Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Rebecca Kadaga is not pulling any punches as the race for Parliament Speaker hots up.
The incumbet has used her campaign launch ceremony to ‘expose’ her rival, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanya as a timid person who was scared of handling the Age Limit constitutional amendment bill sessions and opted for the safety of going to a foreign country, leaving her to handle the difficult session.
The Kamuli Woman Member of Parliament made the startling accusation Wednesday as she launched her bid for a third term as Speaker of Parliament with at least 100 Members of Parliament backing her.
In a colorful ceremony held at Speke Resort Munyonyo Wednesday, the MPs who are members of the National Resistance Movement -NRM, the opposition and independents professed their unwavering support for Kadaga in the race to retain her seat as Speaker of Parliament.
Amuru Woman MP Lucy Akello sung for her and prayed that she could retain her seat, while all the female MP gathered at the centre of the room and sang and danced in circles as she launched her campaigns.
The MPs include those who retained their seats and newcomers to the 11th Parliament who introduced themselves one by one, indicating that they were 100% Kadaga, while others said they were team Kadaga 3-1-1.
Kadaga’s campaign team of 300
Kadaga unveiled her team who she said is composed of more than 300 MPs, but only 150 had been invited to meet the COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures.
However, among the 150, Kadaga read only one Minister, Sarah Opendi as a member of her team. Opendi is the Minister of State for Mineral Development.
Alex Byarugaba Bakunda the MP Isingiro South who was absent was unveiled as the National Chairperson of Kadaga’s campaign team, with Gabriel Okumu – the newly elected Okoro County MP – as the National Vice chairperson.
Others are; four Vice chairpersons including; Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal as Vice-Chairperson Northern Uganda, Sarah Opendi as the Vice-Chairperson Eastern, Bright Amooti for Western Uganda and Robert Migadde the Buvuma Island MP as chair of the Central.
Kadaga also unveiled regional whips in Macho Geoffrey from Busia Municipality leading the East, Joseph Ssewungu the MP Kalungu West leading the Central, Dononzio Kahonda the Ruhinda MP leading the West, and Gilbert Olanya the Kilak South MP representing the North.
During the occasion, Kadaga used the opportunity to open up on the the alleged decision of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the NRM of reportedly supporting her closest rival Jacob Oulanyah.
Kadaga said it is not true that CEC does not want her for Speaker. She says that although some CEC members are spreading false information that CEC has decided on her rival, she personally seats in CEC with the President and National Vice-chairperson and to her knowledge no decision has been made.
She also refuted claims that CEC in its 2016 decision allegedly gave her a final term as Speaker, saying that in 2016 she only questioned why they wanted her to serve only one term and yet there was a precedence set that people serve two terms.
‘Oulanyah always abroad’
On the Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah not chairing the house for over a year, Kadaga said that Oulanyah absconded from chairing plenary several times preferring to go abroad.
She says that on several occasions when she asked Oulanyah to chair the house, he responded by saying that he had a trip and an engagement. She says it is then that she decided to do her job by chairing the house for all that while.
On the age limit bill, Kadaga also accused Oulanyah of fleeing the house at a time of chairing the controversial bill. She says that she was abroad, and Oulanyah called her saying she should come back and chair the sessions.
Kadaga said everyone witnessed how tense the age limit bill was, and how chairs were flying, and yet Oulanyah was very far away safe after he said he can’t handle it.
At one point, security officials stormed parliament to throw out MPs who were determined to halt proceedings. Eventually the bill passed, enabling President Yoweri Museveni to contest for presidency past the age limit then of 75 years.
Kadaga says she handled the age limit well.
According to Kadaga, she has stood in the gap between Ugandans and Government and that is why sometimes she gets issues because she is expected to stifle the opposition, but she has maintained that she is a Speaker for all.
Kadaga also said that some people campaigning against her were losers. She urged MPs getting phone calls from Statehouse to disregard it, saying that it was not the president calling them. Kadaga also refuted claims of bribing voters.
‘Kadaga the womens’ candidate’
Dokolo Woman MP Cecelia Ogwal urged the MPs to vote Kadaga as the right Speaker, saying she is a mother who has stood with Parliament. She however cautioned Kadaga not to take Oulanyah lightly since he now sits in CEC.
Ogwal also decried the fact that NRM’s CEC did not protect Kadaga when she contested for CEC, but protected Chairperson President Museveni, and the National Vice-chair Alhadji Moses Kigongo was protected.
She says since the three arms of Government are dominated with males, Kadaga should be left to remain as the head of Parliament.
Other MPs who were once known as the rebel MPs hailed Kadaga for protecting them even at a time when the party wanted to kick them out. According to Barnabas Tinkasimire, and Wilfred Niwagaba, Kadaga was an independent Speaker who fights for Ugandans.
Tinkasimire says that Kadaga’s objectivity is admirable.
Other people who attended the function are included Rosemary Nyakongoro the Sheema Woman MP, James Kaberuka from Kinkiizi West, Anifa Kawooya the MP Ssembabule, Joyce Bagala the MP Mityana, Elijah Okupa the Kasilo County MP, Hebert Kinobere the MP Kibuku, Suzan Amero the MP Amuria, and Lokii John Baptist the Matheniko MP.
Additionally Jane Okori-moe the Abim Woman MP, Charles Ayume the Koboko MP, Betty Engola the Apac Woman MP, Alex Ruhunda the MP Fort Portal, and Kahunde Hellen from Kiryandongo were also identified as part of the team.
Notable among the opposition is; Wilfred Niwagaba the Ndorwa East MP, John Baptist Nambeshe the Manjia County MP, Joel Ssenyonyi the Nakawa West MP, Christine Kaaya of Kiboga, Barnabas Tinkasimire Buywaga West, Kawempe MP Bashir Kazibwe among others.