Parliament adopts motion on moral decay

Uganda's parliamentary debate in progress.

Parliament has unanimously passed a motion for a resolution of parliament to highlight the decline in ethical and moral values in the country and propose solutions for reversing the decadence.

The motion was tabled by the Bufumbira County East Member of Parliament who is former Ethics and Integrity Minister, Dr James Nsaba Buturo.

Dr Buturo argued that the decline of moral and ethical values in the country has led to unpleasant outcomes such as an increase in unchecked theft of public funds, inability to apprehend and punish lawbreakers, disregard of the law, disrespect of authority, and practices such as abortion, homosexuality and prostitution.

While moving his motion during plenary presided over by Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, the Bufumbira East Member of Parliament, noted that there is need for the citizenry to uphold the national moral and value framework which “espouses common moral and ethical values that we are obliged to respect and be guided by”.

He also asked parliament to urge the government to introduce universal moral education where knowledge of how to care, live with nature, share and be human will become an integral part of people’s lives.

“Without doubt, immorality is assertively eroding our ethical and moral values and this is endangering the fabric of our society. This is taking place at a frighteningly relentless pace. The values in question are no longer carrying the tag of admiration and reward as they have done before,” Dr Buturo said in justifying his motion.

Although the motion was overwhelmingly welcomed, the MPs decided to scale down the debate to corruption and teenage pregnancies.

They said corruption is a vice that is fast running down public resources in the country while teenage pregnancies have been seen as the main outcome of the nearly two years of the closure of schools due to Covid-19.

The debate on corruption was sparked by Tororo District Woman MP, Ms Sarah Opendi, who in what looked like an accusatory finger at the Executive arm of Government in which she was a member until June 2021, argued that corrupt ministers are not sacked but are instead transferred to other ministries.

“The President knows the corrupt officials but he just keeps shifting them from one sector to another. When it comes to corruption, don’t only target civil servants but also look at the political leaders,” she said.

Ms Opendi had earlier noted that Uganda ranks 142 out of 180 countries that have failed to manage corruption.

The MP, who seconded the motion, did not mention any names, though her remarks come barely a week after President Yoweri Museveni Tibuhaburwa threatened to name corrupt Ministers.

Ugandans took to social media to argue that the President should not only name and shame the corrupt ministers but also fire them.

Debating on the motion, the Dokolo District Woman MP, Ms Cecilia Ogwal, accused Parliament of not first going into public repentance because the legislators cannot be left out when corruption is being sounded in Uganda.

Ms Ogwal, 75, and the 1969 Miss Uganda beauty pageant winner aged 23 then warned that MPs should be the ones to condemn corruption as one of the cancers eating up the moral fabric of the nation when they have been taking bribes to make crucial decisions.

“By the time this motion was brought, we would have repented as Parliament. Jesus said ‘let that who has not done it throw the first stone’. When a sensitive debate comes up in this House, brown envelopes exchange hands. Who has not got a brown envelope here?” she asked. 

MPs have been accused by their colleagues especially in the opposition that whenever a controversial Bill is being debated, those who subscribe to the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) receive upfront payment before voting.

Although the amount of money paid to each of the 317 MPs who voted in favour of amending the Constitution to remove the presidential age limit in December 2017 is not known, it has been public knowledge that they received heavy bundles of cash before and after passing the Private Member’s Bill.

Ms Ogwal’s views informed the mind of Bugiri Municipality MP, Mr Asuman Basalirwa, who opposed the entire motion because it sounded out as a talk on listing the criminality in the country, which is a role of the police.

Speaking after adoption of the motion, the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Jacob Oulanyah, said such discussions on morals must continue for a better society.

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