Tuesday, November 23, 2010

(Dis) order in the House

"Did We Drop The Constitution?"
The Prime Minister is back. The house is in session. But all is not well in the National Assembly. Seven Bills were introduced in yesterday's session - with the opposition protesting the introduction of one particular bill, namely the Public Finance Act (amendment) Bill, on the grounds that the introduction of the bill was too entrenched with the constitutional case, as the two were interlinked - and keeping in mind the possibility of an appeal to the Supreme Court. The other reason stated by the opposition was the stand that the bill was already in line with the present constitution, thus rendering its discussion redundant in the present session.

Members of the government, in their response, cited the acceptance of the many bills that had been prepared for discussion in the session, and that the opposition's stand, would be rendering, in effect, all such bills warranting attention and urgency, void. The argument was whether the whole session should suffer on account of the court's ruling and the opposition's insistence that it should.

The speaker's clarification was simple - accept bills that were voted in by a majority for discussion and leave out the rest. It is clear that discussions bordering on the vicissitudes of the court’s ruling was not the appropriate theme, hence discouraging the discussion of the verdict in the house and signaling focus on matters more workable and non-speculative was the cue.

The hangover from the court’s ruling is apparent. There is a sense of misplaced victory in some of the populace if online indicators are to be judged, with a sense of victory that is misleading. Cheering from the rooftops and hailing the opposition as the ‘hero’ is as ill tempered as painting the government as nothing but a bunch of non-constitutionalists out to trample the hopes and aspirations of the people that elected them.

The opposition has brought to the fore a monumental mark – that of the role it has been endowed with, playing the watchdog and playing it to perfection in this particular stance. Kudos must be accorded to the two-member opposition for displaying an acute sense of awareness and action, backed up by perseverance and resolve, which ultimately led to the country’s first constitutional case going to the court and vindication, rightly adjudged.

We all know the outcome, and having read reports that paint a grim picture of things to come, we hope that the government will take into account the bigger frame and not miss the forests for the trees. They came into power with an overwhelming majority, in no small measure, to the fact that their conviction to do ‘good’ was better demonstrated. We now hope that such a trait of character will be displayed once again in the on going session, in truth and its sometimes- painful manifestation.

Order in the house is the call of the day. They owe it to the people of the country, who, let us not forget, helped built the house.


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