Role Of Government Chief Whip Questioned

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In short
During recent debates, some legislators such as Dokolo Woman MP, Cecilia Atim Ogwal questioned the absence of ministers from the House, which forces Nankabirwa to take up their roles.

The role of the Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa has come under  scrutiny from several legislators in the past few weeks. 
Rule 14 of Parliament's Rules of Procedure provides for a whip appointed by government from the ruling party. The role of the Chief Whip is to ensure due attendance, participation in proceedings and voting in Parliament by legislators from her party, in this case the ruling National Resistance Movement-NRM party. 

Other duties include organizing party business and keeping members informed of party business, among others.  However, Nankabirwa has come under scrutiny from some legislators for deviating from her designated roles to handle government business.  The Prime Minister is the leader of the government business in parliament.  
During recent debates, some legislators such as Dokolo Woman MP, Cecilia Atim Ogwal questioned the absence of ministers from the House, which forces Nankabirwa to take up their roles. Guma Gumisiriza, Ibanda North MP, notes that Nankabirwa responds to issues raised by MPs, which is not part of her mandate. 
He notes that unlike Ministers, the government whip often doesn't have satisfactory information on the issues raised. 

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During a recent plenary sitting at, Opposition Chief Whip, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda questioned why Nankabirwa sits in for ministers.
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Santa Alum, the UPC whip in Parliament and Apac Woman MP, shares the same sentiments. She asks the government whip to stick to her role as defined in the rules of parliament other than attempt to usurp the duties of the leader of government business.

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However, Nankabirwa defends herself, saying her roles do not only stop at whipping members, saying she can delegated by the Leader of Government Business or his deputies to represent them in the House.

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Nankabirwa says while a number of ministers have been dodging plenary sittings, some of them are away from parliament on official business

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However, Gumisiriza dismisses her explanation. He cites the reign of Prof. Apolo Nsibambi as prime Minister, from April 1999 to May 2011 who ensured that all ministries were represented in Parliament at all times.

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Wilfred Niwagaba, the Ndorwa East MP, notes that unlike her predecessors Daudi Migereko, Kabakumba Matsiko and Justine Lumumba, Nankabirwa has more roles since her appointment in March 2015.

Niwagaba however says these extra roles have not stopped cabinet ministers from deviating from their duty to attend to government business.

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About the author

Olive Eyotaru
Olive Eyotaru is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Eyotaru has been a URN staff member since February 2015.

Eyotaru started practising journalism while still studying at Uganda Christian University. She was a reporter with Ultimate Media Consult Ltd between 2005 and 2007.

In 2009, Eyotaru joined Monitor Publications Limited, under KFM Radio as a parliamentary and business reporter. Consequently, Eyotaru started writing for the Daily Monitor newspaper until January 2015, when she moved to URN.

She is interested in reporting about politics, health, human rights, business and sports.