Public welfare tops agenda as MPs resume ordinary sessions

Members of Parliament start ordinary sessions today. Sam Ngendahimana.

Both chambers of Parliament will today start their ordinary sessions.

Among the issues being lined up for discussion include the poor welfare among communities of the historically marginalised as well as oversight on how the government and citizens respect fundamental principles.

During the term, Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente is expected to appear before the Senate to explain why some Rwandans considered to be ‘historically marginalised’ have continued to live in poor conditions.

Senator Consolée Uwimana, who headed a senatorial special committee that conducted an assessment on the group’s welfare last year, said that the Senate has decided to summon the premier in order to find solutions for their problems.

“Most of their challenges are welfare related; some of them have no access to healthcare, some of them don’t have land, and some of them don’t have proper housing,” she said in an interview with The New Times yesterday.

She also added that some of the historically marginalised are exploited based on their ignorance, with some Non-Governmental Organisations grouping them into entities used to make money out of them and other individuals buying their land and other properties on give-away prices.

“There are many challenges we want to bring to the Government’s attention and push for their solutions to be provided,” she said.

The Senate’s work during the term that begins today will also focus on the senators’ ordinary work of monitoring how the Government and citizens respect the fundamental principles that guide the country.

The Constitution requires the Senate to supervise how the principles referred to in its article 10 are respected in the country.

They include the constant quest for solutions through dialogue and consensus, prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide, fighting against denial and revisionism of genocide as well as eradication of genocide ideology and all its manifestations.

Eradication of discrimination and divisionism based on ethnicity, region or on any other ground as well as promotion of national unity are also part of the principles, along with equitable power sharing, building a State governed by the rule of law, a pluralistic democratic government, and the equality of all Rwandans and between men and women.

Building a State committed to promoting social welfare and establishing appropriate mechanisms for equal opportunity to social justice is one of the fundamental principles on which Rwanda is built according to the country’s Constitution.

As for the Chamber of Deputies, it will as well kick off its first ordinary term today and MPs in the lower house are expected to enact different laws and conduct activities to oversee government programmes in the next two months of the term.

Among other activities during the term, the deputies are expected to approve the Government’s proposal to increase the budget for the current 2018/2019 fiscal year by Rwf141 billion.

They are also expected to pass a number of financing agreements for different government projects, enact new laws, oversee government activities, and summon different government officials to explain what is happening in the delivery of different programmes.

MP Jean-Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, chairperson of the Lower House’s Public Accounts Committee, said that most legislators are ready to fulfil their responsibilities in line with their work of enacting laws and keeping an eye on government works.

“We are ready for this session’s work; enacting laws and continuing oversight of government. We will be able to work on whatever bills will be urgent and all we require is that we receive urgent bills on time so we can have enough time to scrutinise them,” he said in an interview yesterday.

MP Frank Habineza said that he was equally excited to start the first ordinary session, also hinting that he might introduce new draft laws.

“We shall now resume normal parliamentary business and be able to deliver on what is expected of us. I hope to get the opportunity to introduce different private members bills this year,” he said in an interview yesterday.

Sessions to kick off ordinary terms in both chambers of Parliament will be held today in the afternoon and legislators are expected to collectively agree on what will be on their agenda during the terms.