Speaker Jacob Oulanyah faced a tough time to convince Members of Parliament on why they need to attend a meeting called by Education Minister Janet Kataha Museveni at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds on wednesday morning instead of formally making a statement to the House.

Ms Museveni who is also the First Lady on November 16 wrote to the Speaker inviting MPs to attend a meeting she is convening at Kololo to consult them on the process of reopening all schools in January next year. President Museveni has recently revealed that all schools that are not currently running will start in January next year when the whole economy is reopened after two years of lockdown due to Covid-19 outbreak.

While opening the proceedings of Parliament on Tuesday, the Speaker asked the MPs to take Covid-19 tests in order to be granted access to Kololo where they will meet with the First Lady in her capacity as Education Minister.

“We were sent a message that from yesterday (Monday) we should have started testing so that we can go and listen to this message and maybe have a discussion. Every time this Parliament sits, there has been a message about the opening of schools. The opportunity we have is tomorrow at 10 O’clock” the Speaker said. 

Oulanyah said that the engagement with the Education Minister will be a semi-Parliamentary sitting where he will chair the proceedings without dressed in the Speaker’s wig and robes. 

But this did not go well with Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga who questioned the procedure in which MPs are being invited to another venue instead of the Minister coming to Parliament as provided for in the Rules of Procedure. 

“Rule 32 provides that the members after listening to a statement of a Minister, they will debate. Hitherto, we would convene in the Parking yard with tents raised. Why is it that the Minister would not come down to this Parliament and address this House” Mpuuga stated.

He added that MPs are concerned that the meeting will set a precedent whereby anyone avoiding being challenged on the floor of Parliament would invite MPs for an ordinary meeting where their inputs will not be binding.

Still raising on point of procedure, Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda attempted to persuade the Speaker to change his position in which he allowed MPs to go to Kololo but instead invite the Minister to Parliament. 

“The Minister in particular is not doing this in good faith. She has never stepped here (since the term began) and even she was vetted on zoom. This invitation of a Minister is subjecting us to take a Covid-19 test. To have a whole Speaker go to Kololo, in our sake Mr Speaker, please don’t go” Ssemujju added.

Kalungu West MP Joseph Ssewungu also said the Ministry is set to spend a lot of money on organising a meeting outside Parliament instead of spending the funds on helping schools prepare for reopening. He alleged that at least Shs1b will be spent on tomorrow’s meeting which the Speaker had indicated may also be attended by President Museveni.

State Minister for Higher Education, Chrysestom Muyingo quickly responded saying Mr Ssewungu had lied to the House because the planned meeting will not see any funds spent by the Ministry. 

Speaker Oulanyah who insisted that the MPs have to attend the meeting and may debate issues later on during plenary said that he did not flaut any rules by committing to the Minister that legislators will attend the meeting.

“I have listened to Ssemujju and I have not heard one reason to make me change my decision. The issue is just about receiving information. My request is that we receive information the way it has been passed to us and we handle it later on the way we want” the Speaker ruled on the procedural matters.

However, Ssemujju who had raised the same procedural matters last Thursday when Deputy Speaker Anita Among made the same communication, this time failed to convince the House to consider a motion without notice in which he had proposed that a resolution be passed for MPs not to go to Kololo.

The Speaker said that he was trying to find a “ back and hard way” to challenge his guidance adding that; “ the motion is not sustainable in law”. 

He asked MPs who want to attend the meeting at Kololo to go take Covid-19 tests and those who do not want to remain wherever they will be because Parliament will find a way of making sure the information reaches them. 

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