In a strange twist of fate, Speaker Richard Msowoya was yesterday summoned to appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to explain how committee meetings and funding are prioritised at Parliament.
His summons followed an earlier appearance by the National Assembly controlling officer, Clerk of Parliament Fiona Kalemba, during which she made a commitment to prioritise committees with oversight functions when allocating funding in the next financial year.
There have been complaints from constitutional committees such as Budget and Finance, Legal Affairs and Public Accounts which have failed to meet recently.
PAC chairperson Alekeni Menyani and the Speaker himself confirmed that he would appear before the committee.
“It is about the workload of the Public Accounts Committee and the time allocated to them in the budget. It’s not that I stole some money,” Msowoya said.
He added that the summons was merely a way to sort out in-house issues and the committee had the mandate to summon his office anytime they so wished and make inquiries on funding relating to the National Assembly.
Menyani, on the other hand, said his committee was frustrated that while Treasury funds committee meetings, prioritisation is lacking.
“The Speaker as head of the Parliamentary Service Committee has to show commitment to committees to carry out oversight functions. It’s clear that Treasury funds us but it’s up to the National Assembly to prioritise.
“The Speaker and Clerk of Parliament must understand that the work of the committee is not determined by us but the backlog of audits of the Auditor General,” he said.
Recently, the Executive accused the Legislature of exhausting its budget by allegedly prioritising foreign travel at the expense of committee meetings. However, Parliament dismissed the accusations as false. n