Government Chief Whip Thomas Tayebwa has disclosed that the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party is in the process of concluding a deal with both Independent and unidentified Opposition MPs to support government legislative agenda.
Mr Tayebwa made the revelation on Tuesday during the handover ceremony of the party’s caucus leadership at Parliament where he reiterated that government had prioritised 20 Bills to be passed into law.
Although the NRM majority controls the House, Mr Tayebwa explained that the support of independents and Opposition leaders will be required to reinforce their position since the laws are for Uganda.
“We are finalising a number of Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with friendly Opposition members and Independents. We are also open to have a working relationship with Opposition political parties. We are already working with Uganda People’s Congress, but we shall be formalising all this,” Mr Tayebwa said.
In the 11th Parliament, NRM retained the majority number of MPs accounting for 336 MPs, while the Opposition MPs are 109 and Independents are 74.
Mr Tayeebwa, however, did not disclose the number of Opposition or Independent legislators they are talking with but reiterated that an MoU will be signed soon.
Mr Tayebwa’s revelation came ahead of the anticipated tabling of controversial amendments to the land laws that would provide for protection of bibanja holders, tax idle land, compulsory acquisition of land for development purposes and reform mailo land tenure system which the government says has exacerbated evictions especially in central Uganda.
In June, President Museveni described the colonialist Mailo land tenure system used in Buganda Kingdom as an evil system, wondering how some people can be in support of a system that disadvantages others.
The Mailo land tenure system came into force with the signing of the 1900 Buganda Agreement that created different land tenure systems in Uganda. In this case, squatters pay a taxation fee to the principal traditional kingdom, Buganda.
Mr Tayebwa has called on NRM MPs to back the government proposals once introduced before Parliament and ensure there isn’t a repeat of the 2017 age limit legislation where 27 NRM law makers voted against the controversial amendment.
“As a party and the NRM parliamentary caucus, we shall support those proposals largely. We shall ensure this agenda passes. As a caucus, we must work closely with our party. We aren’t independent of our party,” Mr Tayebwa said.
During the handover ceremony, Mr Tayebwa also revealed plans by NRM to make it compulsory for all the 377 legislators to have social media presence so as to enhance visibility of government programmes and resolutions.
“We have to ensure that each and every NRM member has a social media account. We can agree on the main ones including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We don’t want to be depending on someone else’s mercy to give us publicity. And I love the media, you have done a great job but sometimes we need to come in and beef it up,” Mr Tayebwa said.
Asked how the new directive will be enforced yet government still maintains blocking of Facebook, he said discussions are ongoing to lift the ban.
Mr Tayebwa also ordered NRM MPs to seek party position before they table private members bills before Parliament.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the National Trade Unions, Mr Wilson Owere, said he is disappointed over the delay by President Museveni to assent to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Amendment Bill 2019 to enable contributors to access 20 per cent of their savings. He says the Covid-19 lockdown means people are facing hurdles paying for treatment and caring for their families and need the money.