EXPLORING IN-HOUSE INITIATIVES FOR CAPACITY BUILDING IN PARLIAMENTARY BUSINESS AND PROCESSES
EXPLORING IN-HOUSE INITIATIVES FOR CAPACITY BUILDING IN PARLIAMENTARY BUSINESS AND PROCESSES: LESSONS FROM UGANDA INSTITUTE OF PARLIAMENTARY STUDIES ‘Adaption, engagement and evolution of Parliaments in a rapidly changing Commonwealth.’
Hon. Atim Ogwal Cecilia Barbara, MP has
been a Member of Parliament since 1996. She was a delegate in the Constituent Assembly (1993-1995); a former Parliamentary Commissioner (June 2016 -May 2019). She has also been a member and Chairperson of several boards including a Member of the Parliamentary Pension Board.
Uganda is one of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with a robust Constitution that bestows on Parliament the powers to make laws on any matter for the peace, order, development and good governance of Uganda. The Parliament of Uganda is central in enacting appropriate laws, making sure that the Executive arm of the Government is effective, and allocating finances in an optimum manner. Unfortunately, only a few individuals have been able to develop expertise in this area despite the existence of Parliament since 1962. When these roles of Parliament are played effectively, Parliament can contribute to the effective governance elements, namely: state capability, accountability and responsiveness. In practice, however, the Parliament of Uganda like many other Parliaments in developing countries, is faced with capacity challenges which rotate around the following: • inadequate funding available for training; • high work demands that do not allow ample time for training staff and Members of Parliament; • shortage of experienced trainers in the field of Parliamentary Practice and Procedure; • high turnover of Members of Parliament; • highly trained staff
22 | The Parliamentarian | 2019: Issue Three - Uganda
being attracted by other governmental organisations and the private sector; • lack of structured system to facilitate self-sustaining training capacity within Parliament; and • inadequate systems for posttraining follow-up records management for future referrals. Over time, the Parliament of Uganda has been concerned that, despite a lot of resources being sunk into training of both MPs and the staff of Parliament, minimal tangible outputs and actions have been realised. In addition, development partners expressed fear that there were no sustainable institutional mechanisms within the Parliament of Uganda’s structures to lead, initiate, coordinate, guide, monitor and evaluate training and capacity building activities. Arising from the above listed pitfalls, the parliamentary strengthening program/initiatives have been at the centre stage of Commonwealth countries. Following an initiative by all of the political parties at the Parliament of the United Kingdom, to deliver UK democracy assistance in a transparent way and at arm’s length from Government, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) was established in 1992 and today WFD is supporting over 30 countries in developing countries to consolidate democratic institutions.
Between 2008 and 2013, WFD led a partnership including: the UK Parliament, the UK National Audit Office (NAO), the CPA UK Branch and the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which helped establish Parliamentary Study Centres in Lebanon, Uganda and Mozambique. Consequently, in 2011, the Institute of Parliamentary Studies Uganda emerged from this programme. This article provides an in-depth insight into parliamentary institutes as an answer to the puzzle of the incapacity of Legislatures, with specific reference to the Institute of Parliamentary Studies Uganda. Structure of the Institute of Parliamentary Studies Uganda (IPS-U) In terms of the structure, the Parliamentary Commission is the final policy organ of the Institute responsible for policy formulation and strategic guidance. A sevenperson Steering Committee is responsible for overseeing the management of IPS-U and a Secretariat headed by a director is responsible for day-to-day management and running of the IPS-U. A team of trainers who are mainly current and former staff and Members of Parliament comprise the backbone of the institute. This is illustrated in Figure 1 (right).