Clear the way, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga is on her way back home
Posted Tuesday, February 5 2013 at 02:00
It said something about her endeavour to be neutral unlike her predecessor Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, who was perceived to be blinded by his support for the NRM party when he chaired the House.
In his song Osobola Otya (How dare you,) one of the greatest Ugandan musicians, Philly Bongoley Lutaya (RIP), captured the character of the average Ugandan thus;
Kye nonnya kye silabye, ge mazima mu bantu, ba ku yayanila ne bakutiikila engule, mu kibinjya eki goberera, mulimu emitiima egye futwa, enseko zo bulimba, no bunnanfuusi, enjuuba leero ebyasse mu.
Loosely translated, “among these people, I have looked for the truth in vain. They seek after you and crown you with heaps of (empty) praises. Then in times of need, you witness the darkness in their hearts. Their laughter is full of deception, and their hypocrisy is laid bare in broad daylight.”
When the 9th Parliament was sworn in, the current Speaker, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, won accolades for stating clearly that she would not attend her party’s caucus meetings. It said something about her endeavour to be neutral unlike her predecessor Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, who was perceived to be blinded by his support for the NRM party when he chaired the House.
Then tributes poured in about the virtues of Kadaga. Calls for her to stand for President became common place whenever she toured the country. She became a darling of the media that interpreted most of her moves as directly opposed to the wishes of the President (and the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi.) They cast her as a participant in a presidential race that was their own making
When Butaleja Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda died in controversial circumstances, the government claimed she had died of a drug overdose. The Speaker again won over several people for being ‘courageous’ when she openly disputed this at a charged funeral in Butaleja.
MPs attempted to recall the House from recess to discuss what they termed “the President’s contempt of Parliament”. Throughout all this Kadaga was cast in good light as the star standing firmly in the way of the Executive and it appeared like she had the backing of both opposition and NRM MPs.
But the Executive was not sleeping. The President held several meetings, including the NRM caucus meeting in Kyankwanzi. Some MPs apologised and withdrew their signatures. The recall effort fell apart. The MPs apparently shifted allegiance to the President. The Speaker who had hitherto been cast as a heroine became a villain when she ‘understandably’ refused to okay the recall.
She went further and suspended some journalists from The Observer newspaper from the precincts of Parliament because of ‘reporting inaccuracies’ about what transpired before she finally ‘succumbed’ to halting the recall. Now the media is on her case and so are commentators many of whom once heaped praises on her.
What has happened to the Speaker brings out what Philly Lutaya sang. It is an important side of Ugandans, which when well understood may help one to navigate through the murky world of our politics. Ugandans are deceptive, opportunistic and love winners.
They will do everything to associate with winners and it does not matter how the winners win. They will desert you if you show signs of failure whatever the cause or the principle you stand for.
Currently in Ugandan politics, like him or not, President Museveni it still the supreme winner. Museveni has understood the art of war so much so that he will carefully create enemies and choose battles which he eventually wins.
In this he ably employs decoys, makes tactical withdrawals to appear weak and vulnerable to his contenders -many of whom are no match for him in the first place. Then he strikes in his own time. The Speaker is now aware.
To her credit, Kadaga has begun the journey back home to the reality of sitting on the good side of the supreme winner. Time will tell if it is too late.
She must have taken note of the praises heaped on the Deputy Speaker by the President at his wedding a fortnight ago. Expect some adjustments. You have to clear the way as she hurries home lest you get knocked over. The Observer journalists are the first victims. Soon other erstwhile friends may soon follow.
Mr Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues.