Parliament on Tuesday expunged from its Hansard records of a displeasure motion against the deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah.
The motion was passed at the height of controversies on the allocation of Shs10b that was given to the members for interventions to help in the fight against the spread of coronavirus.
Although the motion was initially against President Museveni, who castigated legislators for the allocation, a move he termed as morally reprehensible, Bugabula South MP Maurice Kibalya moved an amendment to include Mr Oulanyah, who was condemned for returning the Shs20m he was given as part of the allocation.
The MP accused the deputy Speaker of going against the Parliamentary commission’s decision by returning the money yet he belongs to the same commission.
However, Mr Oulanyah said he returned the money on the guidance of the President and Parliament. Prior to the return, court had ruled that Parliament erroneously appropriated itself the money.
On Tuesday, in a rather an unprecedented manner, the deputy Speaker attended the plenary session chaired by the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga. Sitting on the front bench usually reserved for ministers, Mr Oulanya attentively followed the proceedings as the House passed the Justice of Administration Bill.
As the Speaker was adjourning the day’s proceedings for a lunch break, Mr Oulanya stood and motioned to the Speaker, seeking for an opportunity to speak on the floor of the House but Ms Kadaga declined to grant him the permission. He, however, followed her to the VIP room where they discussed the matter.
On return for the afternoon session, the Speaker officially expunged the motion from the Hansard records.
“I just wanted to address one issue. In the proceedings of May 12, 2020, reference was made to the Rt Hon Deputy Speaker, I have had an opportunity to look at the content and I’m of the view that I should exercise the authority of the Speaker under rule 226, in the rules of procedure to expunge the record of the Deputy Speaker,” she said.
However, Mr Oulanya made a second attempt to speak to the House which was still blocked by the Speaker. He then walked out of the sitting.
In his explanation, the deputy Speaker told journalists that he propelled to attend the day’s sitting because his matter had not yet been handled as requested.
Mr Oulanyah said he had written to the Speaker two weeks ago challenging the manner in which the motion was handled. According to him, Ms Kadaga wrote back saying she would take action but this had not been done ever since.
In his argument, Mr Oulanyah says if a motion against the person of the deputy Speaker is going to hold, it should be substantive and not an informal or amended one.
“It was incorrect so I wrote a letter two weeks ago and she responded and I was waiting for the action that the record should be corrected, that particular statement and record should be expunged from the record in the standard procedure but it was not done that’s why I had to come today, it’s now done and am okay,” he said.
“Somebody proposed an amendment on the record that my content should also be discussed and the chair encouraged the discussion and actually my name was mentioned. That is not according to procedure. You do not bring a discussion on the character of the person of the deputy Speaker through an informal motion, it has to be a substantive motion,” he added.
Is Kadaga fighting Oulanyah?
The rivalry between the Speaker and her deputy once again came to the fore, with a proposal reportedly aimed at impeaching Mr Oulanyah.
MPs from the Busoga caucus reportedly started collecting signatures to impeach Oulanyah early last month, a move that Oulanyah loyalists are suspicious could be coming from Kadaga’s camp.
According to media reports some MPs have already signed the petition in a discreet move.
The fight between the two leaders of the legislative arm of government has over the years morphed into open fights in the leadership and management of Parliament.
The rivalry, which is traced to a bitter fight for the country’s number three position in the aftermath of the 2016 General Elections, has seen the two castigate each other, and disapprove each other’s methods, even in the public domain.
While Oulanyah says Kadaga has messed up Parliament, Kadaga accuses her Deputy of being arrogant and incompetent. On several Occasions, Kadaga has overruled decisions taken by Oulanyah, declined his requests to travel and kept him ‘away’ from chairing the house.
“Oulanyah sometimes goes for long without chairing the House, and in some cases he is made to sit during controversial topics, and when something interesting comes up, the speaker herself, takes over,” the source said explaining why Oulanyah has not chaired parliament since the lockdown started.
However, amidst the chaos of the Shs10 billion allocation to Parliament, the fight took a new twist.
On May 7, When Parliament debated a motion to express displeasure with President Museveni’s stance on the payments made to individual members of Parliament, Bugabula South MP Maurice Kibalya, amended the motion to include Jacob Oulanyah, the Deputy Speaker who they say betrayed Parliament by returning the money, against the guidance of the speaker.
This reporter has learnt that a section of MPs has started collecting signatures to impeach Oulanyah. To impeach a Speaker or the Deputy, a seven days’ notice, signed by not less than one-third of all MPs is needed. In this case, those sponsoring the move would require at least 153 signatures in support.
The motion needs to be passed by not less than two-thirds majority of all the voting Members of Parliament. But according to sources who work with the Deputy Speaker, Oulanyah has been preparing to take on the matter legally.
“Ever since the motion was amended to express displeasure for him returning money, by an MP from Kadaga’s side, Oulanyah knew what was coming, and I am told he is going to take this legally” the source close to Oulanyah said.
URN confirmed from a senior officer in the office of the Clerk to Parliament that there was a proposal to impeach the Deputy Speaker, but this did not go beyond the Busoga caucus which was initiating the idea last early May. However, the Private Press Secretary to the Speaker, Sam Obbo said that there is not such war between the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.
“What I can confirm is that the speaker is not the one instigating all this. This is what you can quote me on,” Obbo said.
He told URN that he had personally read about the petition, but had not seen it physically.
One of the top leaders in Parliament who cannot be quoted said that indeed there is a fight, but it is only natural for the two people.
Professor Mwambutsya Ndebesa, a Political science Don at Makerere University says that there are always frictions within some individuals especially if one is the deputy.
Additional information from NTV