KIGALI - A cross section of the Members of Parliament, say that they have registered remarkable progress over the past 17 years.
Speaking to The New Times, members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economy and Trade said that the parliament has done an impressive job despite inadequate resources.
Currently, the House has only six legal drafters used by nine standing committees and one office shared among three or four MPs.
The Chairperson of the committee, Juliana Kantengwa, noted that parliament is still at the stage of amending existing laws before it starts initiating its own laws .
“When the transitional parliament was set up in 1994, there were no laws; MPs had to work tirelessly to see that all necessary laws were put in nplace. Most of the bills have since been coming from the government, however, MPs have also initiated a number of laws,” Kantengwa said.
MP Emmanuel Mudidi, said that; “soon the parliament will graduate to a level where MPs will be initiating bills” .
According to MP Fortunée Nyiramadirida, the reason behind the continuous amendment of bills is to make the existing laws more favourable to the public.
“Sometimes we pass a law but when it comes to implementation, things turn out to be different, that is why we have to amend it.
Also, we live in a dynamic society and our laws have to change depending on the situation on ground,” she said.
Highlighting some of the unique features of the Rwandan Parliament, Kantengwa said that Rwanda is the only African country that uses the local language as a working language.
“We chose to use Kinyarwanda so that we can reach out to each and every Rwandan. Our parliament is currently ranked the best in passing many developmental bills, this is also justified by the rate at which our country is moving on regarding development,” said Kantengwa.
MPs also explained why the parliament has remained understaffed.
According to Mudidi: “We can allocate as much funds as we want to ourselves, but we don’t look at our own comfort alone; there are priorities, there are children out here who need education, people need good health and a better life, so we have to distribute the funds we have depending on the priorities”.
However, Hon. Jean Damascène Gasarabwe stated that there was notable improvement over time.
“During the transitional Parliament, none of us had a car; we could stand at the roadside and wait for a parliamentary shuttle to pick us up.
We didn’t have offices, we were sitting on wooden chairs and we were conducting parliamentary business in a manual and disorganised way,” Gasarabwe said.
“Over time, we managed to gather resources and we currently have the necessary requirements to conduct our work.”