Thought and Ideas
Kadaga erred in refusing to recall Parliament
Posted Sunday, February 3 2013 at 02:00
It had been reported before she made the blunder that she had voluntarily or involuntarily participated in clandestine meetings with leaders and envoys of the Executive...
The Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga erred in her ruling against the recall of Parliament, which by all right-thinking and legally-qualified Ugandans had been legitimately and constitutionally petitioned for. The ruling slightly dented her hitherto clear and clean reputation as a brave and principled guardian of Parliament and its members’ immunities and privileges.
She should have loudly and persistently protested when the so-called rebel members of the august House were not only scathingly criticised but arrested and detained by the Police, apparently on the orders of the Executive. Just as previously the Judiciary was raided by the black mambas for doing its constitutional duty, the 9th Parliament was fouled by an increasingly intolerant Executive for doing its own duty.
The Speaker may not have remembered the words of the reputed first Speaker of Parliament.
This columnist keeps repeating it in his dialogue with parliamentarians since the advent of the NRM Administration. The Speaker’s bounden and honourable duty is to ensure that MPs are protected at all times and in all sorts of political weather whether intimidating, stormy or life threatening.
Ms Kadaga could not have forgotten the sacred duty of not listening and acting on other people’s stories or rumours or bending to the whimsical wishes of the Executive. The Speaker should have acted and spoken from her own considered knowledge of the Constitution and Rules of Procedure of Parliament. She should not have lent her ears to hear or eyes to see, let alone the weakness to act as directed by anyone else, including the mighty and all powerful Executive. To have succumbed to these intimidations and coercion exerted by external forces, rendered her decision constitutionally unattainable and therefore erroneous.
It had been reported before she made the blunder that she had voluntarily or involuntarily participated in clandestine meetings with leaders and envoys of the Executive in its determination to confront what it calls rebel MPs and thwart the will of Parliament. She appears to have forgotten that these forced meetings were preceded by panic, uncoordinated movements and threats, all emanating from members of the Executive.
Ms Kadaga could not have forgotten that even the police who had originally consented to the procedures and engagement of experts to determine the suspicious death of an honourable member had themselves been intimidated, not only to withdraw their consent but actually arrested and detained everyone who was involved in the discussions to determine the cause of death of the late MP.
The Speaker appears to have been misled to believe the stories which had circulated before that several MPs had been compromised by the same Executive or otherwise to withdraw their signatures from the petition or that one single member who others say had been paid to say that his signature was forged and did, would justify her decision. To proceed on such premises would spell disaster to Parliament’s methods of work.
Every time thereafter an agitated Executive that disliked a resolution or Bill passed by Parliament, would use these questionable devices to convince or buy enough MPs to falsely claim that they were absent from the Chamber of Parliament in the case of voting Ayes and Nays or from the lobbies in the case of divisions and therefore the resolution or the Bill as the case may be was flawed. Once a signature has been appended to a petition and the Speaker has already received that petition, Article 95(5) is complied with immediately and as arguments can be entertained except during or after the debate that ensues following the Speaker’s recall of Parliament.
One quality a leader must have is the political killer instinct. President Museveni, himself, the master of the same persuasion, once said that in politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies. It is very much hoped that notwithstanding this error of judgment, Ms Kadaga who is an intelligent lawyer and seasoned parliamentarian, will rise and shine again.
Her previous decisions and conduct have been exemplary. Those of us who know her and believe in her abilities and unflinching loyalty to this country have no doubt that she will fully recover from this slip.
Justice Kanyeihamba is a retired
Supreme Court Judge. firstname.lastname@example.org