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Mutonyi: MPs must develop their areas

Rose Mutonyi

ROSE MUTONYI MASABA is the MP for Bubulo West in Manafwa district. She is also the chairperson of the parliamentary committee on Foreign Affairs. She revealed to Josephine Namuloki her plans for parliament and for the constituency.

Why did you join politics?

I wanted to get out of public service. I wanted also to uplift myself because in education we say we start with the physical needs of eating, dressing and then you finally get to self-esteem. Later on you seek self-actualization where you reach and say, ‘okay, at least I have attained this.’

So, that is one thing that pushed me to contest and become a member of parliament. I also wanted to help my people and be able to move freely without suspicion. Our people need leaders to be sensitized towards their needs and I think I am trying.

Many women fear to compete with men for direct representation at the constituency. Where do you get all that courage?

At first, I feared but my people encouraged me. Maybe they saw that virtue of strength, ambition, [and] courage but it’s people who see these virtues of talent in you and support you. Having been a teacher, we also go through a lot of training and we develop a sense of initiative, creativity and courage.

When you went for nominations, you said one term was not enough for you to accomplish your projects. What haven’t you done?

One term was not enough because I started with establishing a bursary scheme for students in institutions like Makerere [University] and others. I started that bursary by giving students who were selected by the leaders in the sub-counties Shs 200, 000 per semester and I had pledged that I would see them through their courses.

What criteria do you use for selecting the beneficiaries?

Originally, I did not know people in the sub-counties; so, I called the meeting of councilors at the district, chairpersons of LC-III and we sat together to forge the way forward.

I wanted one student per sub-county but I was advised by the chairpersons of the sub-counties that if one student got a million shillings and he or she failed somewhere in the middle, we would lose a lot. So, I was advised that, that one million should be shared among the five students in the sub-county.

You have been in parliament for less than three years. How did you win the NRM trust to make you a chairperson of Foreign Affairs committee?

During the last two years that I was in parliament [after winning a by-election in 2013], new as I was, my committee appreciated me when it came to timekeeping.

Even the chairperson would find me in every meeting of the committee. Perhaps these reports reached the current chief whip and the speaker. I feel my timekeeping and participation earned me this slot in the committee where you can talk and talk and people appreciate your contribution.

You are strict. Won’t some MPs defy you?

Laughs…..No I don’t think I am over-strict. I talk and laugh. But you will talk to my members and find out if I am too strict. But if we don’t put up some measures, we may not even have any members attending committee meetings.

Surely, why should I give you a trip when you are an absentee member? What are you going to do since you don’t know even what to do there? Yeah, I talk but I am a mother and they will tell you that I am not as strict.

But how ready are you to tackle the defiance of MPs in case it arises?

Even in parliament, they make sure that we record our presence by registering but members have a lot of commitments. For example, there are members who are in my committee and they belong to other committees. But the attendance is good so far, the least number we have got is 17 out of 21.

That is the least; so, members are attending. You don’t have to force them but you talk to them; if you don’t, then nobody will come. There will be no defiance because they know why they came to parliament.

You seem to be busy as a committee chairperson. You regularly travel abroad. How will you attend to your voters in the constituency?

When I go out, I gain more experience and I bring back the experiences I have got there. My constituency would like to see me go out and they feel very happy and excited that their MP has flown out provided I return and I go back to them and talk to them and I also carry for them what I have carried so they feel happy.

What are some of the challenges affecting the people of Bubulo West?

One of the challenges is poverty. If you moved to our constituency, people have very small plots of land. Even if you really worked hard, there is no way you can create miracles [wealth]. If you find one who has maybe four hectares of land, that one is very rich. In my area many people do with one meal a day.

So, poverty is high and as a member of parliament, I want to see that they get into groups and we try to see what we can do for them. I tried in the last agricultural season to buy seeds and implements to see if I can help them.

Another problem is that because they are poor, they are unable to send their children to school but there is also negligence because some people don’t know their priorities. Some people don’t know the value of education and that is my song whenever I go to the villages. Whenever I have a forum to meet the voters, I tell them about education. So, because of poverty, the standard of living is poor.

What are some of the national issues you would want to be handled by the 10th parliament?

There must be a law to stop people from making this sachet waragi. If it is bottled, those boys cannot afford and it may not be so rampant in the villages. But also we need the marriage and divorce bill to be passed.

We need to protect the women and if we don’t pass it, this country is not going anywhere. Too much goes on and it leaves our women as underprivileged, harassed, molested and so on.

Briefly, what business has your committee lined up for this year?

Well, we are going to meet different ministries whose affairs are foreign in nature for example ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. We have a problem of labour export. Things are wrong because our children who are taken to those outside countries are molested, beaten and many of them are harassed sexually.

So, we want to know what the ministry of gender has in place to curb that kind of situation. We need to meet the finance ministry because finance is not looking after foreign affairs well. They have a budget which is cut according to what finance wants.

This post was syndicated from Breaking and latest news, analysis, comments, business, lifestyle, entertainment and sports from Uganda. Click here to read the full text on the original website.

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