By Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi
The Central Executive Committee of the National Resistance Movement has cleaned its hands and left the matter of NRM flag bearers to be decided by the NRM Parliamentary Caucus on Sunday May 23rd.
The CEC meeting that was held at State House Entebbe on Monday May 17th, tasked the NRM Electoral Commission under Prof. Tanga Odoi to vet the aspirants. l came to know Speaker Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga Kadaga and her deputy Jacob Oulanyah in 1991.
That year, the then Minister of Lands Eng. Eric Adriko was about to launch a Commission of Inquiry into land matters, one of the members who was also from Kamuli District in the National Resistance Council became interested when I introduced myself as a reporter from Ngabo/The Star newspapers. She asked, “Ngabo? Omumbejja.” Then l asked her whether she was omumbejja (a princess) she neither affirmed nor denied.
Ngabo and The Star newspapers were pro Buganda publications where Ssaabataka, as Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi ll was called then, the Royal Family and Abataka (clan leaders) were revered. The papers were published by Shield Publications whose CEO was Omutaka Ndugwa Grace Ssemakula Musoke , the Clan Leader of Lugave (Pangolin) clan who later became a Second Vice Chairperson of Ssaabataka Supreme Council and a Second Deputy Katikkiro (Prime Minister) of Buganda. He is now retired.
But at a talk show on Radio Bilal in 2016, when l reminded her of our first meeting, she explained that she was a princess from Abaiseigaga Royal family (the British failed to announce Iganga and corrupted it as Iganga). She has however been a republican first in Democratic Party (DP) and later in NRM but with an interest in traditional/cultural institutions especially Obwakyabazinga bwa Busoga.
I did not pay more attention to Kadaga except I remember, when she was a Secretary of the sessional committee on presidential and foreign affairs at the time when Al Haji Moses Kigongo was deputizing President Museveni in chairing the National Resistance Council and the late Al Haji Abbey Kafumbe Mukasa was the Deputy Minister for Finance, who can be compared to David Bahati of today except that Kafumbe did not come for borrowing before the promulgation of 1995 Constitution that subject external borrowing to parliament’s approval.
Then came the constitution of the Constituent Assembly and Rebecca Kadaga was one of the eminent persons President Museveni nominated for election of chairperson and deputy chairperson. It was James Francis Wapakhabulo that was elected chairperson deputized by Professor of Geography, Victoria Mwaka whose performance was questionable.
But that had put her in lime light as she was considered for Deputy Speaker of Parliament in 1996 which was later taken by Betty Okwir however she was appointed Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in charge of Regional Cooperation. Of all the ministers and the ministers of state that were sworn in by the President at Parliament Conference Hall, it was only to Kadaga, that the President said “Kamuli juu” as she was sitting back after swearing in, and she also replied with “juu” but in a shaking voice.
Kadaga featured so much after the Burundi coup that brought back to power Maj. Pierre Buyoya as he frequented to Kampala and Kadaga led him to Kisozi where he met the President who took a long time to recognize him unless the Constitution order had been restored. Little do l remember about her when she switched to Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications as State Minister and her slot in Foreign Affairs was taken over by Amama Mbabazi.
But when it came to 2001 election of speaker and deputy speaker, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, who was a Deputy Speaker to Francis Ayume from 1998, twinned up with Kadaga as a pair and they were voted Speaker and deputy speaker respectively for 10 years and they did well.
Her 10-year tenure since 2011 with her deputy Jacob Oulanyah is well known and for continuity purposes, they should be given a third term. Their personal misunderstandings are easy to defuse but in case they can’t twin together again, one of them preferably Jacob Oulanyah should be appointed a Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs. In 2001, Franc is Ayume left speakership for Attorney General and he did well.
There is one thing where I totally disagreed with Kadaga-when she publicly rejected the offer of Vice President. That is the most second important position in Uganda and we have been with powerful vice president in the past.
I also think that her office did handle well the problem of step children of Karim Hirji whom they accuse of grabbing their late mother’s property, the late Ziba Nanyonga. It is high time it was revisited. Her office is also national but should be more.
As for Oulanyah, as a Guild Speaker of Makerere University, he came to testify in a Commission of Inquiry set to investigate Makerere riots that culminated in the killing of two students on December 10th 1990. The Guild President was Nobert Mao. I also covered him while chairing Legal Affairs Committee of 7th Parliament that recommended for lifting of political party activities, presidential term limits, and restored regional governments, among others.
Therefore, l commend the CEC to leave the matter to the Parliamentary caucus so that any one defeated will not start blackmailing the President that he caused his or her defeat. As for plenary next Monday May 24th, Kadaga’s birth day, it will be a mere walk over as no candidate from Opposition can win. NRM is the overwhelming majority party in Parliament.
I also implore the president to consider for ministerial positions some of the leading contenders on both positions of speaker and deputy speaker, who will not make it, for ministerial positions, as a consolation so that cohesion remains inside NRM camp.
The writer is a veteran journalist and a Communications Assistant with Ministry of ICT and National Guidance Digital Team.
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