This especially pertains to opposition MPs. When push comes to shove, they are going to feel the brunt of having a functionary in the Speaker’s seat. Kadaga was basically a parent to all those people in Parliament. They confided in her and she attended to each and every one of them regardless of creed or political affiliation. The weight of the opposition MPs thrown behind her candidature echoed how much she was seen to be above the hugely partisan political environment today.
Jacob Oulanyah also has his strengths. He fully understands parliamentary procedure and will serve with legislative restraint radically different from Kadaga who was a legislative activist. There are positives in his style.But he has to contend with the public perception nationally that he has been deployed to perform as a yes man. I know he might disprove all.
Admittedly it was difficult for government to function with Kadaga at the helm. She exposed it too much (perhaps for the good of the public interest and maybe bad for the political dynamics especially for the president and her party).
Sometimes she cut across more like an opposition MP than a representative of the ruling party that deployed her to mind its parliamentary business. And she was authoritative, credible and believable. Very different from when opposition MPs state the shortcomings in service delivery etc.
But to her credit she had made parliament very powerful and reliable in dealing with public grievances that reached its desk. It is unclear if the public will have confidence to carry petitions to the 11th Parliament like they did when Kadaga was at the helm. In her they saw someone who could hold government to account.
Will the new Speaker and his deputy speak out or summon ministers to explain publicly when for example gross violations of human rights take place, such as the violence against and disappearance of many blood soaked NUP supporters who remain unaccounted for to date?
That voice in Kadaga that was able to rise up to the occasion and hold government accountable might have gone.
That said, Kadaga might have failed the loyalty to her political party and the president test during COVID-19. To many hawks in NRM they felt that she actually mobilized an insurrection by MPs, when they attempted or rather passed a vote of displeasure in President Museveni. This was after he questioned their self-allocation of UGX ten billion to help them fight COVID-19. One report allegedly sent to president stated that she was one of some cadres (who have also been dropped) whose intended or unintended exposure of government in different fora, accounted for some of the near failure of the president to have a landslide victory in the January 2021 polls. President Museveni got a paltry 58.6%, his worst performance since 1996.
Without a motley of factors (which a large group of European and American Professors have also been attempting to scrutinize), he could easily have failed to win by simple majority.
There were also concerns that Kadaga could be a stumbling block in the elaborate succession plan in Uganda. For many NRM cadres (with the exception of the president or his son who I have never heard say anything about this), the best suited successor to President Museveni is his son, Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba. But there is a very complex question on how and when this succession can take place. Some cadres think without Museveni being around, it is practically impossible for Gen. Kainerugaba to sail to the presidency or even wield any power because they think he derives his power or place in succession politics directly from the president.
Another group of cadres believes the General has come of age and will take care of that business when he wants to. In fact, they want him to announce his interest in the presidency.
Kadaga, being a dominant national figure with tremendous influence over 440 Members of Parliament, then and now 527 Members of Parliament spread out in constituencies all over the country, she was almost getting to the position of king or queen maker or become queen herself at the right time. And noticeably to avert any announcement of a presidential bid, there is an elaborate smear campaign against Kadaga alleging corruption at parliament that started almost immediately after the results for the election were announced.
A document detailing these allegations has been doing rounds in the digital space and seem to be a forewarning that if she attempts to wrestle power from the president, those investigations (claims which are not yet proven) will be probably carried out. And with sufficient precedent of trumped-up charges against Besigye, Kyagulanyi and others, Kadaga will be no exception from the look of things.
It is equally apparent that NRM was averse to Kadaga’s good intention that the independence of Parliament needed to be seen by its electorate. If government officials (not government) bought spoilt food and distributed it as COVID relief, there needed to be a voice that spoke out. However rather than attribute it to government, she should have pinpointed the departments or officials that were liable.
As party ideologues openly attacked her and cadres began to doubt her loyalty to the party which took her to parliament (or on which flag she stood to go to parliament), she argued that by managing the constitutional amendment to remove age-limit, NRM could not accuse her of being disloyal. That statement which she thought would earn her marks in the party had the reverse effect. It caused problems both in NRM (where it was thought that she wanted to show the president had lived to see another term at her mercy) and in the opposition (where it evoked memories of the brutal invasion of parliament and beating up of dissenting MPs during the age-limit debate).
President Museveni should be commended for handling this politically. There were no beatings, no maiming, no arrests etc. Perhaps because it was a straight forward victory? I wonder how it would have played out if Kadaga was at 310 and Oulanya 197? Glad it ended as peacefully as it started.
The ramifications of Kadaga’s departure are still subtle. But it is likely that NRM has to find out how to deal with sections of the East and the gender question that both resonated through protests from different women movements in the country and in Busoga. The presence of Anita Among (although a lightweight in the greater east) in the deputy speaker position might be one of the measures to mitigate these reactions from women groups.
Busoga is definitely mourning. Predictably immediately after the events of Sunday, Captain Mike Mukula (who is the party’s Vice Chair in charge of the region), presumably under the instructions of President Museveni (who is a master of carrot and stick) vowed to bring back Kadaga to NRM.
Following the massive defeat NRM experienced in Busoga in 2021, at a time they would be working through Kadaga a close ally of the Kyabazinga, to re-secure the subregion, it will be difficult for NRM to regain it ahead of 2026 with Kadaga in the cold. So, it is expected that she will bounce back somehow.
Congratulations to Jacob Oulanya and Anita Among for winning the elections and to Kadaga for putting up a spirited fight with the state, the president and all the party organs ganged up against her. 197 votes in those conditions is probably 900 votes in real terms if extrapolated politically. May parliament continue to serve Uganda effectively
Do you have a story in your community or an opinion to share with us: Email us at email@example.com