Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Francis Zaake, the Member of Parliament for Mityana Municipality has said his appointment as a Commissioner of Parliament is not a reward for his unwavering support to National Unity Platform-NUP President Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert, but a deployment to further the struggle for democracy in Uganda.
Speaking to Uganda Radio Network-URN, Zaake who was appointed as the opposition’s single Commissioner said as a party, they resolved to use every position available to them to continue fighting until they end President Yoweri Museveni’s 36 year long hold onto power.
‘Parliament is the only place where Ugandans are fully represented therefore, we must use that place to air out the views of the people. I want to work so hard so that the people can see the role of parliament in their lives,’ Zaake said. Article 87(a) of the constitution creates the Parliamentary Commission, a body charged with administering parliament.
The Administration of Parliament Act lists the Speaker as the head of the Commission with membership from the deputy speaker, the leader of government business, the Minister of Finance, leader of the opposition, four other backbench MPs and the Clerk to parliament who is the secretary to the commission.
On Monday last week while MPs were electing the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Zaake got up from his seat and started shouting demanding that President Yoweri Museveni who was in attendance releases NUP supporters who have been arrested and detained in different parts of the country.
In the ensuing chaos, the Special Force Command soldiers tried to rough him up but were stopped by Museveni who ordered them out of the tent for MPs as demanded by Kaluungu West MP Joseph Ssewungu. It’s because of episodes like this that a section of the public questioned the appointment of Zaake to such an important position. Some have said that the only reason why Zaake would end up with such a big position is because of his close relationship with the NUP president Kyagulanyi.
While others like a political pundit, Yusuf Serunkuma believes in the current political configuration, its people like Zaake the country needs most. ‘Not so many people can do his kind of activism that has a real threat to Museveni’s power,’ Serunkuma said.
Zaake said he wished many of his colleagues embrace his brand of politics.
‘I have come in the leadership of parliament and I have a lot to do to expose the suffering that our people are going through. I have come to make a difference by using this position to further our struggle against Museveni. I want to use this position to force this regime to respect the will of the people,’ Zaake, who is in his second term as Member of Parliament said.
In his first term, Zaake burst onto the national scene after chaos broke out in parliament in 2017 as MPs debated the controversial constitutional amendment that sought to lift presidential age limits. In the ensuing melee, Gen. Katumba Wamala, the then representative of the UPDF punched Zaake sending him in a near coma for days. Since then, the 29-year-old legislator has had several run-ins with security forces which have seen him being taken to hospital.
Zaake is one of the early recruits of Kyagulanyi even before he announced his desire to challenge President Museveni. He’s the current youth coordinator in NUP. Also appointed with Zaake is Mathias Mpuuga [Leader of Opposition], John Baptist Nambeshe , Joel Ssenyonyi [Chairman Cosase], Betty Nambooze, and Medard Lubega Sseggona among others.
In the coming days, NUP is expected to appoint members that will form the shadow cabinet in parliament.