Speakers and Presiding Officers from the Commonwealth parliaments in the Africa Region have applauded Speaker Kadaga for protecting the independence of the Legislature from any external interference.
Citing the recent court ruling on the four Members of Parliament in Uganda, they said this was a milestone and reference point for other Speakers.
Speaking during the opening of the four-days 15th Speakers and Presiding Officers bi-Annual Conference currently taking place in Accra, Ghana, the Deputy Senate President and Speaker of the Ecowas Parliament, Rt. Hon. Ike Ekweremadu, called upon the Speakers to resist pressures from external forces, saying this will enable them to redeem the institution’s image and gain independence because they are the servants of the people who need meaningful democracy.
Ekeweremadu added that the seats of presiding officers are precarious and endangered.
“Speakers and presiding officers are expected to provide leadership that will enable the legislatures to check executive excesses and ensure effective and equitable appropriation of resources, promote probity and good governance. Ironically, the same speakers and presiding officers often have powerful external forces and influences to contend with in the running of the legislature. This includes executive excesses and interference, meddlesomeness by overbearing party leadership and internal parliamentary politics,” he said.
“Managing public expectations, which ultimately affect public trust and confidence in the legislature can be challenging especially in an emerging democracy as we have in Africa,” he concluded.
The Speaker of the National Assembly of Kenya, Rt. Hon. Justin Bedan Njoka Muturi said that Kadaga had set a standard and model in handling parliamentary business; but also a precedent, which will encourage MPs to speak freely about the running of their parties without fear of being thrown out of the House.
In his keynote address, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, the President of Ghana emphasized the need for more collaboration between the legislature, executive and all other stakeholders including the parties on the African continent.
He called on the parliamentarians to work hard in order to redeem the image of the parliaments in the public.
The Speakers and Presiding Officers Conference is a bi-annual event that brings together nineteen Speakers from the Commonwealth Conference of Africa; Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa , Swaziland, Tanzania ,Uganda and Zambia.
Issues such as sharing country perspectives on enforcing ethical codes of conduct in Parliament, the role of Speakers in defending the independence of Parliament among others will be discussed in the forum.