AS THE Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga was busy attending an IPU meeting in Canada, a decision regarding minister designate, Idah Nantaba took place yesterday behind her back. At Parliament yesterday, Kadaga’s deputy, Jacob Oulanyah comfortably chaired an impromptu parliamentary Appointments Committee meeting in which a recent decision quashing Nantaba’s appointment by this same committee headed by Kadaga was watered down. Even Kadaga’s argument that Nantaba must appear before the entire House was guillotined.
Kadaga is currently in Canada attending an Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) meeting. Sources informed us that for the past two months, President Museveni has been having sleepless nights over Nantaba’s political misery. The President according to sources had even reduced on the number of meetings he was holding in State House and also in the Army Council. He instead waited for opportunities to attend fetes upon invitation. Among the fetes he attended was that organised by UPC’s Betty Amongi (leader of Uganda Women’s Parliamentary Association).
Amongi sits on the Appointments Committee but interestingly, yesterday, she snubbed the sitting under unknown circumstances. During the independence jubilee celebrations at Kololo, it was evident that Museveni was not settled because all that was on his mind was Nantaba’s approval. “His only problem was on how Nantaba would be approved by this committee without taking the matter to the entire House,” a source stated. He was involved in endless calls with members to clear Nantaba yet Kadaga wanted the matter to go on the floor of the whole House,” sources added.
On the other hand, Museveni had been insisting that the committee needed to reconvene and reconsider the decision arguing that Nantaba wasn’t given a fair hearing. Through lobbying by MPs Gen. Elly Tumwine, David Ochwa, Victoria Rusoke and Hood Katuramu, Museveni has always implored members on this committee to reconsider their verdict; suggesting that Nantaba was willing to apologise for her misdeeds. As all this went on, Museveni’s aides in Parliament were busy spying on Kadaga and her travels schedules.
It was then discovered that the lady from Busoga would by all means be away this week attending the IPU meeting. Kadaga as the current IPU President was supposed to attend and also open this meeting which ends on Thursday this week. Initially, according to insiders at State House, Museveni had planned to bring back the Nantaba matter next week on Tuesday on the floor where Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah was lined up to chair the meeting.
However, a golden chance to have the Nantaba mission executed availed itself when Kadaga flew out for the IPU conference. First, it was calculated that since Kadaga had recently written to Museveni indicating that two ambassadors (Prof. Sam Turyamuhika for Mogadishu and Dr. Joyce Kikafunda for London) were not vetted because they were abroad, the Nantaba mission would also fit in well.
As such, sources told us Museveni two days ago ordered these nominees to return to Uganda by Tuesday (yesterday) to appear for vetting. These two VIPs actually were the first to appear yesterday for vetting as Nantaba who was accompanied by her sister patiently waited in the parliamentary canteen. When they finally left the committee, Nantaba was called in at 1:15pm and spent there about 40 minutes. She left the committee with smiles written all over her face and went back to the canteen. No person was allowed near the Committee room. The scribes were kept away by well positioned security personnel who watched whoever passed around. Finally, Nantaba was approved on grounds that previously she had been thrown out without ‘a fair hearing’. “We have approved her. the question of rules didn’t arise. It was based on rules of natural justice. If a father says this is right, who are we to oppose?” an MP stated after the meeting.
Because of the urgency to settle the matter before Kadaga’s return, several plans of action were mooted. It started with a decision to bring the remains of DP man from Acholi, Teberio Okeny to lay in State at Parliament on Monday this week. We were informed that this State funeral was granted to this man for two major reasons; First it was calculated that being an Acholi, this would also appease the Deputy Speaker and Opposition MPs who sit on this committee so that they also soften on their stand against Nantaba. Secondly, Museveni had hoped that the deal would fail in the vetting committee.
A plan was hatched that in case it failed, another chance would be; taking the matter on the floor of Parliament today (Wednesday) to be decided at a special sitting chaired by Deputy Speaker. However, for all these missions to succeed, it required numbers in Parliament. So, by bringing Teberio’s body to Parliament on Monday, it was a move to have all MPs back from their constituencies where they had been. In fact, to give it more clout, Teberio’s body was reportedly airlifted from Kitgum. Sources told us Museveni; fearing to annoy Kadaga, also created a separate budget to manage the Nantaba mission.
Working with Government Chief Whip Kasule Lumumba, Museveni secretly asked the Finance Ministry to create a special budget to cater for the MPs’ special allowances for three days. “I don’t want to touch Kadaga’s budget. I have my money. I don’t want to create problems. I am going to cater for the MPs. I want this matter settled on Tuesday and Wednesday. It shouldn’t exceed Wednesday,” top sources quoted Museveni as telling Lumumba. He went on to say,‘please help my gal. She has greatly improved. You will also see her (when she appears). She is a good gal now. Don’t stress her, she has suffered a lot’. To prove how determined the President was to have Nantaba approved; sources informed us that Museveni reached the extent of blacklisting MPs who are fighting Nantaba’s approval.
He named Buganda youths MP, Patrick Nakabaale and Nakifuma County MP, Eng. Kafeero Sekitoleko. ‘That boy Nakabaale is a bad boy. He doesn’t like this gal. That Eng. Kafeero is also a bad boy. He didn’t even win properly” sources quoted Museveni as telling Lumumba. However, because Nakabaale sits on the vetting committee, Museveni took it upon himself to talk to him to soften on the iron lady from Kayunga.
Why Oulanyah Chaired
For some time now, Oulanyah has been in good books with the Executive. The Executive even recently revealed a plot to always sideline Kadaga on crucial State duties in Parliament and wait for any opportunity when Oulanyah would chair.
The relationship therefore between the deputy speaker and Executive has been cordial. The recent decision to accord another Acholi a State burial also bolstered their relationship. Oulanyah is also planning a mega wedding next year. The wedding is slated for January 19, 2013 at Munyonyo. Sources stated that Oulanyah is however, still hunting for millions of cash to finance his function.
Besides, he wants Museveni to be the chief guest on that mega wedding. Insiders now state that because he accepted to execute the Nantaba mission, his chances of winning more of Museveni’s heart to attend and also fund this wedding have widened.
Political observers told us last night that the yesterday decision is likely to dig holes into the leadership of Kadaga as Speaker and Oulanyah as Deputy.
The same deal is likely to create more anarchy between the Executive and Kadaga as she will be viewed as being anti-cabinet. “Other people might think that Kadaga’s decisions are taken without thorough scrutiny. Others might think Oulanyah is an extension of the Executive in Parliament. The two leaders therefore have to sit and harmonise their stand on this issue,” an analyst stated on condition of anonymity. Just like the previous time when members dodged the meeting, even yesterday the turn up was poor. The vocal MPs who voted against Nantaba including Betty Amongi and Rosemary Nyakikongoro didn’t turn up this time.