The race for Speaker of the 11th Parliament turned uglier on Friday, hours away from the closure of the window for MPs subscribing to the National Resistance Movement (NRM) to seek the party’s endorsement for Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Parliament, as ministers joined Jacob Oulanyah to bash Kamuli Woman MP, Rebecca Kadaga.
Oulanyah, the Omoro county MP, has for the past 10 years been Kadaga’s deputy at Parliament but the two are now in a bitter fight for Speakership, a contest that is threatening to split the ruling party.
On Friday, Oulanyah hosted a thanksgiving event at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel which was attended by an estimated 80 MPs plus some ministers including the former Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa, who lost her re-election bid to Christine Nakimwero Kaaya of the National Unity Platform (NUP).
Much as she is out of Parliament, Nankabirwa has offered to campaign for Oulanyah ahead of the May 24 elections for Speaker at Kololo independence grounds in Kampala.
Since her appointment as the Government Chief Whip in March 2015, Nankabirwa has enjoyed a frosty relationship with Kadaga whom she one time blamed for her political fortunes in Kiboga though in a new twist of events, she has downplayed the Kamuli Woman MP’s abilities.
“Kadaga did not fight me in Kiboga; she doesn’t have that capacity, it’s only God,” Nankabirwa said.
Nankabirwa told the Sheraton hotel gathering that she and other colleagues she did not name turned their backs on Kadaga because of her abrasive approach to politics.
“Harmony is very key but the way I see things it’s as if we are choosing between life and death. No, we are not,” Nankabirwa said, further blaming Kadaga for creating unnecessary tension at Parliament.
“It will stop being a Parliament of pretense and tension. Tension is too much, you do things not because you enjoy but you fear they will put me aside,” Nankabirwa said.
Nankabirwa was joined by former ministers, Betty Amongi (Kampala), Robinah Nabbanja (Primary Healthcare) and Bright Rwamirama (state for Animal Husbandry) to throw jabs at the Kadaga.
“We are here not because we don’t like Kadaga, we are here because we love Uganda more. I can say we have not been breathing. We now want to breathe in the next five years and we must breathe and on Monday we are going to say ‘we must breathe,” Amongi said.
“I am very convinced that we must choose a God-fearing person. We must avoid people who go to the shrines. I am a serious Christian; I cannot associate myself with that,” Rwamirama said.
The NRM Central Executive Committee (CEC) is expected to meet on Saturday to vet the aspirants for the two positions before the party chairman, President Yoweri Museveni, convenes the parliamentary caucus on Sunday.