Initially the intention was to have all affected by the changes quit office. But many defied this position citing the law.
“Parliament is not run by Najjanakumbi (FDC headquarters), we have rules of procedure and the head of parliament is the speaker and she is the custodian of the rules of procedure, when you look at the rule 146 on standing committee, they are supposed to serve for two and half years,” Among said at the time.
Indeed, it is on the basis of that rule that leaders of standing committees stayed on the job.
But the development had already escalated tensions between those who stood to lose the jobs and those who stood to gain them.
“How many reports has Hon Katuntu submitted on the plenary?” Munyagwa said at the time, “Munyagwa will always follow matters to their logical conclusion not this business of exciting the public.”
In a bid to calm down the tempers, Amuriat said the changes were intended to give others a chance to serve. He also said that he was guided by party loyalty in picking the new group. The other factor, he added, was contribution to the party financially.
What is significant to note, however, is that this reshuffle triggered the exodus from FDC by Muntu’s stalwarts?
“The best thing to ever happen to our cause is this reshuffle or blunder,” former FDC Secretary General Alice Alaso said on WhatsApp group of Muntu loyalists, “The sooner we build our outfit the better for us and for this country.”
Indeed following the reshuffle, several FDC legislators met and resolved to reject positions and not make monthly contributions to the party.
They also agreed to form a pressure group in parliament and support and campaign for independent candidate Kassiano Wadri in Arua Municipality. Wadri would later trounce the FDC candidate. The party has lost other four by-elections.
If the law did not provide that once a legislator quits a party on whose ticket they were voted, they lose their seats, insiders say the MPs would have united with Gen. Muntu to form a new political party and quit the FDC.
Still in order to bypass the law, some of the legislators have since been working behind the scenes as part of the New Formation, an outfit formed by Muntu and his loyalists which is aimed at building momentum until 2020, when they can form a political party and participate in elections.
It is against this background that observers say the new tensions in parliament only serve to further divide and weaken the opposition.
These sorts of things are also at the heart of why legislators Andrew Baryayanga of Kabale Municipality and Medard Sseggona of Busiro East are working on a Private Member’s Bill intended at amending the Administration of Parliament Act.
The FDC and the ruling party NRM are opposed to the Bill because if it goes through, it will give MPs powers to select their own leaders as opposed to the current arrangement where the parties they belong to do. This would deal the opposition a big blow.
Away from this, given their numbers—the entire opposition controls under 30 per cent of MPs in parliament, the opposition has also tended to find strength in working well with the speakership. If the current fight damages that relationship, parliament, FDC, and the entire opposition will be the losers.