What if Speaker Among does the honourable thing and resigns? 

Author: Musaazi Namiti. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • When the #UgandaParliamentExhibition, an online exposé of corruption in Parliament, started in March, it conducted a poll on social media in which 20,636 Ugandans voted, and 88 percent wanted Ms Among to resign. 

Shortly before I started writing this article, I googled “Speaker Anita Among, corruption, Parliament” and got 1,280,000 results. 

To be clear, these results do not necessarily translate into credible accusations of corruption against Ms Among and Parliament. They simply mean there is a substantial amount of online information about corruption allegations against her and the institution she leads.

The search results on top were about the April 30 sanctions slapped on Ms Among — along with former Cabinet ministers Mary Gorreti Kitutu and Agnes Nandutu — by the UK government for alleged corruption. 

When I scrolled to the bottom, I saw a note from Lumen Database, which collects and analyses requests for the removal of material from the internet, saying it had removed two results in response to a legal request submitted to Google.

Ms Among continues to give the impression she is unfazed by corruption allegations, but there are perfectly good reasons why she needs to contemplate resignation seriously. 

The first reason is that few Ugandans are convinced she is still fit for purpose.

When the #UgandaParliamentExhibition, an online exposé of corruption in Parliament, started in March, it conducted a poll on social media in which 20,636 Ugandans voted, and 88 percent wanted Ms Among to resign. 

Foreigners are not impressed either. Last week, I emailed the UK High Commission in Kampala and asked why the government had slapped sanctions on Ms Among, yet the Director of Public Prosecutions had closed her case file in connection with the alleged theft of iron sheets for the people of Karamoja.  

My email singled out Mr Amos Lugoloobi, the State minister for Finance and Planning, who had been charged in court and remanded but was not sanctioned. 

For days, there was no response and I followed up with a phone call. When the email came, it said: “The Speaker has also been implicated in other instances of corruption.” The email did not give further details. 

The second reason Ms Among should quit is that Parliament itself is mired in corruption allegations, yet it is supposed to fight corruption. 

In its April 26-30 edition, The Observer newspaper reported that MPs had allegedly received bribes ranging from Shs500,000 to Shs2m to push for the retention of certain agencies that the government had proposed to return to their mother ministries. 

However, Ms Among dismissed the allegations, saying no Member of Parliament (MP) was bribed. “How can you bribe the whole House who are willing to even put up their hands to vote?” she said, adding that Parliament’s legal department should sue The Observer newspaper because it was allegedly sowing seeds of hatred among Ugandans to hate their Parliament.

Another serious corruption allegation against Parliament has come from Mr Odonga Otto, the former MP for Aruu County in Pader District. Mr Otto alleged in a phone interview unrelated to this article that a committee of Parliament received a Shs300m bribe from a government agency. 

He said the person who leaked this information to him is an MP who delivered the bribe to the committee and was disappointed because he/she was offered only Shs15m. 

You could say these are mere allegations, but what if the Right Honourable Speaker does the honourable thing and resigns — and set the stage for a proper investigation? Wouldn’t this restore confidence among disillusioned Ugandans if the probe finds her clean?

Mr Musaazi Namiti is a journalist and former
Al Jazeera digital editor in charge of the Africa desk
[email protected]    @kazbuk