I have always looked
at opposition MPs praising speaker Kadaga and laughed. They talked about how
ethical and consistent she is despite being
a staunch Museveni supporter . They were shocked last week when she allowed Museveni’s SFG soldiers to unleash terror on
them. It is very difficult to consistently work with president museveni for
over 25 years and still retain your integrity. Speaker Kadaga used a very low sense
of judgment to dismiss MPs within a parliamentary sitting. She should have
dismissed them and adjourned the sitting , the next day, the security could
have prevented them from entering parliament. Kadaga is likely to go down in the annals of
Uganda’s history as the worst speaker this country has ever had. She has
removed all doubts that she is a rubber stamp of the executive and particularly
Speaker Kadaga delivered MPs’ independence to the wolves
distasteful events that took place in parliament last week exposed the
speaker’s lack of will to protect and defend her members.
And to protect does not mean she has to
be clothed in armoured equipment and surround herself with unpleasant
armed personnel. Whereas the speaker routinely chairs parliamentary
debates, she/he is supposed to embody the independence of the House.
Being a multiparty parliament, the
speaker ought to exhibit impartiality in her conduct. In her case,
Kadaga is the champion of the House as well as its servant!
In the past, Kadaga had shown some
commitment to defending the rights and interests of MPs. She defended
the NRM rebel MPs who the party wanted expelled from the House.
When some Ugandans ran to court to block
parliament from probing and debating the Shs 6bn given to some
government officials for winning a court case that delivered $700
million from oil companies, the speaker defied Justice Steven Kavuma’s
The speaker regarded this order as an
affront on the independence of the legislature and that it offended the
doctrine of separation of powers.
In all this, Kadaga drew inspiration
from the most celebrated example set by Britain’s William Lenthall in
1642, who defied an order from King Charles I to hand over five members
of the House of Commons, saying he only took instruction from
parliament: “I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this
place but as the House is pleased to direct me.”
Therefore, with such examples of stellar
performance, until last week, there was no doubt that Kadaga was in
charge of the House.
In many ways, the speaker is to blame
for the fracas that arose last week. Three MPs rose and said Minister
Ronald Kibuule had entered the chambers with a gun.
The first MP, William Ngozhu, was rudely
asked to sit down when he raised the issue. Medard Lubega Sseggona then
requested that the speaker suspends the House for some minutes so that
they can check the members for the gun.
Then MP Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda told the
speaker that she could even be assisted with camera footage to
ascertain that Kibuule, indeed, had a gun. Ssemujju told the speaker
that Kibuule had threatened to kill him that day.
Still, the speaker refused to do
anything. It is from this point that members decided to take charge of
their security by attempting to check Kibuule for the gun.
It is not clear why the speaker was
protective of the minister at the expense of the dignity and safety of
the House. A melee ensued and, in seconds, chairs and other items were
The speaker also could have saved the
subsequent fracas if she had found that some members’ conduct deserved
punishment such as suspension from the sitting.
She should have meted out this
punishment on that day (Tuesday) according to the rules, and not carry
forward her action to the following day. It appears the speaker knew
that the affected MPs would defy her orders to withdraw from the
Before the Wednesday sitting began,
plainclothes security operatives were seen accessing the parliamentary
building from the president’s office side. They would later come in
handy after the speaker suspended 25 legislators and ordered their
immediate eviction from the House.
The inspector general of police, Gen
Kale Kayihura, chest-thumped in the aftermath of the events that he had
planned the invasion of parliament. It appears the orders were to
manhandle all opposition MPs, whether they were suspended or not.
Otherwise, what explains that Nabilah
Naggayi, Matthias Mpuuga, Ssemujju and many others who had not been
suspended were brutally thrown out by these very security operatives? It
appears the orders were to harass and brutalize all those who were
opposed to the bill on lifting the presidential age limit. It was not
about restoring order in the House.
In an interview published by Saturday
Vision of September 30, 2017, Kadaga denies deploying SFC operatives, or
even having knowledge of their presence. She says the Sergeant at Arms
sought assistance from them (this contradicts Kayihura’s utterances).
But then in the same interview, Kadaga
asks: “So, if there is danger to parliament, we should leave it? We
should allow people to be killed? Parliament to be burnt? People to
approach and overrun parliament…” This is a contradictory stand.
If the intention was to ensure safety
and security of the House, then the speaker should have suspended the
House on Tuesday when members complained about the minister who
possessed a gun. Kadaga needs to pick Lenthall’s approach.
She is a servant of the MPs, and she
does not have to fuse the interests of the executive with those of the
legislature. It is difficult to serve two masters equally and
comfortably at the same time.