The parliament is working on a organic bill that will enable the House to exercise the duty of government oversight properly.
The organic bill tabled on Monday October 18, 2021 was proposed by MPs Edda Mukabagwiza, Valens Muhakwa, Omar Munyaneza, Germaine Mukablisa and Euthalie Nyirabega as the first bill to come from MPs this year.
For the last 15 years, the parliament is exercising its oversight duties under the Organic Law N° 03/2005 of 25/02/2005 through five ways: oral questions, written questions, hearings before parliament committees, commissions of inquiry and interpellation.
However, in the 121 pages bill proposal, MPs said that this process has been half hazard productive and needs to be revised considering various aspects that have changed in governance and structures in general.
The Lead MP on this proposal, MP Mukabagwiza said that there are sufficient grounds for revising the law, most notably the need to bring it into line with the Constitution and to address other loopholes.
“The materialization of such an intended goal will pave the way for adequate oversight of Government programmes and improved management of public affairs,” Mukabagwiza said.
The proposal showed that the methods the Parliament uses to obtain information and to exercise oversight of Government action need to be improved to vest more power than just oversight.
For example, the new bill proposes administrative and criminal penalties for failure to implement the House’s recommendations.
For instance, the proposal said that the Standing Committees constitutes the linchpin of preparation of Parliament’s core work, but the committee has no power to engage in the performance of the function of information gathering on oversight of Government action.
The bill also showed that at no point does the current law mention modalities for the development of a plan for information gathering on and oversight of Government action, whether annual, quarterly, monthly or weekly.
To a shocking level, the current law provides for the procedures followed by a Member of Parliament to initiate, as an individual, the process of information gathering on and oversight of Government action, but remains silent on modalities for such an initiation, criteria for drafting a question to put to a member of Government and grounds for inadmissibility of a question.
The bill also showed that the law does not provide for modalities for the conduct by Parliament of preventive oversight.
It has no clear distinction between methods provided under the Constitution that are used for information gathering on Government action and those used for oversight of Government action.
On the methods the Parliament uses to obtain information and exercises oversight of government action, the new bill proposed an MP or group of MPs (Deputies or Senate) may initiate the process of information gathering on and oversight of government action.
“In so doing, they play a preventive role and make it possible to resolve identified problems. It is even more significant that this enables Parliament to find out more about strategies put in place by the Government out of the desire to address and resolve existing problems,” MP Mukabagwiza said.
The bill proposed that Standing Committees should be used as a basis for activities related to information gathering on and oversight of Government action and develop activity plans to be subject to oversight (on an annual, quarterly, monthly and weekly basis) and conduct preventive oversight.
MPs welcomed the bill approving a repeal of the current organic law but proposed more specific areas of the oversight especially in monitoring and penalties levied on organs.
Christine Mukabunani asked for tight penalties on organ level of government institutions which fail to implement recommendations of the parliament.
Diogene Bitunguramye cautioned on penalties causing conflict of interest between the lawmakers and the judiciary when it comes to evidence and witness needed in a case yet the MPs have to testify while they have full immunity.