizen of Uganda of 18 years of age or above has a right to vote, each individual in a process facilitated by the State, should register to be allowed to vote. The Electoral Commission is responsible for compiling and maintaining the national voters register and with the 2016 polls looming, the integrity of the voters register is in sharp focus in light of some glaring omissions that are cause for concern. Are these concerns legitimate?


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Betting Update
Episode 179|06th Jan 2016

According to a report by the House committee on finance, planning and economic development on the Lotteries and Gaming Bill 2013; gambling is inevitable and as a leisure activity it is a form of entertainment. Therefore since it can’t be banned, responsible gambling should be promoted. The report goes on to propose that a fair portion of the profits from gambling be granted to the government, to deal with the social ills caused by gambling. These observations inform the proposals that comprise the Lotteries and Gaming Bill 2013 which sets out to reform the law relating to gambling and was passed by Parliament. Given the continued growth of the gaming industry does this law empower government to cope with the adverse effects of this emerging culture of gambling?


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Immunization Act
Episode 178|30th December 2015

Parliament has passed the Immunization Bill into law. The objective of this law is to reduce death and disability due to preventable diseases in children and women of child bearing age by improving access to immunization services. It was deemed necessary because the existing laws were viewed as inadequate and not up to date with current disease trends. It is also widely acknowledged that there are considerable numbers of children in Uganda who are not immunized. So while the government can rightly take credit for strides made in improving the delivery of immunization services, it can be held accountable for failures that result in preventable deaths. Does this law do enough to compel and empower the government to act?


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Mobilization
Episode 177|23rd December 2015

In a rare move, the Speaker of the 9th Parliament of Uganda has written to the Chairman of the Electoral Commission requesting the suspension of Parliamentary campaigns while the House sits to deliberate some urgent business. The Speaker’s request has been honored to the relief of the House whose members are struggling to fulfill their duties while campaigning for reelection. With increased pressure on their time and resources brought on by the campaigns, can MPs still be effective in the little time they have left?


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NGO Act
Episode 176|16th December 2015

The NGO Act passed into law by the 9th Parliament of Uganda seeks to provide a conducive and enabling environment for Non Governmental Organizations; to strengthen and support the capacity of NGOs and their partnership with government and to provide for a National NGO Board and strengthen its capacity to register, regulate and monitor NGO activities. Although it is widely recognized that this effort to coordinate the sector is long overdue, it has provoked debate about the relationship between NGOs and the government. Prompting the question, does the government still view NGOs as important allies in the development of this country?


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HIV/AIDS Act
Episode 175|9th December 2015

According to the 2014 Uganda HIV and AIDS Country Progress report there were 1.5 million people living with HIV/AIDS. A decrease from 1.6 million in the previous year, 2013. This reduction is the result of a concerted effort by government and its partners which is ongoing. In light of this Parliament passed the HIV AIDS Control and Prevention Act which made it government’s duty to manage the HIV and AIDS scourge. How will government respond to this responsibility and is it equipped for the task?


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Karamoja Famine
Episode 174|2nd December 2015

Extreme weather in Karamojja is threatening food security in the region. As a food shortage in Moroto and Napak districts has led to people starving especially the elderly and the young. Emergency aid has been sent to the region with the government responsive in its efforts to mobilize relief. However given that the region has a recent history of famine and hunger, what needs to be done to end this unfortunate cycle?


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Campaign Finance
Episode 173|25th November 2015

The advent of multi party politics in 2005 meant greater competition for elected offices at all levels of government. This contest has only intensified in subsequent elections leading to expectations that the forthcoming 2016 polls will be keenly fought. In such contests, money or the lack of it is decisive. All candidates and political parties need money to compete in elections however this necessity makes them vulnerable to fraud and falling under the influence of donors. Which is why it is important to know where their money comes from and how it is used. Section 12 of the Political Parties and Organizations Act of 2010 dictates that every political party or organization maintains an up to date record of any and all donations received as well as the names of the donors even if they are not citizens of Uganda. Despite this law, little is known about how election campaigns are financed or by whom?


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Pension Scam Update
Episode 172|18th November 2015

Following a decision by the Anti Corruption Court to dismiss the case against employees of the Ministry of Public Service accused of stealing pensions worth 165 Billion UGX; on the grounds that the State had over a period of 2 years failed to present any witness to testify against the suspects, the Directorate of Public Prosecution reinstated the case. With the matter now in court the DPP aims to prove that the accused created ghost pensioners in order to defraud government. However given that the DPP previously failed in its pursuit of justice for the victims of this crime, what hope is there for the long suffering pensioners?


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Public Finance Amendment Bill
Episode 171|11th November 2015

Heralded at the time of its passing into law as a long term solution to chronic mismanagement of public funds, the Public Finance Management Act 2015 is up for amendment. The proposals come at a time when the government is facing a cash shortage that is hindering the implementation of the budget and testing its commitment to sound management of tax payer’s money and accountability. This uncertainty issues from proposed amendments that relax the requirements for supplementary spending and for government to borrow money without the approval of Parliament. Are such amendments becoming of a government looking to address a culture of poor financial management?


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Free Press
Episode 170|04th November 2015

Article 29(1) (a) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda stipulates that every person shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression which shall include freedom of the press and other media. These freedoms are not absolute however, because the limits on them are as stipulated in Article 43(1) which require that in enjoying these rights and freedoms, no one shall prejudice the rights of others. This balance has proved elusive in practice as evidenced by the findings of the 2015 World Press Freedom Index, which ranked Uganda 97th out of 180 countries. While this was an improvement on a ranking of 110 the previous year, it still indicates that Uganda is yet to achieve the media freedom envisaged in the Constitution. How can these freedoms be realized and protected?


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Election Violence
Episode 169|28th October 2015

Throughout its history, elections in Uganda have been synonymous with violence and although its intensity post 1995 has subsided, the country is yet to experience violence free elections. Perhaps it is no coincidence given that elections in this country have rarely been free and fair. With the 2016 polls imminent there are concerns that they will be marred by violence. Are these concerns legitimate? Can Ugandans exercise their right to vote in peace?


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AGOA
Episode 168|21st October 2015

Following the US government’s decision to renew its trade pact with Africa, known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA, for another 10 years, remarks by the Speaker of the 9th Parliament of Uganda to the media alluded to the fact this represented another opportunity for Uganda to take advantage of, after years of failure. Failure the Speaker attributed to limited Parliamentary oversight in the negotiation and implementation of the trade deal. Can Uganda take advantage of the new trade terms to create jobs for the unemployed and improve the livelihoods of Ugandans?


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Health Insurance
Episode 167|14th October 2015

According to the Health Sector Strategic Plan 2010-2015, the Ministry of Health found that for every 1000 UGX a household spends, 90 UGX are spent on health care. This is despite the availability of free health services at government health units and hospitals. This is because if as often is the case there are no medicines in public health facilities, individuals have to pay for the health care provided by private health facilities. It is also known that individuals often have to pay for supposedly free services. This is why 1 in 20 households are facing financial ruin and certain poverty due to soaring medical bills. A situation that highlights the need for a national health insurance scheme as the Health minister explains.


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Electoral Reforms
Episode 166|7th October 2015

The President has assented to a raft of new electoral laws passed by Parliament. The laws aim to facilitate free and fair elections by amending the laws that govern both Presidential and Parliamentary elections as well as the activities of the Electoral Commission. This was preceded by a heated debate in Parliament among members of the Committee for Legal and Constitutional Affairs delegated by the Speaker of the House, to consider the proposals and then report to the House. Apparent throughout the debate was the fact that some committee members felt they needed more time to consider the proposals and also questioned the motives of the proposals. Do these concerns have any merit or is a looming general election a greater concern?


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Disabled MPs
Episode 165|30th September 2015

Article 78(1) (c) of the Constitution stipulates that Parliament shall consist of representatives of persons with disabilities. These 5 Members of Parliament, one of whom must be a woman, are elected by an electoral college of representatives of people with disabilities from each district as prescribed in the Parliamentary Elections Act 2005. However this method of election is up for debate as part of the ongoing debate to reform how elections are conducted in this country, to ensure that the will of the people is exercised and elected leaders are accountable to the electorate. Can people with disabilities hold their MPs accountable? If not they be empowered lawfully to do so?


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Youth Participation
Episode 164| 23rd September 2015

A 2013 report by the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs; a group of some 78 MPs advocating for the interests of youth in Parliament, assessed youth participation in government programs like NAADS. The report found that such programs failed to address the main concern of Ugandan youths which is poverty due to unemployment. According to the report, the reason for this failure was because the youth had limited say and influence in these programs. The report recommended involving the youth that is, those aged between 18 and 35 years, in the planning and designing of such programs for better results. As an illustration, these findings serve to highlight the urgent need for Ugandan youth to take a leadership role and influence the way the country is governed. Are they ready to assume this responsibility? Has enough been done to prepare them for it?


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