By Betty Nambooze
On Friday (May 28) many Ugandans received with a mixed- reaction the news that the National Unity Platform (NUP) Principal Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu and the executive had appointed me to head the Government Assurance Committee (GAC).
The fact of the matter is that many people had never heard about this committee. Mulungi (daughter) is one of such people and by asking me why I had been appointed to head a committee she has never heard of. She was making this observation for many other people.
What is GAC?
The Committee on Government Assurances (GAC) in Uganda is constituted under rule 156 (1) (h) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Parliament.
The Committee previously consisted of between 20 -30 Members of Parliament drawn from both sides of the House having been nominated by the Chief Whip of their side. On the side of the opposition the Chief Whip assigns membership of all committees in consultation with the Party Whips and by preference of members.
I don’t agree with those who allege and even condemn the former leaders who were in charge of this accountability committee for failing to make it visible. I equally disagree with those citing this committee as a weak outfit.
And I promise that by the time we complete our term of leadership at least majority Ugandans will be aware of the existence of this committee and how much we can achieve if the Chairperson and her team invest themselves into calling upon the executive to account to the people of Uganda.
The GAC is a permanently opposition led committee with a duty of carrying out oversight on the executive arm of Government. The difference you will see will only be a result of the different management style of this committee. Most probably this is why we advocate for change of Government.
Politically I’m an activist and not a boardroom politician. You will therefore see activism in whatever I do. As a Principal I don’t operate in silence because experience shows that silence and the experience of being compromised are cousins. One thing that has made our opposition leaders to accept the executive set standards which are lower than the desirable is silence or indifference.
Ideologically I believe in an accountable leadership. A leadership that believes in putting people first in all what we do and this is the true meaning of the phrase “People Power, Our Power”
This time around I guess that we are to have some more members on these committees because of the numbers in Parliament. The Chairperson holds this office until a new Committee is nominated and the end of a Parliamentary term or during a reshuffle as the leading opposition party leadership may decide.
In summary the Committee on Government Assurances is mandated to scrutinize the assurances, promises and undertakings given by Ministers and other agents of Government in Parliament from time to time and report on the extent to which those assurances, promises and undertakings, have been implemented.
Two, the GAC takes on the relevant Ministry where there has been delays in implementation and the adequacy of the actions taken. The committee also exercises such other functions that are not covered by the above area as may be allocated to the Committee by the Speaker from time to time.
The Committee report on the extent to which such assurances, promises, undertakings and any other matters related to the foregoing have been implemented, and whether such implementations have taken place within the minimum time necessary for the purpose together with details of effectiveness to ensure value for money.
The whole concept that GAC pursues is service delivery across the Country as promised by Politicians. During elections and as they do their work, politicians and citizens enter into a social contract. The implementation of that social contract is the backbone of a peaceful, Democratic, accountable Government. And it’s this contract that GAC should pursue.
Like I said the other day, I and Honorable Gonzaga Ssewunga plus the Membership we are to get in a few days to come are to put fresh onto the seemingly bare bones of GAC and we pledge that in the first 100 day after it has been fully constituted GAC which is not going to be driven for a show will occupy it’s true position as the public watchdog.
The writer is the MP for Mukono Municipality and new chairperson of GAC
This article is slightly edited
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