I will be the bridge between Opposition and NRM - Among

Anita Among is the new  Deputy Speaker of Parliament. PHOTO | ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Ms Anita Among, the Bukedea Woman Member of Parliament (NRM), was elected as Deputy Speaker of Parliament after getting 415 votes against Mr Yusuf Nsibambi (FDC), who got 35 votes followed by Mr Muhammad Nsereko (Independent) who trailed with 24 votes. Herbert Zziwa and Esther Oluka bring you excerpts from an interview Among had with NTV on Wednesday. 

Congratulations on being voted Deputy Speaker of the 11th Parliament
Thank you so much. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the Members of Parliament (MPs) who voted for me as well as those who did not. I want to also thank my party, the NRM (National Resistance Movement), and, CEC (Central Executive Committee) that approved me to be on the ballot paper. 
I am so grateful, humbled, and highly indebted to the party, MPs, and to the country at large.

I promise to do my best within the Ugandan laws, especially in making sure I promote the issues that affect the women of Uganda. 
And special thanks to the people of Bukedea for entrusting me with their mandate to be in the 11th Parliament. I am humbled and grateful. I promise not to disappoint them; to do my best to make Bukedea a district that everyone will admire as well as redeem the image of Parliament, in totality. 

What are the things you are going to do to redeem the image of Parliament? 
For some time, we have had an issue with parliamentary affairs, the way things are being run in Parliament. We are supposed to take Parliament to the poor people. If you are talking about issues, like the oversight roles, in Parliament, the MPs are supposed to go on ground to see what is being done there other than debating in the House and leaving things on paper. 
For instance, this issues of Emyooga (a plan to alleviate Ugandans from poverty), if people are complaining about what is done on the Emyooga fund, let us send our members to do the oversight role, in their constituencies and they report back, other than deliberating and debating on hearsay. That is what I feel we should do in this Parliament. It should be an action-orientated House. 

What are your other priorities as Deputy Speaker in this Parliament? 
Bringing unity in the House. We should not be like we are in the National Theatre where people are fighting and we should be able to debate and bring motions to the House that affect the local person, all Ugandans.  We are going to be as non-partisan as possible. We are going to make sure that whatever we do is for all Ugandans. Also, we are going to make sure that as Parliament of Uganda, MPs do their work for their people. It won’t just be about showing up as an MP in Parliament. No! We want these people (MPs) to do their work, especially in reducing their poverty levels, in terms of following the parish-model (conceptualised from the idea of working in collectives for community social economic transformation), which we have injected in a lot of money. I want MPs to ensure that they are part of the committees that are implementing the parish model. 

MPs at the election of Speaker and Deputy Speaker of 11th parliament on Monday. PHOTOS/ ALEX ESAGALA

All shades of political affiliations voted for you. Was it because of your popularity or something else? 
Yes, I got so many votes (415 and the second followed with 35) and I am really very grateful for that. Actually, I was supposed to get more than that but it was unfortunate that members left early because it was getting late. But, like I have always said, I am going to be the bridge between the Opposition and the ruling government. 
Having come from Opposition, you find there are people who still believe in me from this side (and even after crossing over), they are people who believe in the ruling government. For me, I cut across. I am a down-to-earth person. Second, I am a very good mobiliser. And, actions speak louder than words. People know what I can do, and, that is why you find everyone believed in giving me their votes. 

There is the assumption that you won because of being close to the President
That assumption of being so close to the President, I don’t think gave me votes, maybe from the NRM side. Of course, Opposition would not give me votes because of being so close to the President. But, I got the votes because of my own competence, loyalty to members and being down to earth. It had nothing in relation to being close to the President. 

There is also the assumption that even when you were still in FDC, you were working with the President and NRM. Is this true?
Unfortunately, it is a mere hearsay, rumour. When I was in FDC, I had never met the President. I only met him after joining Parliament as an Independent. I was not a mole in FDC. I was purely an FDC member and used to do the work (of the party) and after joining Parliament, I started working with the ruling party and the President. I don’t see any problem with being close to the President. He is my boss and I will work for him and this country. 

There are those who say you might struggle for five years as Deputy Speaker because you lack the experience
When they talk about experience, I don’t see a school for one anywhere, and in case it was even there, then everyone would be going to that school. When I was joining Cosase (Committee on Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises), that was the same thing said, that “Anita does not have experience.” 

But I performed in Cosase in that a blind person can see that I really did well. Cosase, where I was a co-chair (person) was one of best committees in the 10th Parliament. We redeemed the image of this Parliament. It was talk of the town, of this country. So, when you start talking about experience, I don’t believe in it. What experience do I need to chair a House? Because I am not the one going to do the debate. My work is to steer the House. 

What should the people of the east and Teso expect from you? 
I don’t want to start regionalising this thing. I am a Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, not for eastern Uganda. When I start saying the east must get this, then I will be a Deputy  Speaker for only eastern region. What the east should expect is what the central, west, and north of the country should also expect. So, I am not going to segregate in this case. I am for Uganda and not for one region. 


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