MPs put cabinet ministers on spotlight for snubbing sittings

MPs put cabinet ministers on spotlight for snubbing sittings

The Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) once again raised concerns over the consistent absence of ministers during parliamentary sittings, leaving crucial questions unanswered and vital issues unaddressed.

John Agany, the former spokesperson of the Parliament, took to the floor of the House to air the frustrations of the lawmakers over the alarming trend where members of the executive snub sitting.

“The absence of ministers has become a persistent problem, leading to significant gaps in addressing pressing matters affecting the country,” Agany said.

 “Most of the time, we expect all ministers to attend sittings, and their names should be distributed to members for accountability,” Agany remarked, highlighting the need for transparency in ministerial attendance.

He emphasised that the non-attendance of ministers, some of whom are also members of parliament, is unacceptable.

He stressed the importance of ministers fulfilling their parliamentary duties, saying: “Failure to do so could result in discontinuation from the assembly, as per regulations.”

The Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Mary Nawai found herself on the receiving end of criticism as the lawmakers sought answers from her over the continued absence of the members of the executive.

Addressing the Parliament, Nawai acknowledged that the issue had become a source of concern and she was doing all she could to address it.

 Nawai stated that she consistently reminded the ministers about their obligation to attend parliamentary sessions and answer questions raised by members.

“Ministers are indeed supposed to attend the sittings because they will be able to listen to the questions that the honourable members will ask,” she remarked. “And I have been repeating myself that whenever I receive an agenda from the clerk, I send it to the forum of the ministers. That is why we get our communications.”

However, she noted with disappointment that despite her efforts, ministers continue to disregard this responsibility.

“But surprisingly, they are not attending. And I think what I will do is to write a memo to present in the cabinet, quoting all the regulations in the conduct of business in regards of the numbers of the sittings that honourable members are supposed to attend the sittings.

“I think that is what I have not done, but I am [still] going to do it,” she added.

She emphasized the necessity of holding ministers accountable and ensuring their presence during sessions to facilitate constructive dialogue and decision-making.

She also underpinned the importance of responding to parliamentary summons promptly, emphasising the need for ministers to prioritize their parliamentary duties.

She affirmed her commitment to upholding parliamentary procedures and facilitating effective communication between the executive and legislative branches of government.

The lawmakers also underscored the significance of ministers fulfilling their parliamentary responsibilities to promote transparency, accountability, and effective governance.

The persistent absence of ministers during parliamentary sittings not only undermines the legislative process but also hinders efforts to address critical issues facing the nation.

The cabinet ministers have also been criticised for skipping parliamentary summons whenever they are called upon to appear before the House and answer queries. When reopening the Parliament earlier in the year, House Speaker Jemma Nunu Kumba put the ministers who defied summonses last year to prepare for grilling.