It took alleged grievances and frustrations to dissolve the House Committee of the National Assembly. It took a letter from the Speaker citing the act as a violation of laws to reinstate the House Committee.
The way this issue transpired shows that our lawmakers take decisions to dissolve and reinstate a house committee based on emotions instead of rationale or laws. For in reinstating the committee, they may have again risked breaching the same rules that disallowed them from dissolving the house in the first place.
The rules are clear that if the National Assembly appoints a committee, it is the National Assembly that dissolves one. If the committee does not have the power to dissolve, how is it empowered to reinstate one? When our honourable parliamentarians do not honour the laws they legislate, it is disrespecting the legislature and the electorate who gave them the mandate to represent them in the parliament. This violation of the law and rules followed by denial is anything but honourable. To argue now that it was an issue of semantics makes it theatrical because while the minutes of the meeting list the dissolution and its endorsement, committee members said that this decision was revoked because it was never endorsed.
A question this issue has brought up now is if parliament members are also liable just as a common man for violating laws. It may not because the violation of the National Assembly Act and the rules of procedure (RoP)is a procedural lapse within the Speaker’s domain. The reason is that the Act and the RoP are the rules of the House and not the law of the common people. How the Speaker would address this issue remains to be seen for he has given the committee until August 10 to respond to his letter.
The main issue may be within the domain of the Speaker and the House but it becomes imperative for the National Assembly members to resolve these differences and look at the larger picture. The National Assembly must bring closure to the issue because this impulsive if not irresponsible act has put the credibility of an institution, the land’s highest decision-making body, at stake.
The members must discuss issues they find problematic professionally with the Speaker and the Secretariat. At the same time, concerns raised by the house committee must be respected. Members must also understand that the secretariat works within a budget and that they are civil servants providing a service to the National Assembly. However, if a new parliament member is entitled to vehicle quota as per the laws and rules in place, he or she must not be deprived of it. But the secretariat and the Speaker must not also be lenient if a parliament member claims to be on a constituency visit but isn’t or if members are out shopping when they are supposed to be attending conferences abroad. Faking constituency visits and skipping sessions of meetings while representing the country abroad are unacceptable and deplorable.
The people expect our parliamentarians to do better than this. Our honourable parliament members must start being honourable.