Lawmakers are expected to hold their last sessions this month before Parliament is dissolved to pave way for the next parliamentary elections.
The Constitution stipulates that in order to organise elections, the President shall dissolve the Chamber of Deputies at least 30 days and not more than 60 days before expiry of its current members’ term of office.
The parliamentary elections are salted for September 16 and most legislators are already busy canvassing votes for the next campaign.
Deputies and Senators fall under the fourth category of the top politicians.
Deputies get a monthly salary, accommodation allowance, communication allowance, and State contribution for the purchase of a vehicle.
According to Samuel Mulindwa, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Public Service, former MPs continue to withdraw salary for six months, unless they get another job. They are also entitled to communication and transport allowances during that period.
However, when they obtain a job within six months, the monthly allowances are stopped, said Mulindwa.
As the MPs wrap up their five year mandate, observers say they have tackled some of the most sensitive issues in the country, are leaving some burning issues in the pipeline, and have generally made the Parliament more organised and accessible.
Observers said under their mandate, which officially started in October 2008, the legislators revised some old laws and enacted new ones that could improve the country’s governance if well-implemented.
The Executive Secretary of the Rwanda Civil Society Platform, Thaddée Karekezi, says the legislators have enacted laws that brought more light on land use, circumstances in which abortion is allowed, what happens if some people are openly gay or lesbian, and access to information law.
“They have been able to tackle many important things, they did a good job,” he said.
But the activist, whose group is made up of more than 800 member organisations, said the legislators leave behind a legal environment that still criminalises prostitution, doesn’t make it possible for women working in the private sector to get more days off for their maternity leave, and nurtures a parliamentary culture that is more state-driven than community driven.
For Annie Kairaba, the director-general of Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development, the outgoing MPs were able to make awareness on the mandate of their parliamentary committees, inform the citizens on parliamentary business and engaged stakeholders on Bills before the House.
She also commended the current MPs for passing the land use Bill that had been pending since 2004.
Fransisca Tengera, chair of the the National Women Council, believes that resolving land issues have gone a long way in tackling many domestic conflicts.
Legislators speak out
MP Connie Bwiza, a member of the Standing Committee on Budget and National Patrimony, commended her colleagues for improving the country’s business laws over the last five years.
The country is now ranked among the best places to do business in the world as laws regulating company laws on doing business became more friendly.
However, Bwiza regretted that they leave before ensuring the setting up of maternity fund for women.
“It’s an area that still needs advocacy. Our young women bearing children should not be penalised. Adjustments should be done according to realities. Nothing is impossible,” she said.
MP Juvénal Nkusi, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee, will also complete his mandate happy with the country’s business laws.
“Company laws have improved,” he said briefly.
Some six million Rwandans will vote in the next parliamentary polls which will take place from September 16 to September 18 with candidates beginning their campaigns on August 26.