Parliament on recess is not closed for business

By Okan Thomas Onyango

The Transitional National Legislative Assembly has responded on the refusal by the Minister of Information Communication Technology and Postal Services to testify before the parliamentary committee on performance of his Ministry.

Speaking to the press yesterday, the Chairperson of the Information Committee in the Parliament, Paul Yoane Bonju said Article (82) sub article (1) provides that the National Legislative Assembly or any of its committees may summon any public official or any person within South Sudan, other than the President, to testify or give opinion before it.    

“Firstly, the committee did not wake up to summon the Minister out of nothing. The committee wrote the summons in accordance with the provisions of the Transitional Constitution of the RSS, 2011 as amended,

“The summons were necessitated after numerous complaints were received by the committee from the members of the public concerning dangers posed to their health by the existence of telecom antennas installed within their residential areas,” said Yoane.

The Chairman also appealed to the Minister to rethink of his stance on the matter since he is considered as one of the iconic figures and legal minds in the country whose moves and legal opinion any time are usually regarded as exemplary authoritative and models for others to emulate.

“The minister should know that we are responding to the cry of our citizens, and because of the complaints by our citizens to this committee of the parliament, nobody is going to neither give up nor surrender. All we are doing is simply carrying out our National duty entrusted to us by Article 57 (a) connected to the powers and functions of the National Legislative Assembly, which is (a) oversee the performance of the National Government institutions and (f) summon Ministers to answer questions of members of the Assembly on matters related to their Ministries,” he stressed.

According to the Chairman, Sub article (3) provides that any person, who refuses to appear before the National Legislative Assembly or any of its committees or refuses to produce any document as required under sub-Article (1) above, commits an offence punishable by law.

This month, the Minister of Information, Communication, Telecommunication and Postal Service, National Minister of Land, Housing and Physical infrastructure and Central Equatoria state governor were expected to appear before parliament to answer some questions. Unfortunately, neither of them turned up for the meeting as the parliamentarians waited until the meeting was adjourned.

The Minister of ICT& PS was supposed to answer questions on the mysterious disappearance or the whereabouts of the tallest SSBC antenna in Juba.

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