PARLIAMENT. Lawmakers yesterday banged tables, called the water and environment minister names, before kicking him and his officials out of a meeting called to discuss a ban on the use of polythene bags.
MPs on the Natural Resources committee led by former Finance minister Syda Bbumba, who announced the ban in 2009, said polythene bags (commonly known as kaveera ) pose a danger to the environment and “violates the rights of citizens to a clean and healthy environment.”
Attempts by Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, the minister, to blame the politically charged nature of any debate about polyethenes and the “lack of coordination” for the delay in banning kaveera, only further infuriated the committee.
Ssembabule Woman MP Anifa Kawooya noted that for 15 years she has been talking about the ban without success.
Ms Kawooya moved that the minister and team be thrown out despite his desperate pleas about the constitutional right to a fair hearing.
“We resolved that the kaveera should rest in eternal peace but the minister and his friends are just playing games. We are tired of talking; we want action and the minister should not appear before this committee until this matter is resolved,” she said.
She would be supported by Ms Ann Nankabirwa (Kyankwanzi Woman) who declared: “This meeting does not add any value, we did not come here to waste time. The minister and his team should leave the committee, we have other things do”.
Officials from National Environmental Authority (Neema) tried to explain the challenges they are facing, and steps being taken to implement the July 2009 ban but were told to shut up. The MPs accused the minister and his team of “incompetence” and expressed disappointment over his re-appointment to the same docket in this week’s Cabinet reshuffle. “What we want is a solution to this problem, we cannot keep lamenting all the time,” said Ms Bbumba. “In any case, not all types of buveera were banned; the ban was on polythene bags of less than 30 microns. Let the minister go to cabinet and tell the Prime Minister that Parliament wants the ban on kaveera to be implemented. We want to protect our environment.”