Speakers and Presiding officers have been tasked to ensure they uphold the independence of their legislatures against interference from other organs of state.
Addressing the 23rd conference of speakers and presiding officers of the Commonwealth in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, the Speaker of Parliament Rt.Hon. Rebecca Kadaga noted that the operation of Legislative bodies in most of the Commonwealth countries have been suffering due to the interference by the judicial process.
“The organs of the State are different and have independent specified functions. It is within the power of the Legislature to exercise all functions conferred on it. There are functions conferred on the Judiciary and the Executive by the Constitution which they are expected to perform in accordance with the Constitution,’’ Rt.Hon. Kadaga said.
Kadaga who was contributing to a Keynote address on Parliamentary privilege by the Speaker of the National Assembly of Zambia, Justice Dr. Patrick Matibini reaffirmed that the effective functioning of democracies depends heavily on the duty of the Speakers to remind Members of the Powers and Privileges that govern them.
The Speaker of the Rwanda National Assembly, Rt. Hon. Donatille Mukabalisa re-echoed the need for Parliament to exercise its mandate in totality without the fear of interference from political parties and the Executive.
Conference participants resolved to help Members of Parliament participate in plenary debates without fear of being sued or prosecuted.
Speakers however, cautioned that even with Parliamentary privilege in place, it is also a duty of the Members not to misuse it but protect the general interest of nation and public.