Buikwe. Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has warned she will not allow Parliament degenerate into a chaotic House like the case in South Africa.
Comparing the chaotic scenes that characterised Parliament last Tuesday and Wednesday, Ms Kadaga said the South African MPs are fond of shouting down their President and nothing is done. She warned that such behaviour will not be tolerated in the Ugandan Parliament under her watch.
“In South Africa, they don’t allow the President to speak in Parliament and those that don’t accept him are the opposition of Economic Freedom Fighters party led by Mr Julius Malema,” Ms Kadaga said at a function in Lugazi, Buikwe District, at the weekend.
“You cannot refuse Parliament to sit or table any motion. Parliament is like a sports ground. When you are given a red card, you have no authority to stay on the pitch and if you insist, you are added a punishment,” Ms Kadaga said.
She warned that if such behaviour is tolerated in Parliament, some MPs might command that they don’t want the national Budget to be read and hands will be folded and no work will be done in the House.
The Speaker cited last week’s scenario when some Opposition MPs, wearing red bandanas, who are opposed to amendment of Article 102b of the Constitution that seeks to lift presidential age limit, shouted down the Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda.
Dr Rugunda had attempted to give the government’s explanation on why there was heavy deployment of security forces in and outside Parliament.
“When you don’t like something, raise your hand and speak against it; ‘that you have brought this but we don’t like it’. But don’t refuse the House to sit or to bring any motion,” Ms Kadaga said.
Last Wednesday, she suspended 25 MPs following chaos that reigned in the House as legislators opposed to removal of age limit for the President tried to block the motion seeking to table the Bill for amendment of the Constitution.
The Speaker ordered the Sergeant-at-Arms to eject the suspended MPs from the House, accusing them of being rowdy.
Article 102 (b) currently bars any citizen aged below 35 or above 75 from vying for presidency.
Mr Museveni, now aged 73, will be ineligible to stand again in 2021 under the Article as he will be aged 77.
After adjourning the House for 30 minutes, Ms Kadaga said on her return, she expected not to find any of the suspended MPs in the House.
Security personnel descended on the suspended MPs and bundled them out of the House.
The security operatives grabbed the MPs and dragged them to waiting police trucks outside Parliament and drove them to various police stations.
Some of the arrested legislators suffered injuries during the scuffle and were hospitalised. A Parliament staff was also injured in the fracas.
In a related development, while presiding over a separate function at the International Elderly Persons Day at Saza Grounds in Kiboga District yesterday, Ms Kadaga said actions of Opposition MPs in the House last week are tantamount to a coup.
She said such chaotic scenes where MPs engaged in fist fights, throwing of chairs and using microphone stands to hit each other, required swift and stringent action to restore sanity in the House.
Ms Kadaga also said the MPs wanted to hijack her mace, which she described as an act of indiscipline and intended to hold government hostage.
The mace sysmbolises the authority of the Speaker in Parliament and once taken, it leaves the Speaker powerless.
“Their actions had started weeks earlier and wanted to hold government hostage which we could not allow. It was not right, it was wrong to try to hijack the mace,” Ms Kadaga said.
She also cautioned government officials not to be partisan while selecting beneficiaries of elderly persons’ grant.
According to the Speaker, the citizens grants are for all regardless of their political affiliations.
“Senior citizens’ grants are for all senior citizens not only those who voted for NRM,” Ms Kadaga said.