Members of Parliament have been advised to work from their constituencies during the two weeks of Parliament lockdown. This come after concerns raised by Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament -LOP indicating that the closure has left MPs stranded.
Parliament last week announced that it would close for two weeks in order to curb the risks of COVID-19.
For the three Parliament events of Election of Speaker, Budget reading and the NRM Caucus, 3,000 people were tested and close to 200 tested positive for COVID-19.
Despite the house not sitting, several events like party caucuses, press conferences, and MPs’ engagements have been happening at Parliament.
However Mpuuga says that it is in times like this that Parliament is expected to be functional.
Mpuuga in a letter dated June 24th said that the announcement from Parliament fell short of guiding members on how and where to conduct the business of Parliament during the closure of the premises.
“The mandate and duty of Parliament to the population has now been required to intervene in the situation like it is now,” he said.
Mpuuga proposed that a digital engagement can be considered by Parliament instead of completely going on lockdown.
The Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige who has directed that no one be allowed in Parliament, said that MPs are expected to work from their constituencies and sensitize Ugandans in the constituencies on COVID-19 dangers.
“I would expect them to work from their constituencies, because they should be at the top of campaigning against COVID-19 in their constituencies.” Kibirige said.
She says that if it is non-Parliamentary business, MPs are free to do what they want. She also said that there is no work for MPs at Parliament.
“That one they can arrange in their party offices, that is not Parliament work, they are free to do whatever they want,” she said.
Asked about MPs who would insist on coming to Parliament, Kibirige said that it is up to them, since they are adults.
The Parliament’s Communications and Public Affairs Director Chris Ariko Obore says that the two weeks’ break is precautionary to help in the national efforts to stem the new and deadly wave of Covid19.
He also says that during this period there is no work expected from MPs unless there is a national emergency, adding that two weeks is not an eternity especially since people are dying in large numbers.
“This is a global public health crisis and MPs as national leaders understand the situation at hand,” he said. “Citizens are dying and the costs of managing Covid-19 are threatening the livelihoods of families. Yet the only sure way so far of avoiding getting Covid-19 is social distancing and other standard operating procedures.”
Obore says these measures are better than hospitalization and the huge costs and death, adding that situations like this that affect all and require national consensus not discordant voices.