MBALE – Political instinct seems too dictate to many that the speaker of Parliament – ‘the Parliament’s most powerful person – is the most powerful politician in any country’s democratic nation.
The Parliament of Uganda derives its mandate and functions from the 1995 Constitution, the Laws of Uganda, and its own Rules of Procedure.
The 1995 Constitution provides for the establishment, composition, and functions of the Parliament of Uganda and empowers Parliament “to make laws on any matter for the peace, order, development and good governance of Uganda”, and “to protect the Constitution and promote democratic governance in Uganda”.
What the speaker says is entered into The Hansard and the country will share whether parliament discussed a fall or rise on any public statement by the speaker.
I am not a constitutional scholar, but ultimately I believe Parliament remains supreme, not the executive. If the MPs passed a Motion that the prime minister should get stuffed, the only options available to him/her would be:
[a] Persuade one of his more compliant cabinet ministers to bring to the house a Motion that declares the previous motion to be an abuse of Parliamentary privilege, probably treasonous and certainly totally Out of Order, and thereby nullify it.
But the response the Prime Minister Ms Robinah Nabbanja after the Speaker of Parliament Ms Anita Among and Parliament had on 6 September banned the Nyege Nyege festival makes us see a fight between the legislature and the executive.
I want to remind the government that the relationship between the Executive and the Parliament is the buckle that joins a system of government and determines the character of national politics, the role of key public institutions, and the balance between government and the broader political system.
Ms Among directed the cancellation of the Nyege Nyege festival on grounds that it promotes immorality even when she attracted open criticism from entertainment enthusiasts and members of the Executive arm of the government.
And instead of seeking an audience with the speaker of Parliament, Ms Nabbanja just held a closed-door meeting with ministers and organisers of the festival and later told journalists at a press conference that the event would go on.
“The event will take place as planned. It is an event that attracts thousands and thousands of tourists across the globe and, therefore, the cancellation would be challenging. We also have to think about the economy,” Ms Nabbanja said.
Although this kind of response left the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Anita Among in suspense after her ban on Nyege Nyege was overturned with no respect, she also shot back that she would not withdraw her statement.
“Whatever statement I made was with my full conscience as a Catholic and I am not about to withdraw and I will not withdraw. Whatever happens, Parliament is at peace,” Ms Among said in Parliament.
Today, under the NRM government the reluctance of the founders to make explicit the relationship between Ministers and the Parliament has allowed undisciplined political leaders to thrive and has facilitated Executive dominance over Parliament.
Power has become skewed in the Executive’s favour, replacing the Parliament as the primary forum for decision-making with the party room caucuses.
Yes, Prime ministers are self-evidently important actors in the politics of parliamentary democracies but the ongoing debate about Nyege Nyege indicates that there is some power somewhere speaking through Ms Nabbanja.
If Nyege Nyege does not take place or it takes place, Ms Nabbanja may have made Forbes’ latest list of Uganda’s most powerful people, even when she is part of a dwindling group.
Being close to president Museveni doing what he wants you to do, speaking the way he wants you to speak without asking questions, and going an extra mile to defend him rather than political clout is deemed to be the currency of power today in Uganda politics.
The speaker of Parliament and other moralists accused the Nyege Nyege festival of promoting nude dances and homosexuality and asked Parliament for the cancellation of the controversial festival over concerns of immorality.
And Ms Nabbanja says “The event will take place as planned. It is an event that attracts thousands and thousands of tourists across the globe and, therefore, the cancellation would be challenging. We also have to think about the economy,”
Although this seems to have angered Ms Among and a section of Members of Parliament allied to her, our dear president is yet to weigh in even when he is aware the two; legislature and the executive have clashed over the Nyege Nyege event.
The rift between the two arms of government has not gone down well with a section of MPs who accuse the government of undermining the directives of the House.
This rift between Speaker Among and Prime Minister Nabbanja reminds me of one question a teacher of Physics used to ask us “Do you know what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?
We would all keep quiet, think, and rethink but never get the answer to this. I am not saying this is what is happening, No please but if the event takes place or does not take place, we shall get the answer to this then.
I think in the political history of Uganda, this is the first time high-level members of the Legislature and the Executive have publicly clashed; Ms Among, is viewed by many as pro-executive, NRM and Pro-President Museveni this time went against the Prime Minister Ms Nabbanja.
A lot of revelations about political influence have rocked Uganda’s Media and politics and the question, who is more influential, and who does the president believe in now comes on stage.
I am aware that the Parliament and the media are not debating the influence of the Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament; they are debating another longer hand’s attempt to exercise influence covertly and twist the integrity of the parliament of Uganda.
And now that it seems official that Nyege Nyege will take place after the government defied Parliamentary orders, it is also true that our children will be exposed to vulgar language, songs, expressions, sex gestures, sex orgies, and nudity as well as contraband or narcotic drugs.
And since the two fighters are all women, they should get lessons from this proverb: Women are part of the origin of life’s big mystery on earth; they know the secret of a good life.
Our dear Prime Minister now seems to be the most yellow girl to our dear president, she has been everywhere to market the NRM party and to campaign for president Museveni and so she has a bigger influence in this country.
But a proverb from my village has it that; “He who shows himself at every place will someday look for a place to hide,” Please Madam Prime minister, I have seen you in Bududa Mudslides, I have seen you in Karamoja, I have seen in Kasese, I have seen you in Buganda, I have seen you in the North and I have seen you everywhere, get some lessons from this proverb, please.
Prime Minister, we have respect for you as a mother, a mother of children in this country, a mother of the nation but when you hold a closed-door meeting with some ministers and organisers of the Nyege Nyege festival and later tell journalists that the event would go on defeats our understanding about you.
I expected you to join the speaker of the house and other Parliamentarians to say No to Nyege Nyege or change its outlook because of the immorality it exhibits unfortunately you chose to go against your own, it is sad.
Prime Minister Nabbanja, you who is a good Christian, be reminded that in the New Testament, the word most often translated as “sexual immorality” is porneia. This word is also translated as “whoredom,” “fornication,” and “idolatry.” It means “a surrendering of sexual purity,” and it is primarily used in premarital sexual relations.
I want to state that at Nyege Nyege, our children will go through a kind of immorality and I would like therefore to ask you next time to behave like a leader who shepherds your children [Ugandans] away from immorality.
And as a nation, in order to survive the onslaught of immorality in mainstream culture, you’re going to have to make things happen by taking control of your life and those you are responsible for. If you don’t, you will be a casualty, and so will your family—to whatever degree you allow the antagonists to infiltrate your domain.
You need to realize that the Speaker of Parliament and Parliament moralists who were resisting Nyege Nyege are up against more than just a collection of media mavens with subpar moral views, they are aware that Ugandan children face an unseen enemy whose ultimate goal is to completely destroy God’s family way of life!
In marketing tourism ahead of our children’s morality, Ms Nabbanja you are just a Christian politician who is typically circumspect and only “walking the talk” on matters that benefit the master you serve, you actually have your won hierarchy on faith values.
And lastly, I want to warn you that Society’s exodus toward immorality will take you and your family with it unless you take strong steps to stop it.
The author, David Mafabi is a veteran journalist and PML Daily senior writer