Thought and Ideas
Kadaga is inviting Museveni to take over the Parliament
Posted Sunday, October 27 2013 at 01:00
And then it came to pass…; eclipse of the NRM in Parliament. The day was Wednesday and the date October 23, 2013.
The Daily Monitor carried the Right Honourable Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga’s public response to the ‘uncharitable’ remarks made about her by Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah.
In my small brain, I had thought a Kadaga would view Oulanyah’s situation as an opportunity to exercise some leadership and reach out to her deputy. But this is Uganda; we play zero-sum politics.
And I cannot forgive myself to think that Kadaga would reach out to Oulanyah. How could I expect Kadaga to reach out to Oulanyah when the situation offered some kind of opportunity to put poor Oulanyah in his own place?
But my assessment was based on what I had seen as an upward trajectory of Kadaga’s leadership. You see, on Thursday May 2, the Speaker of Parliament dismissed the NRM’s request to expel four MPs from Parliament in an act that could only be interpreted as ‘NRM taking its members captive’.
Writing in these pages at the time, I said Kadaga had immortalised herself as ‘defender of the faith’ by inadvertently saving the ruling party from itself.
However, it is now clear that foiling the NRM’s attempted expulsion of the four MPs from the House represented more than Kadaga’s moment of exercising leadership. It meant there was no NRM leadership in Parliament. This explains President Museveni’s regular interventions in the passing of bills.
Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, the Leader of Government Business in Parliament, has been shut out and now ‘lives’ in near anonymity in the House. Any attempt for him to even contribute to debates is met with heckling even from his side of the aisle.
Because of the lack of leadership in Parliament, NRM (a ruling party with over 80 per cent parliamentary seats) is behaving like the opposition. Which is why we are likely to see President Museveni continue shepherding the NRM Parliamentary Caucus…; in spite of himself and his interests, he will merely be filling the leadership vacuum in Parliament.
Outside Parliament, it is not different. As a ruling party, the NRM is either shy or is so weak to even take advantage of the government PR efforts. There are no policy positions from the [non-existent?] secretariat.
Even when the party spokesperson was also the official spokesperson of the government, the party still struggled with issues of lassitude and the paucity of generation of and influencing policy.
The only active arm of the party is the Parliamentary Caucus; just because of the of budget allocation function of Parliament. And it only meets at the prodding or on the ‘invitation’ of the president.
A deeper reading of Kadaga’s response to her deputy reveals a serious level of pettiness in the so-called August House. Nomination of MPs for foreign travels has become one of the causes of conflict in Parliament. It was also one of the reasons the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Nandala Mafabi, has issues with opposition MPs.
We had expected Kadaga to take Oulanyah’s utterances for what they were intended: A clever attempt at smarting from to the Ssemujju Nganda incident in which the Deputy Speaker ordered the violent removal of the Kyadondo East MP from the chambers of Parliament.
Even if one discounted his character, Oulanyah must still be feeling bad after apologising for the Nganda incident. And Kadaga’s response is not helping in Oulanya’s healing process…
But with her response in the press, Kadaga has dispossessed herself of the moral leadership to reconcile with her deputy from a point of trust and confidence.
Trouble though is that there is no NRM leader who enjoys the moral high ground to reconcile the two. And that’s another avoidable invitation for Museveni to ‘come to Parliament’.
Asuman Bisiika is the Executive Editor of East Africa Flagpost.