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Age limit debate: Was Kadaga ‘mobbed’ by protagonists for selfish gain?

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The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga is no doubt one of the most accomplished legislators Uganda has had in recent times. Her stature, both at home and abroad, is indicative of a Member of Parliament whose understanding of the legislative practice is backed by prudent judgment.

Indeed, having been in Parliament for close to 20 years, Kadaga is well-schooled in parliamentary procedure and most of her decisions have even numbed and awed even those who seek to criticize her.

In the long journey of her political career as a parliamentarian, Kadaga has seen and done it all, including chairing the prestigious Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), among other international legislative bodies.

Then came the now infamous presidential age limit removal drive, a contentious issue that seems to have sponsors hell-bent on achieving their aims, come rain or sunshine!

Sources indicate that these protagonists led by a certain junior minister, having ‘pocketed something’ and against Kadaga’s wise counsel, objected to the Speaker’s idea of having the age limit bill brought to the floor of Parliament as an Omnibus Bill, in the process attracting little scrutiny from those opposed to the lifting of the age limit.

According to Wikipedia, an ‘omnibus bill is a single document that is accepted in a single vote by a legislature but packages together several measures into one or combines diverse subjects. Because of their large size and scope, omnibus bills limit opportunities for debate and scrutiny’.

So,  needless to mention, the experienced Kadaga that is the Speaker had sensed that by just bringing the bill in a vile manner, Parliament, particularly members of the opposition, would put up a defiant show akin to what we have seen happening in places like Turkey, and, previously, in Kenya.

And yes, she was vindicated when the opposition MPs led by among others youthful Samuel Odonga Otto, Allan Sewanyana and Robert Kyagulanyi, resisted any attempts at tabling the motion and also for Parliament to even debate any other motion.

This then meant that she had put her leadership skills to use, and in the ensuing period suspended 24 opposition MPs and the State Minister for Water Resources Ronald Kibuule, who allegedly acted in contravention of parliamentary procedure and sneaked a gun into the chambers, sparking of the fracas that resulted in the suspension.

Anyhow, since she made the decision to suspend the MPs, Kadaga has been lauded by so many people, not least the Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.

But there are a few questions to be asked.

Hitherto, Kadaga, who has had a clean political slate, has on several occasions had her name crop up as a possible successor to President Yoweri Museveni, when he retires.

This development, perpetuated by a cross-section of Ugandans including some members of the ruling party and opposition, reportedly rubbed some other top party honchos the wrong way.

So, this begs the question: why would some ruling party members keen on its continuity oppose the wise counsel of Kadaga, a seasoned legislator of international repute, to table an Omnibus Bill?

Could it be that her detractors or post-Museveni ‘queueists’ are using her office to pull her down after tarnishing her image?

Anyhow, the jury is still out on the matter but as thing stand the Kamuli Woman MP is still top of the game, and has since successfully chaired debates including the one by Igara West MP Rapahael Magyezi, seeking to expunge Article 102(b) from the Constitution.

And, treading carefully, Kadaga has referred the bill to the parliamentary committee on legal affairs for further scrutiny to see if it passes the test.

Who is Rebecca Kadaga?

A lawyer and politician, Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga has been Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda since May 19, 2011. She is the first woman to be elected Speaker in the history of the Parliament of Uganda, and succeeded Edward Sekandi, who served as Speaker from 2001 to 2011. She is also the current Member of Parliament (MP) for the Kamuli District Woman MP since 1989.

Kadaga, who holds a Masters Degree in Women’s Law from the University of Zimbabwe, is also a globally respected legislator and has chaired international legislative bodies like the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the International Parliamentary Union.

She has also served as the Minister of State for Regional Cooperation (Africa and the Middle East) from 1996 to 1998. She then served as Minister of State for Communication and Aviation from 1998 to 1999 and as Minister for Parliamentary Affairs from 1999 to 2000.

Kadaga was elected as Deputy Speaker of Parliament in 2001, a position that she held until May 19, 2011, when she was elected Speaker of Parliament.



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