Kampala- The ruling NRM party’s retreat at Kyankwanzi turned into a boxing ring on Tuesday night as two female MPs fought each other over sleeping arrangements in a fracas that reportedly resulted in one of the politicians being taken to a clinic.
The scuffle confirmed by NRM deputy spokesperson Ofwono Opondo erupted after Ms Ann Nankabirwa, the Kyankwanzi District MP, displaced Ms Florence Nebanda (Butaleja Woman) from a bed the latter had occupied for three days.
“On the issue of disciplinary action, the government Chief Whip has already been briefed but the same matter can also be handled by the [party’s] Women’s League,” Mr Opondo said.
Other MPs told Daily Monitor that Ms Nebanda’s belongings were folded away and her bed assigned to Ms Jenipher Nantume Egunyu, the Woman MP for Buvuma District, on the instructions of host MP Nankabirwa.
Ms Egunyu, according to sources, only reported for the retreat on Tuesday evening together with Ms Julian Auma Modest (Abim Woman). All this happened when Ms Nebanda was attending the classes.
MPs who talked to Daily Monitor yesterday said when Ms Nebanda returned at about 10pm, she realised her bed had been allocated to another MP and her belongings removed without informing her.
At this point, a source said, she started asking questions before “hell broke loose” in the dormitory.
Ms Nebanda, who was cheered on by other members, lost her cool after Ms Nankabirwa took the view that as the host, she reserves the right to decide which “family member” sleeps on which bed.
Incensed, Ms Nebanda accused the Kyankwanzi Woman MP of “arrogance” and “sheer lack of respect”, this newspaper was told.
“She made it clear to Ms Nankabirwa that if she wanted peace, her belongings should be returned to her bed and Ms Egunyu vacates her place and that her late coming was not her problem,” one of the MPs recounted the drama. When Ms Nankabirwa refused to budge, another legislator said Ms Nebanda grabbed her and they started fighting.
As the fight intensified, other female MPs in the “business dormitory” started cheering Ms Nebanda as the two members clashed and hurled insults at each other. Some sided with Ms Nebanda and accused Ms Nankabirwa of egotism.
Mr Opondo said although there is enough accommodation for the more than 300 MPs attending the retreat, he admitted that “there is pressure exerted on the available facilities” because of the high turn up.
“There was no need for a member to physically try to take a bed that had been occupied by another member for three days. Those who came late and those who can’t climb the double-decker beds should have contacted Nali [National Leadership Institute] staff to assist them,” he said.
The NRM parliamentary caucus treasurer, Ms Robinah Nabanja (Kibaale Woman MP) and Ssembabule Woman MP Anifa Kawooya are reported to have tried to intervene but without any success.
Some sources said they were also punched in the process as they attempted to stop the brawl.
Although other MPs and the party deputy spokesperson confirmed the incident, Ms Nankabirwa yesterday said she was enjoying her breakfast, adding: “I have not been to any clinic or any drug (sic). Neither did I fight.”
She told Daily Monitor over the phone that when Ms Auma and Ms Egunyu reported, “we made efforts of squeezing our beds to create space for them”.
While Ms Nebanda was not available for comment, Ms Nabanja who first denied the incident, claiming that “MPs cannot fight” later blamed the brawl on the high turn up of the members.
“The turn up of the members is very good and it has never been like this before. It’s true we have limited space between beds in our dormitories and members are sharing as sisters of the same NRM family, though a few [members] find it a little inconveniencing.”
She wondered why it should be a big story even as other legislators accused the MPs of degrading the dignity of Parliament and demanded that they face disciplinary action.
Meanwhile, Education minister Jessica Alupo was grilled yesterday over the controversy surrounding teachers’ Sacco money.
Ms Alupo reportedly later blamed everything on the Solicitor General’s “wrong advice”.
She said she was misadvised by the SG who instructed that the disputed funds go through Microfinance Support Centre for easy access.