Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has asked her National Resistance Movement (NRM) party caucus to “stop undermining Parliament”.
Ms Kadaga is the second national vice chairperson of the NRM and also the Woman Member of Parliament for Kamuli District.
While presiding over the House yesterday, Ms Kadaga said the NRM Caucus is failing the work of Parliament despite clear legal provisions for separation of power between the Executive and the Legislature.
“I just want to caution members that when we enacted the Administration of Parliament Act, we wanted to be free from the Executive; but now members are lifting issues from here and going there to agree with the Executive to undermine Parliament, to undermine this institution,” she charged.
She was reacting to concerns that the NRM Caucus under the Government Chief Whip, Ms Ruth Nankabirwa, convened at State House Entebbe on Monday and committed to overturn the decision by Parliament to halt the 15 per cent tuition fees increment at Makerere University.
The tuition increment policy triggered student protests at the university that lasted two weeks and left many students injured and their property vandalised by security forces.
The NRM Caucus, during the State House meeting, also agreed to block the Administration of Parliament Bill 2019, which proposes that Government Chief Whip, Leader of the Opposition and Committee chairpersons be elected rather than appointed as is the case now.
“I want to reiterate that stop undermining Parliament, stop undermining this institution, stop undermining the institution of Parliament,” Ms Kadaga warned sternly.
However, Ms Nankabirwa, in her defiant response, said she had broken no law and pointed her critics to the existing multi-party political dispensation.
“We are in a multiparty system, I don’t know which rule I broke. I can be reminded of the rule I broke,” she shot back.
Ms Nankabirwa (Kiboga Woman MP) told Parliament that the issue of Administration of Parliament Bill was resolved by “the caucus which sat some months ago in Kampala and my role on Monday was to remind them on the decision we had taken.”
She emphasised that the office of the Government Chief Whip is created by law and its functions are known.
“I am supposed to whip my members so that we agree on how to move and once we sit in my caucus and take a position, that is what we make sure that we support and this caucus has rules that guide it,” Nankabirwa said.
How it started
The concerns of infringement on Parliament were raised by Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga, who was backed by the Opposition chief whip Semujju Nganda, with both questioning the powers of the NRM Caucus on decisions already taken by Parliament.
“My concern is that in this particular caucus were members of the committee that the House mandated to investigate and report back but they are part of a resolution to water down, even forestalling a report of the committee,” Mr Mpuuga said.
He added: “I am aware that the caucus can sit and discuss but on a matter the House has resolved and mandated a committee to report on, wouldn’t this kind of arrangement render the work of the committee nugatory in view of the controversies and duties of Parliament and the principle of separation of powers.”
Mr Ssemmujju reinforced: “I think the Government Chief Whip can make us understand if there is any other platform that can rescind decisions of Parliament just like that.”
Ms Kadaga reiterated that Parliament decisions must be respected.