Time flies. It is hard to believe that we just went through another election cycle and another political season is upon us.
The 10th Parliament has had its share of public ridicule for many things.
From the Age Limit amendment to the stint on the tables by the ‘honourables’ to other countless moments of indefensible things.
Still, it is difficult not to respect the woman at the helm of it all. I often think that without her we would be having more horrifying stories out of Parliament.
Ms Rebecca Kadaga has had her fair individual share of criticism. The one everyone wants us to remember, and never forget, is her crime of staying on affirmative action seat for nearly three decades. Even in the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of National Resistance Movement, she prefers to represent women.
People remind me all the time, that she is not serious, ‘how can she be on affirmative action?’ But I tell them, ‘because she understands this politics better than most people do’.
Why be silly and loose an election trying to prove a point when you actually understand your constituency? Some women have lost brilliant political career trying to do that. And what if the women’s interest is where her heart is?
Today I wear my sisterly hat, to give Ms Kadaga respect. I will not look at the many things that went wrong, because some were not her personal fault anyway. But I will focus on the things she did right. And those are many for the years she has been around. Let me count the ones I care about.
One, respect for the real contributions she has made towards women friendly or pro-women legislation. Weather it is Succession Act or Sexual Offences Bill most recently passed, her support for such legislation is a critical contribution to women’s empowerment. Sorry Ms Monica Amoding, the leader takes the credit.
Two, respect for the practical reforms she has pursued at Parliament to make it friendly for mothers. Those who know, know what I am talking about and female legislators of child bearing age will be better leaders for it.
Three, respect for the intentional support towards the institutional development of Parliament, which has been expanding to accommodate the ever growing number of MPs.
One hopes that part of madness of creating districts will end with the 10th Parliament.
Four, respect for being mindful about the welfare of MPs, no matter what. It is always interesting watching her defend her decisions where the welfare of her MPs are concerned, taking the heat with grace.
Whether it is billions that the beneficiaries cannot defend or renting a tent for a handsome amount to protect members from contracting Covid-19 and sitting under trees, she is a leader willing to take it all for her team.
Five, respect for steering Parliament through this difficult time of Covid-19 and ensuring business of the House continued. This was no ordinary time for leadership and certainly not for the faint hearted. That Parliament remained functional, is something to respect her leadership for.
Six, for creating time for causes that matter to many. Whether it is a cancer run or student walk for something, she brings herself to many of the things some leaders would not find worth their time. I remember her making time for our Rotary Club of Makindye years ago when we gave her honorary membership. She still had fun whenever she showed up.
Seven, respect for mastering the art of being vocal when it matters most. She has not from time to time, shied away from saying the difficult things. Whether she is facing off with fellow women or some men, she is firm. If it is rotten milk, she will still mention it.
Eight, respect for being an effective voice of representation both internationally and nationally. She has been a great representation for women’s interests and also national ones abroad. Despite what is sometimes difficult politics, she has largely gone above board.
Nine, respect for opening Parliament up a little more to the public. From children to different groups, she has tried to demystify parliamentary space and enabled a little more public scrutiny.
I should stop here. Leadership of that nature is often a thankless job. For those who dare to lead, and lead well despite serious odds, we owe a little support once in a while.
For taking her place on the table gracefully and even owning the table, she deserves respect. And for using her affirmative action seat for the good of ordinary women, more respect. She has normalised women’s participation in politics at that level.
Ms Maractho is the head and senior lecturer, Department of Journalism and Media Studies at UCU.