Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has criticized government chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa for claiming a 2016 ruling National Resistance Movement Central Executive Committee (NRM CEC) decision binds her to stand down for Jacob Oulanyah.
Kadaga is seeking a third term as speaker, while Oulanyah — her deputy for a decade now — wants to snatch the third highest position in the land from her.
During March 10 plenary, pro-Kadaga MPs complained that Nankabirwa had continued to use Whatsapp to ‘whip’ members into accepting that the NRM CEC decision was still binding five years later.
“On different forums such as Whatsapp, the Chief whip has been cited saying that CEC has decided on who should be speaker in 11th Parliament. Is it in order for the Chief whip to continue saying that CEC has decided , yet the Speaker is elected here in Parliament,” wondered Bugabula South MP Maurice Henry Kibalya.
“There is information that CEC does not want you to be the Speaker in the 11th Parliament. I put it to you, is it true Madam Speaker that CEC does not want you to be the Speaker when we are supporting you,” asked Kashambya MP Gaffa Mbwatekamwa.
In response, Nankabirwa explained she was reminding Kadaga of that arrangement.
“I belong to one of the Whatsapp groups, we named it 317. I am the chair of the NRM caucus, and that position makes me a member of the NRM CEC. I attended CEC in 2016 when, we were handling the candidates who had contested that time for Speaker and the deputy, and there were negotiations and even this time there will be negotiations,” said Nankabirwa.
“What I posted was a reminder of CEC position of 2016. Where CEC convinced Hon. Jacob Oulanyah to step down for the Speaker.”
But Kadaga sought to silence Nankabirwa.
“Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa does not speak for CEC; the decisions of CEC do not bind this house in anyway; so stop bringing issues of CEC here,” said Kadaga.
She also downplayed CEC’s 2016 decision.
“I don’t think CEC has a right to bind the future Parliament, before they are even elected. That is undemocratic. Stop talking about CEC here, we are talking about issues of this House here. Secondly, CEC last sat during the primaries, so stop issues of CEC here.”
Kadaga further dismissed Nankabirwa’s claims are false, further alleging her opponents were vulgarizing the speaker election.
“Claims by one Minister that she sits in the NRM’s CEC & that she was in attendance when certain national leadership positions were ring-fenced for particular individuals, are false. It would be undemocratic to build a future Assembly even before it is elected,” noted Kadaga.
“I and several MPs are appalled at vulgarisation of campaigns for the office of Speaker and Deputy Speaker. Hitherto unheard of practices of printing posters, T-shirts, pens, etc are taking centre stage. The Committee on Rules should interest itself in this conduct.”