Parliamentary oversight committees and their effectiveness in executing their mandates in Uganda: a case study of Public Accounts Committee (PAC)
Awor, Clare Caroline
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Parliament is the institution that embodies society in the diversity of its composition and its opinions and which relays and channels this diversity in the political process. Its vocation is to regulate tensions and maintain equilibrium between the competing claims of diversity and uniformity, individuality and collectivity, in order to enhance social cohesion and solidarity. Its role is to legislate, inter alia by allocating financial resources, and oversee the action of the Executive. The international consensus recognizes five broad and basic functions to Parliaments, namely policymaking, law making, and oversight of the executive, constituency representation and political recruitment. This study assessed the effectiveness of PAC in executing its oversight mandate in Uganda, used primarily three objectives; to identify the legal mandates of the PAC; to examine the effectiveness of PAC’s power in executing its oversight mandate; to examine the constraints faced by PAC in the process of performing its duties. The study used case study design focusing on Parliament as an institution with a specific attention to PAC. This paper was based primarily on a review of secondary data sources. Thematic and content analyses were used to analyze the data and the major findings of the study based on the study objectives. The findings revealed that the Parliament of Uganda derives its mandate from Chapter 6 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and one of the cardinal functions of Uganda Parliament is oversight over the Executive Branch. Article 79 of Uganda’s Constitution enjoins Parliament to exercise oversight mandate. While Parliaments in developing nations like Uganda approve government budgets and policies, they tend to be weakest at monitoring and evaluating implementation and effectiveness of the same. The Ugandan Parliament and committees appear to be better capacitated to follow up on audits for instance, its oversight committees, particularly PAC appear to have exploited the opportunities to hold the executive accountable to a greater extent. Parliament remains, ultimately, subordinate to the Executive and to the person of the President. To the Ugandan public, this affair make Parliament look weak and ineffective. Constraints faced by PAC included weak position in the political system where PAC is marginalized by the executive and constrained by a constitution which fails to provide for parliamentary independence, often lack institutional capacity and resources and are dependent on the executive for access to resources. The study concluded that Parliament focuses its energy to ensuring that its cardinal function which is oversight over the Executive branch is executed. The study recommends that if oversight is to have a realistic chance of success, government powers must often be countered, or offset, by other powerful forces. There is need to improve institutional capability, that is, the willingness and ability of PAC, along with parliament and legislative auditors to carry out their respective functions by being provided with sufficient resources and training and access to expertise that they may require.