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Parliament's Continued Sessions Worry Health Ministry

Although there have been several calls for Parliament to lockdown, following confirmation of COVID-19 Cases in Uganda, and President Museveni’s ban on all Public gatherings, the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has maintained that Parliament will meet as infrequently as possible and also ensure to conduct most of the business online
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga chairing the afternoon plenary session.


The Ministry of Health's Permanent Secretary, Diana Atwine has expressed concern over Parliament’s continued sessions in the midst of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.

Although there have been several calls for Parliament to lockdown following confirmation of COVID-19 Cases in Uganda, and President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s ban on all public gatherings, the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has maintained that Parliament will meet as infrequently as possible and also ensure to conduct most of the business online. 

MPs have been divided on the proposal to shutdown and keep Parliament operational Parliament. 

During the vetting of newly appointed officers this week for instance, Parliament vetted the incoming Bank of Uganda (BoU) Deputy Governor Dr. Michael Atingi-Ego electronically.  

However, although Parliament moved to the conference hall as a measure to curb COVID-19, the hall can only accommodate 160 MPs if they are to seat at least one meter each. 

There are a total of 456 Members of Parliament, and in several occasions the MPs mix with each other during and before the sessions. This continued sessions have worried the Permanent Secretary Diana Atwine, who says Parliament is one particular place that is worrying the Ministry of health.  

“One particular place that is worrying us as health is our parliamentary sessions that have continued in face of the lock down. May God protect our legislature. I am deeply worried,” Diana Atwine posted on her social media. 

Atwine was giving important highlights in the fight against COVID-19, where she indicates high risk, medium and low risks areas for one to catch COVID-19. The high risk areas are; public gatherings, open air markets, gyms, shops, hospitals, bars, sports activities, church and bus parks among others.

The medium risk areas are; supermarkets, malls, visiting friends, prisons, board meetings, interview panels among others. The low risk ones are staying home, online interactions, using private cars, gardening and home activities among others.

Hellen Kaweesa, the Deputy Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Parliament says that the position of the speaker has been that the budget is first finalized then a decision can be taken in regards to the COVID-19 and the operations of Parliament. She says Parliament has drastically cut the number of staff, and they are doing their best to be safe.

She says they acknowledge the concerns from the Ministry of Health. ''The Health Ministry can keep on engaging the Clerk to Parliament on how they can continue to be safe, but permanent staff has been scaled down quite a lot, and journalists too. But the main issue keeping Parliament is the budget, and the Speaker will make a pronouncement on this, but for now we are observing all the Ministry of Health guidelines to stop COVID-19," said Kaweesa.

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