Kadaga’s lioness character: loved by MPs, misconstrued by her party

One of the Parliamentary constitutional objectives is, to fearlessly scrutinize and oversee the executive at all times. The role entails that an independence of a house with legislative duties remains, un tampered with at all time. It requires non partisanship of the titular head of the institution. 

In April 2013, then leader of Government business, also secretary general of the National Resistance Movement John Patrick Amama Mbabazi wrote to the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, seeking to throw out four MPs, then labeled rebels, despite being NRM members. 

The four, Muhammad Nsereko (Kampala Central), Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga County), Barnabas Tinkasimire (Buyaga County) and Winfred Niwagaba (Ndora East) had angered the NRM, going against its rules and thus had denounced the four as no longer members of the ruling party.

Mbabazi, in his letter justified that since the four were no longer members of the Party and yet got into parliament on such ticket, they should seize to be MPs and bi elections in their respective constituencies be held. 

After careful consideration, in a four paged response to the house and, without demagogue, Kadaga refused to withdraw the MPs citing the law. 

In her argument, the Speaker said since the MPs had not declared to have crossed or left the party, there was no reason for them to be withdrawn from the house. 

Kadaga also created a special place for the four “rebel” MPs since they had turned independent and could neither sit in the NRM or the Opposition sides in the house. 

Well as her decision portrayed the house as independent an arm of the state, the ruling Party was angered and dismayed with the character disputing her loyalty to the party. 

Kadaga later argued that despite being NRM. She was also a speaker of the full house which constitutes Parties such as UPC, DP, FDC and the Conservative Party which at that time had representation in the house. 

This angered several of the NRM ministers who started critiquing Kadaga’s illustrated independence. 

As Kadaga continued to fight for independence of the house, her Deputy, Jacob Oulanyah started hobnobbing with the state showering praise for President Museveni, as the only visionary leader.

“President Museveni is a gift from God and because of his superhuman wisdom; we should keep him in power to continue serving Ugandans… He is a very devoted man. Like Jesus, he left the comforts of the world and decided to use his life to help Ugandans out of poverty and misery,” the Daily Monitor quoted.

Oulanyah later branded self as a potential opponent to Kadaga, handling matters in the house that Kadaga hadn’t handled.

“At one time, it was evident, Oulanyah was supposed to handle all controversial issues that NRM wanted. Kadaga had branded self as one who respects all political sides as she offered opportunity to all MPs to deliberate on the flow of the house,” a journalists covering parliament told Entebbe Post.

At the beginning of the 10th Parliament, Kadaga faced criticism as she worked behind closed doors to increase facilitation for MPs to buy new vehicles. Indeed, the closed session of Parliament resolved to increase money given to MPs to cars from Ugx 130 million to Ugx 200 million.

The Values we need

As former American President, Lyndon Johnson said as he signed the 1964 civil rights Act, risking her party’s political future to do the right thing, what the hell the Presidency is for? Kadaga kept Parliament checking the executive through the different parliamentary committees of Commissions on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises, Public Accounts and Local Government Accounts committees.

“One of the biggest highlights were the revelations of the Bank of Uganda probe. It revealed so many issues regarding the administration of the central bank. Indeed the executive especially the president remained angry on the conduct of COSASE,” Idah Nabayiga, told this reporter.

Sources close to the Parliamentary principle distinguish Kadaga as a chair of the house who moves to ensure that Quality bills and laws are passed as opposed to Oulanyah who believes, he needs to pass more laws disregarding quality.

Kadaga’s continued role in the fighting for Parliament’s independent position in the Uganda has led her to collision paths with the Deputy Premier Moses Ali, Ministers Ruth Nankabirwa (Chief Whip), Persis Namuganza (State, Lands) who believe that only the position of the President matters despite the known parliamentary role of oversight.

Indeed, the occurrences have seen her face opposition from Both Namuganza and allies including Nankabirwa in quest for a CEC position in her Party.

Current Impasse, electing Speaker

When deputy speaker Jacob Oulanyah declared interest to lead the 11th Parliament, excitement engulfed all Ministers and Parliamentary losers who opposed the election of Ms Kadaga as leader of the house for the third term.

Also rumor indicated that the current deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah had received up to Ugx 30 billion to buy off opposition members of parliament into electing Oulanyah speaker.

However, the contest shifted to competence and the independence of versus party loyalty as quest for the top job continues. Insiders say, well as Oulanyah has enough resources to buy off MPs, the most unifying factor is that all MPs believe Kadaga has better credentials, skills and expertise to lead the house.

Currently, a team of more than 280 female Members of Parliament have already endorsed Kadaga for the top job while Oulanyah major Acholi Parliamentary Group base has been subjugated to support Kadaga.

A new entrant, a female representative, in an interaction with Entebbe Post indicated that despite heavy investment by Oulanyah, he is classified as a Museveni puppet that is not willing to have a yielding interaction with the head of state but rather on the other hand would move further to promoting Parliamentary interests.

“That is what distinguishes Oulanyah from Kadaga. One is fighting for Parliament; another is being fronted by NRM to promote its interests. We all know, Kadaga has always promoted NRM interests but after careful consideration and without demagogue,” the MP said

As the battle moves in, other members of Parliament including Ibrahim Ssemujju Ngada and Richard Ssebamala have moved into the race, more and more MPs will offer loyalty to their ideal candidates as the Speakership races moves on.

Key debates that put Kadaga’s Speakership

1 – A resolution to investigate Ministers Sam Kahamba Kuteesa (Foreign Affairs), Hillary Onek (Then Internal Affairs) and Amama Mbabazi (then Prime Minister) over allegations that they had received bribes to sale off Uganda’s oil.

2 – A move to recall parliament to discuss the death of Cerenah Nebanda. Nebanda had mysteriously died and Government through its agencies including Police denied MPs from taking parts of Nebanda’s body for further scrutiny in South Africa.

3 – The Public Order Management Act that sought to regulate Public Gatherings across the country.

4- The LGBTQI bill that was passed by Parliament. The debate was later annulled by court after assent by the President. The bill sought to criminalize Gay and Lesbian Acts in the country.

5 – The GMO bill that sought to regulate the sale and growth of Genetically Modified Products within the country.

6 – The Age limit bill, commonly known as the Magyezi bill focused on repealing Article 105 (b) that blocked any person beyond the age of 75 from standing for Presidency. At that time, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was 74 years and would not contest for Presidency.

The bill was so controversial, leading to the pouncing of most MPs in the house who opposed the bill. Many MPs including Francis Zaake (Mityana Municipality) and Betty Nambooze (Mukono Municipality) were left injured. Speaker Kadaga has directed that Parliament pays for their medical fees.

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