Speakers of Parliament since 1962

Friday May 20 2011

With 302 votes, Ms Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga was yesterday voted Speaker of the 9th Parliament. She becomes the first woman to hold the position in Uganda. Ms Kadaga joins eight men who steered business in Parliament from 1962 to 2010. Isaac Imaka brings you the Speakers and the present one:

John Bowes Griffin (1962 -1963)
Sir John Bowes Griffin, a British lawyer, became Speaker after the then governor, Sir Robert Coryndo, relinquished the Legislative assembly and created the position of Speaker.
Before becoming Speaker, Sir Griffin served as Chief Justice of Uganda from 1952-1958.
Sir Griffin’s Parliament was not African-dominated and was an extension of the Legislative Council [LEGCO] with around 92 legislators.
According Uganda tax burden: the financial and governance costs of a bloated legislature, a report by Action for Development’s Godber Tumushabe and Zie Gariyo, the LEGCO was never established as an institution for the democratic governance of Uganda, but as an instrument to further the interests of the colonial regime

Narendra M. Patel (1963- January 1971)
An Indian, Mr Patel was the Speaker when President Milton Obote abrogated the Constitution after falling out with the Buganda Kingdom and introduced a pigeonhole constitution.
He was also the Speaker of the first Republic which was created after the banning of kingdoms.
But like the first Speaker, Mr Patel did not have much power as the central government was at the centre of all decision making.
Mr Patel’s speakership ended in 1971 when Amin took over power, sending the House into abeyance.

Prof. Edward Rugumayo (1979-80)
He took over the stewardship of Parliament after the overthrow of the Amin regime. But it was an interim Parliament called the Uganda Legislative Council.
Prof. Rugumayo as chairman. The council initially had 30 members but was later expanded to 120. It was the third Parliament. This continued the supreme legislative body until the general elections of 1980. He was born in Mwenge, Kabarole District. He has served as Cabinet minister, Speaker and ambassador. After losing out the chairmanship of the council in 1980, Prof. Rugumayo served as minister in President Museveni’s government in different portfolios including: Trade, Tourism, Industry and Internal affairs. He is currently the chancellor of the University of the Mountains of the Moon in Fort Portal in western Uganda.

Francis Butagira (1980-1985)
He was Born in November 22 1942 in Bugamba, Mbarara District. Mr Butagira served as the Speaker of the 4th Parliament until the military coup by Gen. Bazillio Okello overthrew the UPC regime.
Before becoming Speaker, Mr Butagira, A Harvard University graduate of Masters of Laws, had been a member of the National Consultative Council for two years from 1979 and a High Court judge between 1974 and 1979. He also served as a State Attorney in 1967.
After losing out on the speakership, he remained in Parliament as an MP from 1989 to 1996 where he chaired the parliamentary Committee on Legal and Security Affairs.
He was later made an ambassadors to Germany, a position he held until recently when he was relived of his duties.
He became the Permanent Representative to the United Nations in July 2003 after serving from 2000 as the mediator in the Sudan peace talks that secured the Sudan referendum.
He also led a team, in 1999 which foresaw the reestablishment of the East African Community.

Yoweri Museveni (1986 to 1996)
President Museveni served as the chairman of the National Resistance Council (NRC), the 5th Parliament after wining the 1981-85 guerrilla war.
Initially, NRC was not a national representative council but had 38 historical members of the National Resistance Movement/ Army. It was later expanded to include representatives from around the country.
Mr Museveni served both as the Speaker and President. In 1993 the NRC passed the Constituent Assembly Statute that provided for the election of the Constituent Assembly Delegates to work on the formulation of the new constitution.
Born in 1944, President Museveni has ruled Uganda for 25 years and he is headed to rule for 30 years. He formed a rebel group called FRONASA which helped topple Aimin’s government. He later fought a five-year war against Milton Obote’s regime that saw him come to power in 1986.


James Wapakhabulo (1996 to 1998)

Born in March 23, 1945 Mr James Wapakhabulo was the first Speaker after the removal of the NRC. This was the 6th Parliament. Mr Wapakhabulo, a lawyer, has been praised from different quarters as the best Speaker Uganda has ever had. Many political analysts and MPs remember him a Speaker who was impartial and steered the House with respect.
But it should be recalled that his Parliament was not a multiparty Parliament and members were not bound by party decisions.
He was the chairman of the Constituent Assembly, and subsequently he was later promoted to speakership of the first Parliament in the Museveni regime, a position he held up to 1998.
He is remembered for having strongly opposed the lifting of term limits in 2005 which led to his fall out with President Museveni.
After three years as a back bencher, he was appointed second deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2001, a position he held until his death in March 27, 2004.

Francis Ayume (1998- 2001)
Mr Ayume, a lawyer, was born on August 18, 1940.
He was the Koboko MP from 1996 until his death in a road accident in 2004.
He too was Speaker in the 6th Parliament having picked the mantle of speakership from Mr Wapakhabulo.
In 2001, he was appointed Attorney General and represented Uganda in the International Court of Justice in a case where Uganda was accused of invading DR Congo and allegedly plundering its natural resources. Uganda lost the case.

Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi (2001 to 2010)
Of all the past Speakers, Mr Ssekandi, the outgoing Speaker, will go down the annals of history as probably the Speaker who had the most criticism for being partial and having allowed Parliament to be slaughtered on the alter of the Executive.
Born on January 19, 1943, Mr Ssekandi became Speaker in 2001 and steered both the 7th and 8th Parliaments.
He joined active parliamentary politics when he was appointed as a member to the Constituent Assembly in 1993 to be part of the team that crafted the 1995 Constitution. He was later elected MP for Bukoto County Central, Masaka, in 1996; a constituency he has represented to date.
He first served as Deputy Speaker under the late James Wapakhabulo from 1996 to 2001.
An NRM stalwart, Mr Sekandi’s stewardship of Parliament has come under criticism with many accusing him of turning Parliament into a rubber-stamp institution, only to pass Executive demands and making decisions that only please the ruling party.

Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga- 2011-
Ms Kadaga, the Woman MP for the Kamuli District, who has been Deputy Speaker since 2001, became Speaker yesterday.
Born on 24 May, 1956, in Kamuli, Ms Kadaga holds Bachelors of Laws, a Diploma in Women’s Law and a Master of Arts Degree in Women’s Law.
Between 1984 and 1988, she was in private law practice. From 1989 until 1996, she served as the Kamuli District Woman MP. She served as the chairperson of the University Council for Mbarara University, between 1993 and 1996. During 1996, she served as Secretary General of the East African Women Parliamentarians Association. From 1996 until 1998, she was the Minister of State for Regional Cooperation (Africa and the Middle East). She then served as Minister of State for Communication and Aviation, from 1998 until 1999. Between 1999 and 2000 she was the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs.