MPs fury waits on Achuei, Mayen

MPs fury waits on Achuei, Mayen
A view of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (Photo by Reuters)

The members of parliament sent back two ministers who were summoned last month to present a report on the devastating floods across South Sudan after they showed up with inadequate copies that could not be shared by all the lawmakers.

The MPs argued that, according to the business regulations of Parliament, when a minister is summoned, he or she is supposed to produce enough copies of their written answers that will be provided to MPs to follow while the summoned minister is presenting.

The Minister of Health, Elizabeth Achuei, and her counterpart in Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Peter Mayen Majongdit, failed to table their reports after the lawmakers passed a verdict that they were not prepared with enough copies.

One of the MPs, Victor Omowa, blamed the leadership of the assembly for tolerating ministers’ previous defiance when they failed to appear before Parliament last week. Omowa demanded that the ministers who showed should first apologise to the House for their deliberate absenteeism, which communicated a message of defiance.

Call for discipline

He urged the leadership of the assembly to use Regulations 90 and 91 of the assembly to discipline ministers who do not appear before the parliament when summoned.

Regulation 90 states that any minister who fails to appear or is found guilty of contempt of parliament should be dealt with lawfully. The penalty may sometimes involve impeachment.

“So there is a room for us to discipline our minsters. Let us not leave them. Why should we wait for a minister to give us information? And by the way, when a motion is urgent; it doesn’t need to take one month. This was a mistake by you, the leadership, ” he emphasised, as he addressed the speaker.

“What is the urgency if it is staying for a month? How many people have died?” he questioned.

Another MP, Gatwech Lam Pouch, pointed out Regulation 39 of the Conduct of Business, which requires a minister to provide oral answers to oral questions, but when it is a motion on an important matter, the minister should present a written answer to the written questions based on Regulation 41 and distribute it to MPs.

“Because those were written answers, they should be substantiated with facts and evidence, not to give us oral answers or a lecture when he is coming to respond to that, ” he argued.

‘‘I will conquer with honourable Omowa that this parliament will not be the same. The constitution in Regulation 35 gave us the mandate to summon ministers to come and answer questions. The same thing in article 82 also gives us powers to summon ministers to come and answer questions, and any failure of a minister to come to parliament will be a message to the ministers, that they have to prioritise any parliamentary summons above any other function of the ministry, “Pouch said.

 He added that ‘‘for us to maintain our dignity as members of the parliament from now, we have to sharpen our teeth because the conduct of business has given us that if any minister refuses to come to the parliament based on regulations 117 and 118 read together with article 117, 118 and regulation 89 in the conduct of business, we shall cash a vote of no confidence from any minister this time around.’’

Meanwhile, MP John Sebit Madut urged the ministers to familiarise themselves with the laws, especially the regulations on the conduct of business, on what to do in parliament when presenting their answers.

“It is their role to become familiar with these documents. It is also the responsibility of the leadership of the parliament to write clear messages to the ministers, ” he stated.

Abe Beatrice, another MP, urged the ministers to produce sufficient copies of 550 that will be distributed to the MPs so that they can follow the presentation keenly and make references to it.

“Any oral presentation cannot be followed keenly and how shall we make references to whatever they are going to present? We are not dictionaries; we are going to keep everything in our mind,” she stressed.