Parliament yesterday approved the appointment of the Vice President and Prime Minister, effectively completing what was largely seen as a ritual, and beginning official work.
The process saw the “Aye” group of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party dictate every step of the vetting, while the “Nay” group was subdued.
The Aye group shielded the Prime Minister, Ms Robinah Nabbanja, from scrutiny by Opposition, who had signaled that they would rigorously vet her to ensure she is the right person for the job.
With that in mind, NRM legislators hatched a plan to block any debate on Ms Nabbanja’s vetting.
First, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, (Kinkizi East) moved the motion to approve the appointment of Ms Nabbanja, which was seconded by Ms Betty Amongi (Oyam Woman).
Shortly after, the Deputy Speaker, Ms Anita Among, opened the debate, and Mr Abdi Chemaswet Fadhil (Soi County) moved a motion to end debate on the Premier’s appointment.
Ruling party MPs seconded the motion, and Ms Among immediately subjected the process to a vote, which the NRM members overwhelmingly supported.
In the run up to the parliamentary approval, Ms Nabbanja’s appointment had generated a lot of debate.
While many doubted her ability to lead government business and implementation of its programmes, her proponents defended her, saying her effective mobilisation skill is an asset President Museveni needs.
Dr Baryomunsi said Ms Nabbanja will make government programmes move faster, adding that her age makes her a bridge between the past and the future.
“She will bring force, stamina, ability and diversity in the Office of the Prime Minister. She is a person who coordinates well both with the Opposition and government. She has excellent mobilisation skills, and will work well to rally people for government programmes,” he said.
Ms Amongi said Ms Nabbanja completes the affirmative action theory that was set up to groom girls for leadership positions.
“The affirmative action was not meant for girls who went to good schools, but to raise the girl-child from rural places to rise to the position of leadership. I am happy today that this has come to be fulfilled by her appointment,” she said.
“Her appointment is a true reflection of a Ugandan who has risen from the grassroot to the highest position, and Ugandans will identify with her. She is a mobiliser, and therefore will excel in her responsibility because she understands the vision of the appointing authority,” Ms Amongi added.
Earlier, legislators approved the appointment of Ms Jessica Alupo as Vice President.
While moving a motion to approve her, Mr Thomas Tayebwa (Ruhinda North) said Ms Alupo has a distinguished track record in her previous appointments, and that appointing her only caps the stellar careers she has had in government service.
Mr Ojara Mapenduzi (Bardege-Layibi Division, Gulu City) said while he does not doubt Ms Alupo’s capabilities, her position has been reduced to a ceremonial role, only to fulfil the constitutional obligations, without clearly defined responsibilities.
“My prayer is that Alupo will be given chance to change the face of that office and remind Ugandans that that office is very useful to this country. For many years, we have seen Ugandans joking on social media announcing that Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi is still the vice president of Uganda. We hope this doesn’t happen to Alupo,” Mr Madenduzi said.
Mr Chenaswet said he had to stop the debate so that government can focus on service delivery.
“We are operating in tough times which demand tough measures. So approving the VP and Prime Minister with minimal or no debate comes as one of the measures we needed to take. This will see the government address the needs of Ugandans who are struggling through the Covid times,” Mr Kisos said in an interview.
Mr Gerald Ibanda Rwemulikya (Ntoroko County) said MPs trusted the President’s judgment, and therefore there was no need to waste time on vetting the duo.
“This approval is a sign that as MPs we trust in the President’s decision. We have officially set the state in motion because government business and activities will start for all Ugandans to be served ably,” Mr Ibanda said.
VP, Premier pledge
Both Ms Alupo and Ms Nabbanja pledged to work closely with Parliament in executing their responsibilities. They also promised to serve Ugandans regardless of their political affiliations.
“I pledge to work with all sides in this August House to ensure that the NRM manifesto is implemented as well as other government programmes. I will not spare any energy while serving this country on this appointment. You will work very closely with me [and] as a team to ensure that we all serve our country which we all love very dearly,” Ms Alupo said.
Nabbanja said Ugandans expect quality services from government. “This we can execute through timely implementation of government programmes. I appeal to us to focus on what is good for this country. We are going to make sure we bridge the gap between Parliament and the Executive so that we are able to serve all Ugandans,” she said.
Reported By Franklin Draku, Esther Oluka & Arthur Arnold Wadero