MBALE – On Friday the 28, MaY, Kyagulanyi and his National Unity Platform (NUP) through the Secretary-General David Lewis Rubongoya exercised its constitutional mandate and announced the team that will play the oversight role in the 11th Parliament.
The list includes the Leader of Opposition in Parliament Mathias Mpuuga, Opposition chief whip- John-Baptist Nambeshe, Commissioner of Parliament Francis Zaake, Chairperson Public accounts committee-Medard Segona deputized by Asuman Basalirwa of JEMA, Chairperson COSASE-Joel Ssenyonyi, Vice Chairperson Government Assurances Joseph Gonzaga Sewungu.
Others are Chairperson, Local Government Accounts committee-Martin Ojara Mapenduzi (Independent) with his Vice ChairpersonLuttamaguzi Ssemakula of DP, Representative, Pan-African parliament Patrick Nsamba Oshabe, Representative, Common wealth Parliamentary Association David Kalwanga Lukyamuzi, Representative.
There are about six women among those selected to take up oversight positions in Parliament bearing in mind loyalty, regional balance factoring in religious sentiments and even accorded a chance to the Democratic Party (DP), the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Justice Forum (JEMA) and the independents. I think the National Unity Platform (NUP), Kyagulanyi and all its advisers acted so wisely and will be rewarded in pushing their views across.
It is apparent that even the other parties with representation in Parliament such as People Progressive Party (PPP) and the Alliance for National Transformation will be accorded a chance when it comes to appointment of shadow ministers in the 11th Parliament. To appoint shadow ministers remains a preserve of NUP owing to having more opposition Members of Parliament.
Among the positions that were allocated to women include Deputy chief opposition whip which was given to Manjeri Kyebakutika-Woman MP-Jinja City, Vice Chairperson, COSASE taken by FDC’s Lucy Akello- Woman MP-Amuru District. Others are Chairperson Government Assurances Betty Nambooze Bakireke-Mukono Municipality, Representative Inter-Parliamentary union allocated to Flavia Kalule Nabagabe- Kassanda District Woman MP, Parliamentary Pension Fund taken by Aisha Kabanda -Butambala District Woman MP and also seconded Jolly Mugisha to the National Consultative Forum as its Deputy Chairperson.
The choice of Mathias Mpuuga the Member of Parliament for Mukungwe Division and NUP deputy president for the central region as the Leader of Opposition in the 11th Parliament was also a well informed decision and will go a long way in guiding the opposition during the next five years if no reshuffle is carried out midterm.
Hon. Mpuuga is sharp and articulate, a good communicator, presence of personality and has a reputation of standing up against any bully. Many are scared though that with all the paraphernalia that goes with this very important job, Mathias Mpuuga may not survive this militarized and highly patronized parliamentary house job. Museveni must have sent his blue eyed boys to scout around for some of these guys who have been appointed by NUP.
The controversial John Baptist Nambeshe, the deputy president for Eastern Uganda and Manjiya County MP who abandoned his NRM party was yet another surprise. He was appointed the opposition chief whip although many had anticipated that he would take the position of Leader of Opposition.This guy is the only MP from Bugisu who made it to Parliament on a NUP ticket and is by far a force to reckon with. This Nambeshe man is yet another jigger in the shoe of NRM after Nandala Mafabi, that will give NRM headache in Bugisu Sub region. He is venomous and contagious; he could use his office to light a small candle that will spread a fire and win souls in south Bugisu. He was mainly voted not because he is a NUP member but because he is Nambeshe and easily identified and advocated for issues that affected the common man in Manjiya and Bugisu.
That aside, I have heard the sentiments of many that the majority of the appointees are Baganda, that is partly true but so what. The bible tells us “osokanganabe-wamwe”- that’s all that Kyagulanyi knows; may be with time other places will also get a lion’s share of these top slots but I still insist he has been fair by far and is better than many governments in Africa. I personally thought it was wrong to add another responsibility of COSASE- a very sensitive committee to Joel Ssenyonyi who is already the party Spokesman. If he really wanted him on board or to reward him for his loyalty, he should have made him a deputy to a senior Member of Parliament with some experience.
The Leader of Opposition in Parliament title is bestowed upon the designated leader of the Opposition party with the largest number of representatives in Parliament. One of his responsibilities is that appoints and leads a Shadow Cabinet whose sense of duty is to challenge and influence government legislation in Parliament.
However, NUP has an explanation and an apology to other oppositions parties, if they are indeed an opposition party, why did they isolate Ssemujju Nganda and supported Kadaga for the Speakership position. Is there some beef against their counter parts or it was a marriage of convenience with Kadaga. Irrespective of the underlying reasons, it is time to bury the hatchet and work together as an opposition. They need to bring ANT, FDC, DP, PPP and JEEMA on board, UPC seems to have signed out and have only retained a name for academic reasons.
From what is written on the blackboard as we used to call it, NUP’s biggest challenge is going to come from among other members of the opposition especially the FDC. The disagreements from speakership race where FDC’s Semujju participated and was allegedly sidelined by NUP on the advice of Kyagulanyi. Do these opposition guys have anything in common; my answer is yes and no depending on how we dissect the answers.
With the bitterness within FDC, am not so sure if they will let Lucy Akello to take up the role that has been allocated to her. So far, it appears NUP has taken the largest share of the benefits associated with chairing committee. NUP will only balance the boat by their stand on appointing shadow Cabinet positions and foreign travel. I know that FDC will reject any offers of shadow minister positions but NUP must extend an olive branch.
Kyagulanyi and NUP need to be reminded that to have the majority members of Parliament is not for showbiz; they are an alternative Government and must show NRM how things are done. Firstly, to show the ruling government that appointment of ministers must be balanced such that every region is treated fairly. Secondly, there are some ministers that have served in the NRM government forever; when are they going to give others a chance to offer their leadership? These are the things that we expect NUP to look out for and lead by example, who knows, others may learn even in old age. I rest my case.
The author, Rogers Wadada is a Human Rights Activist and Politician