BY AHMED KATEREGGA MUSAAZI
There is no doubt that President Museveni and his generation have monopolized much of the post-independence politics in Uganda.
Museveni and his FRONASA veterans like Eriya Kategaya, James Wapakhabulo, Ruhakana Rugunda, Amama Mbabazi, Kahinda Otafiire and UPM politicians; Bidandi Ssali, Kintu Musoke, Kirunda Kivenjija, then NRM/NRA/NRC’s Al Haji Moses Kigongo and then those who joined after 1986 like Specioza Wandira Kazibwe and Rebecca Kadaga, have dominated more than their predecessors; Milton Obote and Idi Amin.
President Museveni is warming up for swearing in ceremony on 12th May to form a new government. He should not act alone as an old timer. He should have a few of his contemporaries and in that spirit, Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga fits to be Speaker of Parliament.
So, the “younger” generation of Jacob Oulanyah, should continue to deputize, assist, and emulate the old generation in preparation for a smooth hand over from the old to the new which should be an evolution other than a revolution.
In the old generation, the best speaker was the late James Wapakhabulo. He was speaker briefly from 1996 to 1998. Yet almost all shades of opinion say, that he was the best. Wapakhabulo, a FRONASA/NRM Historical, and President Yoweri Museveni’s roommate in Dar Es Salaam University, in late sixties, and a Pan Africanist, who left Mont Masaba and married in United Republic of Tanzania, did get his fame for one and half years as Chairperson of
the famous Constituent Assembly. It took place from mid-1994 to late 1995.
Yet Wapakhabulo had stood in Mbale Municipality to represent it in C.A. and lost to ex-Chief Justice George Masika. But the Constituent Assembly Statute (1993) empowered the President to nominate five people out of which, the C.A. would elect its chairperson and deputy
By then, Wapakhabulo, was Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, he had also served as Minister of Cooperatives and Marketing that saw liberalization where Coffee Marketing boards, Lint Marketing Board and Produce Marketing Board did not only lose monopoly
over export of coffee, cotton and cereals, but were also disbanded.
His record as a minister was characterized with corruption scandals. But when he was elected by C.A. to be its chairperson, deputized by Prof. Victoria Mwaka (Rebecca Kadaga who had lost to Irene Kalikwani as a C.A. District Woman Delegate was one of those nominated by the
President for C.A. chairmanship), he started shining not only as a legal brain, but also as an unbiased.
“Although l am a man of the Movement, l will ensure that l will be objective and unbiased,” those
were his opening remarks thanking C.A. for electing him. He had been draftsman and Papua New Guinea, after the early liberation struggle under FRONASA, in early and mid-seventies failed. He also took with him, Sam Kalega Njuba, after he had survived narrowly a kidnap by
Obote’s fascists from streets of Nairobi in early eighties, and Prof. Gilbert Bukenya, who later became a Vice President.
So, in 1996, Wapakhabulo was considered even for Vice President, but by then Dr. Specioza Wandera Kazibwe was still a new VP, and Kingdom of Buganda had recommended Jabberi Bidandi Ssali for the same. After all MPs of the 6th parliament had been sworn in as a group in less than five minutes, and the then Chief Justice Samuel Wako Wambuzi, Wapakhabulo was unanimously elected Speaker so was her deputy the late Betty Okwir.
I was lucky to have covered plenary and committees of C.A. and two things l remember to have featured. One was that the delegates wanted a Vice President to be elected from Parliament not outside.
Surprisingly, that is not reflected in the constitution. It may have been deleted in the reconsideration stage thanks to the wise men and women of the legal committee chaired by Prof. George Kanyeihamba.
The other one, was for the speaker to be e3elcted outside parliament and if elected in parliament, h/she should resign as an MP. Promoters of this position also wanted ministers to be appointed outside parliament and if an MP is appointed s/he should resign as an MP. But
all these did not go through.
So, when one hears about term limits for a speaker of parliament being talked about now, when they never featured in Odoki Report of draft, C.A. , Sempebwa Report, wonders whether this is a personal war against Omuiseigaga, Princess Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga. Even where there were recommendations or decisions on presidential terms and age limits in Odoki report and draft, C.A. and Sempebwa Minority Report, they have been popularly done away with in accordance with circumstances of the day.
The popular but controversial Wapakhabulo, who was seen as President Museveni’s successor in 2006, was moved to National Political Commissar at the Movement Secretariat and was replaced with Francis Ayume, wqho was seen as an imposition from above and never popular,
and left presiding over the plenary to his deputy, who was very popular, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi.
l remember in 2001, there were two pairs of candidates for speaker and deputy speaker; The first pair was of Sam Kahamba Kutesa representing Mawogola County and former Minister and Attorney General, and Hope Mwesigye, Kabala District Woman MP who later became a cabinet
minister, and Edward Ssekandi and Rebecca Kadaga. Consultations took days and that is when swearing of an individual MP resumed, and at the end, there was unanimity on Ssekandi and Kadaga, who did it up to 2011 when Ssekandi had lost popularity and Kadaga came in.
One NUP leader in Greater Masaka was heard as saying that it was his prayer that President Museveni and C.E.C. remove Kadaga from speakership and bring in her deputy Jacob Oulanyah, so that Eastern Uganda and Buganda become fertile grounds for Opposition. L told him that President Museveni is the consumer of all intelligence information and
he is aware of that plot. However, Jacob Oulanyah should not be abandoned. For regional balance, he can be appointed one of the Deputy Prime Ministers and he can double as Attorney General.
Francis Ayume was appointed Attorney General in 2001 even before a cabinet wan named.
Therefore, those talking about two term limits on speaker-ship are just fighting personal wars. Whether there was an understanding in C.EC. that was a gentleman’s agreement which may be applicable or not depending on the prevailing circumstances
l have submitted this for God and my country because l know that both Kadaga and Oulanyah are capable to be speaker and or deputy speaker, but Kadaga has an edge over age, gender, experience, contribution (Kadaga played some role in ending UPA rebellion under Peter Otai,
William Omaria, Ataker Ejalu, etc…in North Eastern Uganda) but Oulanyah remains the speaker of tomorrow, ini sha’a Allah.
l know both have personal strength and weaknesses like the rest of us. Our movement and state organs will continue taming them. The “younger” generation has been patient enough, and this should be categorical as the last speaker of Rebecca Kadaga.
Haji Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi is a veteran journalist and a
Communications Assistant with Government Citizen Interaction Center
(G.C.I..C.) , Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.
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