Deputy Speaker Tayebwa cautions MPs on decorum, dressing code

Man Jose Kayima

The Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa has cautioned legislators against character assassination, violation of rules of the House and urged them to legislate with decorum and dignity for each other.

To avoid disruptions and ensure smooth operations in the House, the Deputy Speaker issued new changes and cited two very critical rules that must be followed by all members at all times and cautioned legislators against misconduct and attacking each other.

“It is out of order to use offensive , abusive, insulting, blasphemous or unbecoming words or to impute improper motives to a member or to make personal allusions,” the Deputy Speaker told members as he read out the rules of procedure verbatim.

“I know as colleagues you have a duty to deliver to your constituency but as the custodian of the rules, I have a duty to protect the dignity of this house and I will ensure that is done but I request you honorable colleagues that indeed we accommodate each other because it’s in parliament where we can accommodate each other. I will give you time to speak. I will give as long as your content is in line with the rules.”

He added: “I will give you time to bring your issues here because it’s provided for but I will request you to accommodate each other. The day you stop accommodating each other as a house, we shall have lost it. I want to thank you colleagues.”

Under 83, the Deputy Speaker announced that during a sitting (a) a member shall enter or leave the house with a decorum. (b) A member shall not cross the flow of the house or move around unnecessarily. (c) While a member is speaking, all other members shall be silent or make unseemly interruptions. (d) When a member has finished his or her observation, he or she shall resume his or her seat. (e) A maiden speech shall not be interrupted. (f) A member shall not without the consent of the speaker bring into the house anything other than papers, books or other documents which are directly connected with the business of the house. (g) A member shall not bring in to the house any camera, arms or weapon, tape recorder, transistor radio and (h) A member shall not clap in the house.

Under Rule 83 (2), the Deputy Speaker informed members that notwithstanding paragraph (g), a member may bring in specific electronic devices that can not disrupt the preceding of the house and also the security test of parliament.

New guidelines

In his communication from the chair, Mr Tayebwa as the custodian of the House rules of procedure , also banned impromptu reaction to the Speaker’s communication to the chair and asked the lawmakers to adhere to the official dressing code.

“I want us to enforce the rules properly including dressing code. So dressing code which is clearly provided for under rule 82 of our rules of procedure will be because under African wear is where we have had an abuse. I will no longer allow shirts in the house and because this is a place of dignity and suits,” the Deputy Speaker said.

“I want us to apply properly what is defined as African shirts some are bought in Europe, they are not even African and this rule is also applying to committees. It has been brought to my attention that members walk in committees in jeans in sneakers in converse in flats, some are about to enter in shorts and also for the women, kindly try to be as decent as possible.”

He added: “With effect from today [October 18 2023] and onwards, if a member for example has an injury, and he or she approaches the speaker in time, and he or she explains him or herself, we can have an exception and we understand the member is injured he cannot put on the suit.”

In order to bring order to the House, the Deputy Speaker also banned lawmakers approaching the speaker’s chair during plenary sessions. This is intended to avoid disrupting Speaker’s attention in the House.

“I want to repeat this. No more walking over to the speaker except for three people. Number one, the leader of government business and also it doesn’t mean that we do it all the time, the leader of government business, the leader of opposition and the government chief whip and any other person whom the speaker, presiding officer can invite for consultation but you will be approaching the chair through chits,” the Deputy Speaker Tayebwa ruled.

He added: “I have seen flexibility is never rewarded and you have proved that to me from all sides. Of course I will remain steadfast and I can assure you of this am a very patient character and I will continue being patient…. I want us to apply the rules here the way they are the rules I will be applying are rules which honorable colleagues you make and I must implement including when I make a ruling it will be final. If you want to challenge my ruling, the rules give you a leeway of challenging it.”

Terror attacks

Meanwhile the House observed a moment of silence in memory of the two tourists and a Ugandan guide who were killed by suspected ADF rebels in Queen Elizabeth on Tuesday evening. The victims and their guide according to Deputy Speaker, were attacked in Kasese around Katwe. The Deputy Speaker described the tragedy as “a very sad moment especially for the country’s tourism sector which was recovering after being hit so much by COVID-19.”

“People want to come and see the marvel of our beauty as a country so all of a sudden this tragedy happened.”

“I know it will affect the tourism sector but government indeed we need to come up and assure our people on the safety of our visitors in the country and we shall give all the necessary support as a house and we do hope that indeed with this incident we don’t as a country lose focus and declare even ourselves as if we are extremely insecure,” Mr Tayebwa told parliament.

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