Thursday, August 23, 2012
THE WHIP SYSTEM IN UGANDA PARLIAMENT
Source: The Office of Clerk to Parliament The Whip system is a mechanism designed to operate as an instrument of enforcing compliance by party members to the values and policies of a political party and ensuring that they participate actively in the legislative process, especially when party interests are at stake. BACKGROUND The Whip system originates from the British Parliament. This practice was derived by British politicians from the phrase ‘whipper-in’ which was used with reference to an assistant to a hunter who was responsible for keeping animals from wandering off the hunting ground by forcing them back with the whip into the main flock. It was eventually introduced to mainstream British Parliamentary language in the 1772 Annual Parliamentary Register and later formalized as an official title in the British Parliamentary politics. This practice would later be exported and adopted throughout the British Commonwealth countries. PARTY WHIPS Party Whips are officials in a political party whose primary role is to ensure party discipline in the legislature. Whips as party officials do this by employing a combination of both enticements and threats (by virtue of powers they have to second members to Committees and other non-formal powers) to ensure that Members’ political behavior is in line the official party position. Specifically, Whips ensure that Members of their party attend plenary, their party leadership is aware of the opinions of backbench Members on critical matters. Members are informed of forthcoming Parliamentary business and that Members debate and vote according to the official party position and policy. THE WHIP SYSYTEM IN UGANDA PARLIAMENT The Government Chief Whip, the Chief Opposition Whip and the other Party Whips are provided for under sections 6(h), 6(j) and 6( ) of the Administration of Parliament (Amendment) Act, 2006. These provisions are as well laid down in the Parliament Rules of Procedure. GOVERNMENT CHIEF WHIP The Government Chief Whip is appointed by the Government from among Members of Parliament representing the ruling party. The main role of the Government Chief Whip is to ensure due attendance, participation in proceedings and voting in Parliament of Members of the ruling party. CHIEF OPPOSITION WHIP The Chief Opposition Whip is appointed by the party in Opposition having the greatest numerical strength among the Opposition parties in Parliament. The main role of the Chief Opposition Whip is to ensure due attendance, participation in proceedings and voting in Parliament by members of the parties in the Opposition. PARTY WHIPS Other Opposition Parties represented in the House may appoint their own party whips if they so wish. The main role of the party whips in this case is to ensure due attendance, participation in proceedings and voting in Parliament by Members of their respective parties. GENERAL FUNCTIONS OF WHIPS The general functions of party whips under the Rules of Procedures of Parliament are: Organizing party business; Keeping Members informed of business; Designating Members to serve on Committees of Parliament; Cooperating with other whips in putting into effect and coordinating agreed Parliamentary business; Acting as intermediaries between leaders and other party Members; Arranging representations of party Members on official Parliamentary delegations; and Acting as tellers during division in the House.