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Don’t quit job for public service, says Lister

Speaker of the House of Assembly Dennis Lister makes his way from the lower chamber to the Senate before the reading of the 2018 Throne Speech (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The Speaker of the House of Assembly cautioned Ugandans to give pause before quitting their jobs for a career in public service.

Dennis Lister, who is in the East African republic for a conference, said: “People should never give up their jobs to run for political office.

“You are serving at the mercy of an individual and if you and that individual fall out, your family suffers.”

The comments, which appeared in an article in Uganda’s Daily Monitor newspaper, were made during a meeting with people who had, at one time, worked in Bermuda.

Mr Lister and Progressive Labour Party colleague Kim Swan are at the 64th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Kampala.

Under Uganda law, a person elected to Parliament, when they are a member of a local government council or holds a public office, shall resign before they become an MP.

Mr Lister, an MP since 1989, said Bermuda legislators were encouraged to establish their careers before they sought office.

He said: “We are a small community, so the opportunity to re-establish oneself or get reconnected jobwise is also limited. If you give up your job today, it is going to be filled up immediately and if you lose your position in Parliament the following week, it will be hard to get back.”

Mr Lister added: “I have seen a lot of people get excited because they got elected and they give up their job.

“Many of us run our own business. Even when you don’t have an employer, you have to strike a balance with your private business.”

Mr Swan, a PLP backbencher, said: “I would never give up my job for politics.”

He added: “I am going to retire from politics and you always return to your trade.

“When you give it up, you return to zero and your family suffers.”

Mr Lister also spoke of Bermuda’s relationship with Uganda.

He said an effort was made to try and bring more people of colour into Bermuda in the early 2000s to “reflect the Bermudian native”.

Mr Lister said: “The African continent was looked at and Ugandans have been part of that community.”

The theme of the conference is “Adaptation, Engagement and Evolution of Parliaments in a Rapidly Changing Commonwealth”.

It runs until Sunday.