Bunyoro PWDs’ leaders decry gaps in regional parliamentary representation

Mr William Mwambu, the Masindi district male councillor for Persons With Disabilities.

Leaders of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) from Bunyoro sub-region are pushing for an amendment of the Parliamentary Elections Act to allow each region elect its Member of Parliament for PWDs like it used to be.

The 10th Parliament amended the Parliamentary Elections Act replacing the election of regional MPs for PWDs with electing the best five candidates regardless of their geographical residence.

Speaking during an engagement to disseminate the Braille copy of the parliamentary performance scorecard for the 10th Parliament to the visually impaired people from Bunyoro region at Masindi district council chambers, Mr William Mwambu, the Masindi district male councillor for PWDs said the new Parliamentary Elections Act is unfair and discriminating against PWDs.

During the engagement organised by Uganda National Association of the Blind (UNAB) and the African Leadership Institute, a nongovernmental organisation charged with producing the parliamentary performance scorecard, Mr Mwambu said that because of the Act, all the five MPs who were recently elected to represent PWDs to the 11th Parliament did not come from the western region.

He explained that of the five slots for PWDs in Parliament with one reserved for a national woman MP, the other four slots are left open without specifically considering regional balance.

The politician revealed that it was unfortunate that two slots were taken the central region save for the two that were taken by northern and eastern regions leaving the western region without any representation.

Mr Mwambu wants the election of MPs for PWDs to be like for other special interest groups like the youth, women and others that elect regional representatives to ensure fair representation.

He appealed to the African Leadership Institute and UNAB to lobby parliament so that the Act can be amended to allow each region to vote for its own MP.

Audio: Mwambu on PWDs (Runyoro/Rutooro)

Ms Agnes Agio, the chairperson of Kiryandongo District Association for the Blind said the current format of voting MPs for PWDs will lead to marginalisation of some regions since the people elected will not mind about the areas from where they do not come.

Audio: Agio on PWDs (English)

Mr Joram Kabakumba, the chairperson Buliisa District Association for the Blind who is also the western region representative to the UNAB Board said that it is hard for PWDs to demand accountability from MPs who do not come from their regions.

Responding to the leaders’ concerns, Mr Charles Byekwaso, the Programme Manager Braille Text Project at UNAB appreciated the leaders describing their input as genuine.

However, he advised them to come up with a write-up and forward it to the relevant offices including the Speaker of Parliament for action.

Audio: Byekwaso on PWDs (English)

Presenting Braille copies of the parliamentary scorecards to the leaders of the visually impaired, Mr Joshua Mutegeki, from African Leadership Institute told the participants that the scorecard enables the voters to know how their MPs performed in their cardinal duties of legislation, representation, accountability and oversight.

Handing out the copies, Mr Byekwaso said the Braille copy of the parliamentary performance scorecard is in line with UNAB’s efforts of promoting social inclusion for the PWDs in the country.

He said the Braille copy will enable the visually impaired people to understand how their MPs performed in the 10th parliament.  

Participants were drawn from Hoima, Buliisa, Kiryandongo and Masindi districts.  

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