From the Press Gallery: Faces we shall miss in the new Parliament
Posted Monday, February 21 2011 at 00:00
This column is dedicated to all those lawmakers who for some reason or another will not grace the 9th Parliament. It has been a grueling campaign season for all of them no doubt. Millions of shillings have been spent-and lost, hearts have been broken, hopes dashed and for many, it’s the end of the road of their political lives.
For those who took their jobs in the House as their sole source of livelihood, poverty will creep back into their lives if they did not invest wisely. It will be a fall from grace for many, no more fancy cars and clothes or an opulent lifestyle.
It is also true that our dear voters have dispatched a whole new bunch of good for-nothings to take up the places of those ousted. We will have a new breed of characters with little clue about public policy or governance, individuals who will put the interests of their bellies ahead of their constituencies. They will walk through the foyer of the 9th Parliament in faded clothes and worn out shoes but march out in new suits before driving away in a luxurious automobile. Of course, the Ugandan taxpayer will pick the bill after that.
That said, however, expect a new look Parliament, a House that will be the biggest in the history of this country with close to 400 MPs. By close of the weekend, there was every indication that this will yet again be an NRM dominated House, so expect all the mischief and misdeed that defined the legacy of the 8th Parliament to move forward into the next Parliament.
This election has sprung up several surprises as well as the expected. In these pages, we have discussed the abuse of power by those in public office and how our aspirations have been let down by many of our MPs.
But looking at provisional results, it would appear these discussions have not been in vain. I must admit that many of our voters have made informed decisions in throwing out their MPs by voting for change. The big victims are in the present cabinet, some of whom had stood as independents after losing their party primaries.
Ministers Alintuma Nsambu, Serapio Rukundo, Hope Mwesigye, Gaggawala Wambuzi, Beatrice Wabudeya, Aggrey Awori, Omara Atubo, Fred Mukisa, Jennifer Namuyangu, David Wakikona, Micheal Werikhe and Nsaba Buturo are the reported casualties. We will write their epitaphs after the Electoral Commission has officially declared them ousted.
However, the results have shown that President-elect Museveni really does not need so many of his ministers to guarantee his own support. The failure of many of them to retain their seats is an indictment on their so-called political clout. Actually, many of them have often ridden on the clout of their party and closeness to the big man. The voters have now stripped them naked and said we cannot take this anymore.
But while we may gloat over the political demise of many of these people, the flipside of this election has been the ouster of some firebrand MPs whose presence will be dearly missed in the House.
Imagine a House without Prof. Ogenga Latigo, the out-going leader of the Opposition. Picture a House without the astute MP Ben Wacha. Provisional results had shown Prof. Latigo kicked out of his Agago County constituency, while Mr Wacha was trailing. But it was a confirmed sad story for other MPs like John Kawanga, Charles Oduman, Livingstone Okello Okello, Tom Butime and several others. Save for Mr Butime, the rest were opposition MPs and they represented the cream of the alternative leadership in the House.
Mr Oduman was a quick-witted fellow who will be remembered for his razor sharp inquisition in financial audits especially when the government tried to pass a lot of misdeed under the carpet.
Mr Okello-Okello brought humour to a dour process and used his rich experience in the public sector to inspire progressive legislation on the floor and committee. Mr Kawanga on the other hand, was one who never clamoured to speak on the floor but when he did, he often brought common sense to debates derailed by emotion. These are the biggest victims in this election and the 9th House will sorely miss them.
Ray of hope
However, there appears light at the tunnel’s end with the entry of new MPs who promise to live to the billing of these ousted gentlemen. Mr Jack Sabiti returns to Parliament, Wafula Oguttu makes his maiden entry, so does Medard Sseggona. For the humour and serious, John Ken Lukyamuzi returns and no doubt he’s going to be a handful.
Fortunately, other MPs have bounced back which is such a relief. The likes of Wadri Kassiano, Odonga Otto, Henry Banyenzaki, Nandala Mafabi and several others will ensure the next House is not such a dire one.
We cannot ignore new faces such as Amelia Kyambadde, former principal private secretary to the president, Fox Odoi, a former legal aide to the president and Betty Bigombe a former minister, in this new look House. They carry quite some bit of political clout and we will keep an eye on them. Kudos to all the victors and pole sana to all the losers.