Can independent MPs influence parliamentary business?

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The rise of independent members of parliament appears to have put political parties on the back foot.

Many of these MPs, like Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, appeal to supporters of various political organisations, yet it is their individual character and in some cases, charisma, that appears to have endeared them to the voters.

Yet how influential can they be in changing the political dynamics in the country especially using Parliament as a platform?

Independent members of parliament represent 14% of all 426 MPs.

In numbers, they are second to NRM, thus more than all opposition MPs combined.

Most of these are MPs that lost flag bearer seats in the political parties they are affiliated to.

Given the rough and tumble of our politics, questions have been raised as to what extent independent MPs can influence the political agenda.

Most of the ideologies especially bills that have been welcomed and adopted by MPs, have been adopted through their different political parties they belong.

Gen Elly Tumwine, the member of parliament representing the UPDF argued that even when independents are not affiliated to any political party, they can be in position to move motions that can be supported by the political parties.

“An independent MP can bring a motion, defend it, and the majority vote to support it”, Tumwine said.

Elijah Okupa, the Kasilo MP shared the same sentiments with Tumwine.

Okupa said that in independents can shape politics in the country through their specific committees.

“Like the current chair of Legal and Parliamentary affairs committee, Oboth Oboth, he will influence the age limit motion. In that way, they are able to influence politics here”, Okupa said.

Some independent MPs have been seen to support of motions brought about by MPs from either NRM or opposition parties.

The age limit bill is one of those, that saw independent MPs take sides.

Dokolo South MP, Okot Ogong Felix subscribes to a school of thought that independent MPs do not exist at all.

It is rather a group of MPs that are an extension of some political parties.

“There are independents who are leaning to parties and even attend their caucuses, meaning when they are not independent“, Okot adds.

Mityana North MP, Godfrey Kiwanda argues that independents can only do much since they don’t have a common manifesto to follow meaning they’ll be swayed.

"When you are independent, you have to have an independent manifesto. These independents are even independent from each other, it only works on who talks to them well”, Kiwanda argued.

In parliament, the number of independent MPs increases every after 5 years.

However, these independents normally have partisan leanings and exhibit high levels of partisan loyalty.

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