MPs raise alarm on operation of legislature

MPs raise alarm on operation of legislature
Juma Zachariah, Member of Parliament representing Western Bhar-El-Ghazal at TNLA on the ticket of SPLM-IO. [Photo: Keji Janefer, City Review]

Opposition lawmakers in the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly have expressed dissatisfaction with how business is being conducted in the chamber.

While addressing the media at freedom Hall, the legislatures said that house business is not functioning as it should be.

These concerns are being raised just two months before the house celebrates its first anniversary since its inception on August 30, 2021.

“As parliamentarians, we did not do anything because we are just waiting for the cabinet to bring their laws so that we amend and pass it but the parliament should be serious about what is happening in the country,” said Juma Zachariah, the Western Bhar el-Ghazal State MP.

Zachariah said the parliament’s operation had changed since the announcement of the chairpersons of the specialized committees and the ABC.

“People are killing themselves around South Sudan in Unity State, Eastern Equatoria and the leadership is keeping quiet. We are like we don’t know what is happening because before announcing the leadership of chairpersons, the parliament was taking issues seriously.

“Everything, even parliament procedures, should go via the ABC. There are some in producing point of information in the code of conduct,” he said.

The bickering came amidst reports that TNLA speaker, Jemma Nunu Kumba, has prohibited MPs from raising points of information during proceedings and advised them to put any material in writing and submit it to the clerk for permission so that the house can debate it.

“In the beginning, it was allowed but they discovered it is a threat, so they want to keep the members silent. We did not just come and deliberate about the bill,” added Zachariah.

Despite political calm reached after the signing of the 2018 Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan –RARCRSS – inter-communal fighting is still being experienced in some sections of the country.

Zachariah blamed the instability in Magwi County, Leer, Abyei, and other regions of the country on what he called a failure of leadership in the parliament.

He said the legislature was supposed to ensure that the executive plays its role so that security is provided in all parts of the country.

On April 11, 2022, one MP walked out of the Assembly after he was denied an audience to present a report touching on insecurity.

The same day, a section of activists were arrested after petitioning MPs on the situation in Leer. Some MPs later joined in the demonstration.

However, Zachariah stated they have filed about five motions for deliberation, including the procedure of the parliament, to which he said he has not yet been granted permission by the leadership.

“There is a lot of mess in the parliament so we put it in motion so that we can deliberate on it.”

Meanwhile, another opposition MP from Cuiebet, Juol Nhomngek Daniel, criticized the national broadcaster for failure to broadcast live proceedings of the house.

Nhomngek, like his colleague, said the parliament was not doing enough to address issues affecting citizens.

We don’t need to cheat the public. We are using the resources of the public.”

“The public does not know what is happening in the house because the national broadcaster is not even made open to cover the sitting.

Edmund Yakani, the Executive Director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) called for expanded space for freedom of expression.