Can Rebecca Kadaga be a backbencher in the 11th Parliament? That’s the question only her can answer.
If the Speaker of almost 20 years settles for a role of a backbencher in the next Parliament, she can go on and stand.
I have spoken to several legislators in the current Parliament who swear they will never vote Kadaga as speaker again. That’s if politicians can be dependable. These MPs say the Speaker acts like a bully head teacher and treats them like school going children. Many loathe her style of people management and cannot wait to see her term coming to an end.
Kadaga has also bruised her allies especially in the Opposition who stood by her during her election as Speaker, who however, have higher chances of returning to the house. Few moments in Kadaga’s 10th Parliament stand out like the military raid on Parliament, beating up MPs, including Betty Nambooze and Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake to pulp. The other is her insistence that Abdu Kantuntu remains chairman of Cosase against new appointment of Mubarak Munyagwa.
Yet, Kadaga is not necessarily popular among the ruling party’s diehard as well.
President Museveni has always found Kadaga difficult to work with and at the beginning of the 10th Parliament clearly preferred Jacob Oulanyah, who turned out second in command at Parliament but has been overshadowed by the Kamuli queen.
That said, many people today believe Oulanyah was a fairer Speaker than Kadaga. Her attempts to leave Oulanyah in charge of the controversial Age Bill debate didn’t damage him at all. And if anything has affected him it’s the MPs seeing Oulanyah as a smart Speaker. Oulanyah has also played his cards well, knowing he has a longer political future than his boss. He has left her to run the show as she wants it.
Meanwhile, if Kadaga chooses to stand in 2021, but fails to stand as Speaker if she reads the signals well, she will have to wait on President Museveni to appoint her either vice president or prime Minister. Already her position makes her third most important person in the country. So the only job she fits in vice president of Uganda if she doesn’t retain her job.
But that’s where the problem is – appointment to Cabinet is the onus of the President.
Museveni cannot appoint an abrasive person Vice President and doesn’t want to be overshadowed. Secondly, Museveni’s known for rewarding his cronies. However Kadaga has often given him headache and therefore cannot be in position to reward her with such an honor.
And Kadaga may not take up any other Cabinet role which would make her a mere minister like the fellows she bullies.
Losing a vice presidency slot, or at least a premiership, would leave Kadaga a mere mortal, a backbencher. Or, she will just stay out of competitive politics and remain a senior citizen.