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The battle for Speakership of 11th Parliament: Here is why iron lady Kadaga has edge over nemesis Oulanyah

The MPs to the 11th Parliament of Uganda were sworn in but they will formally start business with the election of the Speaker of the August House. Former Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and her sworn political rival Jacob Oulanyah, the former Deputy Speaker, are the main characters in the battle to become the next boss of Uganda’s legislature for the next five years.

This news website, having interacted with political analysts on who is likely to become next speaker, brings strong grounds that could make Kadaga beat her closest political rival Oulanyah in what has become a two-horse race. Both political rivals subscribe to the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party captained by President Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Kaguta Museveni and sworn in on May 12, 2021 for his sixth term of office that should among others see the country produce its first oil, all factors remaining constant:

Kadaga has NRM blood

Unlike Oulanyah who crossed from the once powerful Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), analysts say Kadaga was bred by NRM and has served in different capacities as a dependable NRM cadre. On the other hand, Oulanyah crossed to NRM for political survival, especially when he learnt that the NRM had captured the Acholi sub region from the opposition. The NRM MPs who make up majority numbers in 11th parliament will have to consider this fact while voting for the next Speaker of Parliament. “They (NRM MPs) cannot just hand over that important post to the person who joined the party for political survival,” said a Former Resident District Commissioner (RDC).

Kadaga’s close relationship with Museveni vital in reclaiming post                                                                                                           

It is a fact that Museveni is the most powerful individual in Uganda. He is also the most powerful member and Chairman of NRM. Yet it is also true that Kadaga enjoys a close working relationship with Museveni. They have driven together in Museveni’s car, all taking the front seats. Not many politicians, including Oulanyah, have had this experience. In fact those within corridors of power say whenever Kadaga makes a call to Museveni, he picks immediately. She is among a few NRM cadres that Museveni relies on to solve some of the political problems. NRM MPs will not forget this assessment when voting for the right speaker.

Experience as Speaker

It goes without saying that Kadaga who first became Speaker of Parliament 10 Years ago, has more experience than Oulanyah in serving in that juicy position. She also served as Deputy Speaker at the time Edward Ssekandi was Speaker. The MPs who have been working with Kadaga know that she can skillfully steer the House for the next five years. On the other hand Oulanyah has been learning from her, even though the former UPC diehard thought Kadaga would leave space for him to occupy, given that at one time Kadaga is said to have asked NRM’s Central Executive Committee (NEC) to give her two terms, as was the case with her former boss Ssekandi. Oulanyah first contested against Kadaga for speakership in 2016.

Regional balance

Uganda’s push to have regional balance in political appointments and job placements plays well for Kadaga who comes from eastern Uganda, one of the poorest regions in the country. The Judiciary is led by Justice Owiny Dolo, from northern Uganda. The executive is headed by Museveni from western Uganda. If Kadaga is elected, eastern Uganda will be represented at the three top most positions in the country. It is unlikely that the MPs will allow two people from the northern region to head the two arms of government –the judiciary and legislature. “Therefore the issue of regional balance in terms of political representation could help Kadaga beat Oulanyah,” a political commentator said.

Gender equation

Uganda is one of those countries in the world that are on the right course to empower women at least to be on the same footing with men. The country has done so through politics, job postings and education. To note is that we have district and city women members of parliament who would want to have a woman speaker of parliament. While voting, MPs will have it in mind that men already head the executive and judiciary arms of government. Which means the MPs especially women MPs may vote Kadaga over Oulanyah to appease Ugandan women who are the majority voters in the country.

Kadaga has maintained power and status of parliament

An independent woman, Kadaga has kept the independence of parliament as provided for in the constitution. She has on several occasions clashed with the executive whenever she realizes the latter is undermining her institution. She has also reminded the executive to do its work as provided for in the constitution. “Kadaga wants parliament and executive to support each other, not to undermine each other and MPs would want to have such a speaker who defends the independence of parliament,” said a veteran political journalist who has covered parliament for over a decade now.

Further, unlike Oulanyah, Kadaga has on several occasions fought for the welfare and dignity of the MPs. She is on record for castigating security forces for harassing and torturing MPs She worked hard to have the pension scheme for MPs established. She does her work not basing on political party inclination and has gained the favour of opposition MPs and NRM moderates. “In fact MPs appreciate her for her guidance. MPs cannot overlook Kadaga when it comes to voting for a person who will keep the status of parliament intact and remind the executive about the independence of parliament,” said a former MP who lost his seat in the recent election.

Kadaga as people’s woman

It goes without saying that unlike Oulanyah, Kadaga is much loved across Uganda. She has worked with several communities in Uganda. She has worked with several women leaders, some of whom have become MPs and see her as their role model. “That puts Kadaga in a better position than Oulanyah when we consider the number of MPs that have worked with the former speaker, are women and are in the 11th parliament. They will vote for her,” said a community based activist who worked with Kadaga on a project to promote girl education in Busoga.

Kadaga as person of international repute

Unlike Oulnayah, Kadaga is person of international repute and whenever she goes she defends Uganda on several matters such as prohibition of homosexuality in Uganda. She has addressed international gatherings in Uganda and abroad. Kadaga understands international politics. The MPs cannot just do away with such a person of Kadaga’s caliber. Still on the world stage, she has campaigned against female genital mutilation, domestic violence, corruption and has promoted girl-child education, maternal health and gender equality. “She has been the voice of the voiceless in Uganda,” said a female MP of the 11th parliament.

Busoga region, darling of NRM

Since NRM came to power, Busoga region has been its darling. The region has always sent NRM learning MPs to parliament, save for the recent election when some areas voted for National Unity Platform (NUP). The region has always voted for Museveni. The popularity of the NRM in Busoga is tagged to Kadaga’s work over the years. Her mobilization skills for NRM are commendable. “Oulanyah has not played a big role in bringing the northern region under NRM. He found others had done it,” said a politician from Gulu, adding that, “NRM know should they make Oulanyah speaker, they will completely lose Busoga region to the opposition.”

Kadaga as a cautious speaker  

Those who have watched Kadaga speak at national or international gatherings say she speaks carefully so that everybody gets clearly. This is not so with Oulanyah. For instance, not long ago, while speaking at Kololo Independence Grounds during Anti-Corruption week, Oulanyah claimed that every Ugandan was corrupt, a statement that Museveni took as being unrealistic to Ugandans who are not corrupt. Museveni would while speaking to Ugandans tell Oulanyah that he was not corrupt however much he was Ugandan.

Finally the verdict by political analysts in Uganda is that the contest between Kadaga and Oulanyah is stiff but that Kadaga will emerge the winner given the limelight she enjoys over Oulanyah, who thinks CEC must stick to the party rules and be on his side to defeat his former boss.

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