Moments after last Thursday’s resolution in Parliament expressing displeasure over President Yoweri Museveni’s disparaging statements against Parliament, the Speaker and MPs, the head of state summoned his Parliamentary troops to plan a counteroffensive, The Witness can exclusively report.
According to sources within the NRM Parliamentary caucus, Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa (Kiboga Woman MP) convened a series of meetings with the caucus leadership, the three NRM backbench Parliamentary Commissioners as well as chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of the NRM-led committees of Parliament to discuss the motion that was debated and passed on Tuesday, May 12, 2020.
To the pro-Museveni NRM politicians, Kadaga used Opposition MPs to pass through the May 7, 2020, anti-Museveni resolution. The motion was moved without notice by Kira Municipality MP, also Chief Opposition Whip, Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda.
After the meetings at Parliament, the group drove to State House Entebbe on Sunday for an interface with Museveni whom they met after the national prayers the President hosted to pray for the end of the Coronavirus pandemic.
At the end of the meetings, it was agreed that a counter-motion be moved to appreciate Museveni for his exemplary leadership in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda.
Mbarara Municipality MP, Michael Tusiime was the first choice for the mover of the motion but was later dropped for Kole North MP Bonny Okello Desales.
Kaberamaido MP Veronica Isala Bichetero was chosen as the seconder together with Markson Jacob Oboth-Oboth (West Budama South), Keefa Kiwanuka (Kiboga East) and FDC’s Simon Oyet (Nwoya).
Unsure of how the pro-Kadaga group of NRM MPs would respond to the motion, Nankabirwa, hiding behind the current COVID-19 guidelines at Parliament, did not select many of the MPs believed to be pro-Kadaga.
That is how the nine Busoga MPs – Henry Morris Kibalya (Bugabula South), James Waira Majegere (Bunya East), Moses Walyomu (Kagoma), Peter Mugema (Iganga Municipality), Andrew Kaluya (Kigulu South), Nelson Lufafa (Butembe), Johnson Bagoole (Luuka North), Geoffrey Dhamuzungu (Budiope East) and Robert Ntende (Bunya South) who last week addressed a press conference in support of Kadaga, missed on the list.
Nankabirwa did also not pick from the group of the 37 ‘rebel MPs’ although Lwemiyaga MP, Theodore Ssekikubo found his way into the plenary session.
To the movers, Museveni needed special recognition because of his insightful leadership, exemplified by the establishment of Covid-19 response structures such as timely detection, tracking and testing of suspected Covid-19 cases, the provision of food and other life essentials to the vulnerable poor in urban areas.
They also lauded Museveni for the establishment of a Covid-19 fund into which the public materially contributes to the government’s response in addition to stopping landlords from demanding for the payment for rent from tenants.
The movers also argued that COVID-29 was declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization and as of May 10, 2020, the Covid-19 virus has affected four million people worldwide, has led to the death of 27,000 people worldwide including 80,000 in the United States, 26,000 in Spain, 30,000 in Italy and 31,000 in the United Kingdom.
“Despite the devastating effects of the Covid-19 virus on some countries such as the United States, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, Uganda has managed, with decisive leadership, to limit the effects of the Covid-19 virus as illustrated by the fact that Uganda has only 116 confirmed cases, of which, 55 have so far recovered and has suffered no fatalities,” Okello said.
They also hailed Museveni decisively closing all virus catchment areas such as institutions of learning, places of worship and other public places, limiting non- essential movements of persons in and out of the country and closed the borders of Uganda to human traffic, including Entebbe International Airport, imposed a night curfew and announcing a lockdown to save the country from the spread of the pandemic.
Oboth-Oboth repeatedly asked for Kadaga’s protection from other parliamentarians who disrupted him through his submission.
“We have been speaking with one voice against Covid-19, why can’t we speak with one voice in recognizing the President?” the chairperson of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee pleaded with colleagues.
And when Kadaga opened the matter for debate, Kilak South MP Gilbert Olanya moved to amend the motion to include Kadaga’s name alongside Museveni’s amid protestations from the NRM group.
The State Minister for Primary Education, Rosemary Sseninde (Wakiso Woman) shot up to argue that Parliament can have another day to debate a separate motion in recognition of Kadaga’s contribution to the fight against Covid-19.
Arua Municipality’s Kassiano Wadri made the situation tenser when he moved that the motion was premature as the COVID-19 fight is still ongoing.
“Madam Speaker, this motion is ill-timed, you can’t appreciate someone when work is still ongoing, it should be after the completion of the work because the numbers [of those testing positive to Covid-19] are still growing,” Wadri argued.
Matters were rested after Kadaga ruled that the motion was appropriate.