By Mary Asujo
As the race for speakership heats up, the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga has accused her Deputy Jacob Oulanyah for absconding from chairing the August house whenever he is called up to duty.
Kadaga revealed this at the official launch of her campaigns for the speakership of the 11th parliament held on Wednesday at Speke resort hotel in Munyonyo. Kadaga noted that on several occasions, she has invites Oulanyah to chair the house only for the latter to decline.
Oulanyah has been missing in the chair for almost a year until he returned to chair the house a few weeks ago when his boss had lost a niece and went for burial. His absence however has been interpreted as a rift between the the principal leaders of the august house with Kadaga being thought to be barring her deputy from chairing the house.
Kadaga highlighted a period in 2017 when parliament was handling Constitutional amendments and during the COVID -19 lockdown when parliament was hosting the East African parliamentary games when she told the deputy to chair the house as concentrate on the games but Oulanyah declined. Another incident was during the debate on the Sugar Bill when president Museveni was going to meet the sugar growers and the speaker had to be present in the meeting. She claims Oulanyah was invited to chair the house but refused.
“In 2019 I told him me I am concentrating on games go and chair parliament he dodged it; the same week we were battling with the Sugar Bill I said the sugar issue is so bad for my area chair the house he refused; …during the time of the age limit while I away, I asked him to handle the Constitutional amendments of the removal of Article 102b but he refused and I had to come the whole way from USA to handle the business” Kadaga stated.
Kadaga told fellow legislators that during her two terms as the speaker of parliament she has managed to move to different parts of the country to discover the problems facing different areas and that is why many people blame her for moving so much.
Kadaga has also attacked critics in the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) who “think that they are too royal” to the party by blackmailing her with a motive to frustrate her bid to retain the speakership. She said they are wasting their time because for her, she serves all Ugandans and that is why she keeps on moving from region to another. She also boasted that she already has 300 MPs willing to support her bid to retain the speakership.
The launch attracted close to 100 MPs with majority from the ruling NRM and few from the opposition. The new parliament will elect the speaker and Deputy speaker on May 20 immediately after swearing in.
Kadaga who is also a member of the NRM Central Executive Committee (CEC) also ruled out a possibility of taking ministerial position in case the appointing authority asks her to relinquish the speakership to serve as minister.
She praised the members of the 10th parliament for standing strong with her decision of not closing parliament during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown despite the request from the minister of health to close the House. She said she took decision because it was a budget period.
She further noted that if she had not taken that risky decision, parliament would have had to first plead with the Health Ministry to allow them to re- open again as has been the case with other sectors yet parliament had huge national tasks to handle.
During the event, the State Minister for Mineral Development and Tororo District Woman MP Sarah Opendi urged Ugandans to stop undermining women noting that Rebecca Kadaga has all the ability to steer the house a task she has proved over time that she can perform better than a man. Hon Opendi said Kadaga deserves to be the speaker of parliament and there is no law which hinders her from getting the third term.
So far, the race for speakership has already attracted interest from four contenders including the current speaker Rebecca Kadaga, her Deputy Jacob Oulanyah, Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda and DP’s Richard Sebamala the newly elected MP for Bukoto Central.