KAMPALA —Before we delve into what led to Hon. Kyagulanyi defeating President Museveni in Busoga sub-region, we need to first look at a brief history of Rt. Hon. Kadaga Rebecca Alitwala. President Museveni appointed Hon. Kadaga Minister of Parliamentary Affairs in 1999, a position she held until 2001. During this period, she was able to prove herself as an upcoming leader in Parliament and in 2001 she was elected Deputy Speaker of Parliament, a position she held until 2011. In this period of 10 years as Deputy Speaker, she built her base in Parliament and in 2011 she offered herself as a candidate for Speaker of Parliament. Rt. Hon. Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi the then Speaker of Parliament, on detecting a likely defeat, withdrew his candidature and Hon. Kadaga was elected Speaker of Parliament. Thereafter, Rt. Hon Jacob Oulanyah was elected Deputy Speaker on 19th May 2011. On 24th May 2011 Hon. Ssekandi was appointed Vice President of Uganda, a position he holds till today. In 2016, the re-election of Rt. Hon. Kadaga as Speaker of Parliament was not easy but she fought very hard and retained it.
We should remember that Rt. Hon. Kadaga was very instrumental in the installation of the current reigning Kyabazinga of Busoga, William Wilberforce Kadhumbula Gabula Nadiope IV, whose coronation was on 14th September 2014. By 2015, she had established herself as the power broker in Busoga region. Ever since 2015, whenever Rt. Hon. Kadaga’s position is threatened or she is under attack, majority of politicians from Busoga and Bugisu sub-regions have always come to her rescue. She even got the block support of Busoga and Bugisu sub-regions in 2020 when she was attacked by President Museveni for giving out UGX 20 Million COVID-19 money to each MP.
When Hon. Persis Namuganza came up to contest against Rt. Hon. Kadaga for the 2nd NRM Chairperson position, many politicians from across the country believed that Hon. Namuganza had support from the top leadership of NRM. It did not take time before NRM leaders like the Chief Government Whip, Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu came out to campaign for Hon. Persis Namuganza. Hon. Nankabirwa’s strategy of coming out to openly campaign against Rt. Hon. Kadaga was aimed at luring other NRM MPs and NRM leaders in the districts across the country to campaign and vote for Hon. Persis Namuganza. This did not work and Rt. Kadaga won with 6,776 votes against Hon. Namuganza’s 3,943 votes and thus defeating her with 2,833 votes. So Speaker Rebecca Kadaga was re-elected the 2nd Vice Chairperson of the NRM’S top organ, the Central Executive Committee (CEC) in 2020 before the 2021 national elections.
When President Museveni campaigned in Busoga region, the Basoga expected President Museveni to come out and support Rt. Hon. Kadaga and also warn those who were fighting her to stop. Yet when President Museveni was speaking to NRM delegates from the districts of Kamuli and Buyende who had converged at Kamuli Youth Centre compound, he only argued that there was no way he could harbour differences with Kadaga and yet pretend to be working with her. He then dismissed claims that he had outstanding political differences with the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga. Those who read between the lines, interpreted President Museveni’s statements to mean that he was neither fighting Rt. Kadaga nor supporting her. So, after the departure of President Museveni, many NRM leaders in Busoga region went on ground and openly campaigned for Hon. Salaamu Musumba of FDC who contesting against Rt. Hon. Kadaga for Kamuli Woman MP seat. As this confusion was ongoing, there came Presidential Candidate Kyagulanyi who expressed love for Rt. Hon. Kadaga and openly told the people of Busoga that President Museveni was fighting Rt. Hon. Kadaga but they should vote for her because she is good person. The people at the rally held in Kamuli cheered Hon. Kyagulanyi for supporting one of their own, Rt. Hon. Kadaga.
Political actors should know that the people of Busoga and Bugisu sub-regions want part of the national cake and they know that it’s only Rt.Hon. Kadaga as of now who can do it for them. When they look at the leaders of the three arms of government i.e. the Executive, President Museveni is the President; the Judiciary, Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo is the Chief Justice and then for the Legislature currently its Rt. Hon. Kadaga who is the Speaker of Parliament but if she had lost her parliamentary seat in 2021, this would most likely go to another region like Northern Uganda in May 2021. So, looking at what was at stake, the Basoga could not drop Rt. Hon. Kadaga from Parliament because it was against their interests. Many Basoga perceive Hon. Persis Namuganza and team as being used by external forces to disadvantage Busoga sub-region. Bugisu sub-region feels the same way and even if Rt. Hon. Kadaga contested in a constituency in Bugisu sub-region, she would be elected Member of Parliament. The vote for Hon. Kyagulanyi was a protest vote against President Museveni but also to send a message to President Museveni; ‘’treat our daughter well, we still love her and want her to be in Parliament as Speaker’’.
So as we head to May 2021, there is going to be a heated contest for Speaker of Parliament position. This will be between Rt. Hon. Kadaga and her Deputy Rt. Hon. Oulanyah. As of now Rt. Hon. Kadaga commands support of more than 95% of elected members of parliament belonging to NUP, FDC and DP. She also has majority support among the elected independent MPs. This gives her over 150 votes for Speaker of Parliament position. Out of the over 350 NRM MPs, she only needs not more than 150 to win the Speakership. NRM Women MPs are likely to overwhelming vote for her since men are in charge of the other two arms of government. It may be unwise for NRM leadership to open another contest against Rt. Kadaga in Parliament. NRM should focus on heeling divisions in eastern region and regaining its support in this region. Rt. Hon. Oulanyah could take up the Deputy Speaker position again as NRM prepares him to join another arm of government. Rt. Hon. Oulanyah is an excellent advocate and royal NRM cadre who could take over as Chief Justice after Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo.
The author, Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba is a Former Presidential Candidate (2016); [email protected]