Details have emerged how EALA Speaker Margaret Zziwa lost allies who backed her election two years ago.
“The likes of Mike Mukula, Nusura Tiperu, Chris Opoka and others who worked hard are no longer on good terms. Lydia Wanyoto did as much but was sidelined long time ago although, to her credit, she maturely managed the disappointment,” informed sources said.
Speaker Kadaga used her clout to influence powerful lobby groups within parliament to vote her amongst the 9 Ugandan representatives. Kadaga, who was very popular then within parliament and population, supported her to be re-elected as EALA MPs.
At some point Barnabas Tinkasimire, who was a die hard supporter of Dora Byamukama, stormed Kadaga’s office claiming Zziwa wanted to run for EALA Speakership. He threatened to mobilize all Bakiga MPs to vote for Denis Namara whom Zziwa defeated with one vote. Kadaga summoned Zziwa who swore upon the rosary that she wasn’t for Speaker-ship.
She wanted only return to EALA as an MP. Kadaga summoned Tinkasimire, Baryomunsi and other influential Bakiga MPs begging them not to shun Zziwa.
Kadaga, who travelled to Arusha to oversee fellow woman Byamukama’s election as Speaker, felt betrayed when Zziwa suddenly ran for Speaker-ship. Their relationship cracked and things have never been the same. Zziwa lost her trust yet Kadaga is still respected and would certainly have begged the EALA MPs to spare Zziwa a fellow woman. She can’t do so now having been alienated.
WHAT WENT WRONG?
In this briefing, we reflect on why Zziwa lost support of all these influential power brokers. Sources say Mukula, who prevailed on then Kenyan Premier Raila Odinga to get ODM MPs back Zziwa, felt unhappy when he was detained for months in Luzira and the EALA Speaker didn’t show as much solidarity as he expected.
Mukula had earlier on spent Shs3 representing Zziwa during Kyenjojo woman Lyndah Timbigamba’s fundraising function. He expected her to reciprocate which never happened. Mukula’s supporters felt the Speaker was ungrateful to the Lion of Soroti as they fondly call him. “That is why he is quiet and not seen anywhere helping Zziwa. He would be all over the place forging reconciliation,” sources said of Mukula.
As for Opoka he two weeks ago met Museveni at Nakasero State House and made his case. The UPC strongman, who vehemently supported Zziwa’s election, told Museveni he had “issues with the Speaker’s character.”
Opoka, who reminded Museveni of their good olden days in UPM, said “the Speaker talks too much” and can’t be advised. An astute lawyer, Opoka told Museveni: “Your Excellence I’m UPC but I’m here because you are my president. We are removing her for Uganda’s good and not vice-versa.” Sources say Museveni passionately listened to Opoka’s eloquent presentation and even took some notes.
Zziwa, who Museveni called in later, dismissed Opoka’s utterances arguing he was being intoxicated by fellow West Niler Nusura Tiperu. Opoka demanded to be respected and carried on. He told Museveni Zziwa doesn’t consult or respect colleagues in the Commission which governs EALA.
“I voted her enthusiastically thinking she was a good leader and the more she stays in office the more Uganda will be exposed as a country,” Opoka told Museveni. He also faulted Speaker for being indifferent when things started. “Members became divided and I expected her to be neutral and unite them,” said Opoka. He also complained about the Speaker’s spouses’ involvement in EALA affairs. Museveni reportedly interjected urging Speaker to “keep your husband in things like EALA parties but not in chamber business.”
Opoka also faulted the Speaker for mistrusting everybody including Shem Bageine who is EALA line minister. “Otherwise why would she refer this matter to you and skip the Minister?” Opoka wondered. We are told Bageine, who Zziwa’s husband Francis Babu recently said was with the MPs against the Speaker, was also in the meeting and told Museveni: “there she goes” as Opoka described the Speaker’s personality. Babu recently said on his Metro FM that Bageine is with the MPs against the Speaker.
Losing Nusura: She has been ill for much of this EALA term and sources say one of the pro-Zziwa EALA MPs visited her in Arusha hospital and on return told members “so and so [names withheld] killed Kategaya. Nusura is now next.”
This comment made Nusura feel bad as if conclusions had already been made she wasn’t returning to Uganda alive. Nusura had previously had a trip to Italy where she spent more money than had been allocated. On return a refund was expected but none came. This alienated Nusura who was doing most of the Speaker’s errands. She also insisted on urgent creation of East African Parliamentary Institute (EAPI) which would create many jobs for many qualified Ugandans at Arusha.
In insisting on this issue Tiperu had her great friend Lydia Wanyoto in mind. Wanyoto, who is experienced in conducting capacity building sessions for new legislators, was being marketed to be the pioneer head for EAPI. The Speaker wasn’t comfortable with the speed at which Tiperu wanted things to move. Tensions emerged between them resulting into current fallout.
The two also differed on none members’ inclusion in EALA netball team. These included one Angela, one Agnes, one Alice, one Olivia and others. The Commission, which Zziwa chairs, created the netball team hardly a year ago. The fallout escalated during the two weeks tournament in Kampala last year. Many wanted to participate yet the team had limited slots: whoever participated got $3000.
Tiperu was replaced with Susan Nakawuki as team Captain. Tanzania’s Shyrose Bhangi had previously been appointed by the Commission to be team Captain. She lost it to Nakawuki and found herself having no role in the Kampala games. The budget was $40,000 to be spent on uniforms in just 10 days.
When Kenya’s youthful Peter Mathuki initiated his petition to oust Zziwa recently, Shyrose seconded it. The netball debacle prompted Speaker to call a meeting for the 19 EALA female MPs. As per Nakawuki’s advice, Zziwa belittled Tiperu declaring she would still become Speaker even if she (Tiperu) didn’t nominate her. Hot words were exchanged and the chaotic meeting ended abruptly. “I nominated you and in fact I now regret and I consider it the worst decision of my political life,” Tiperu angrily told off Zziwa during what was supposed to be a reconciliation meeting.
Tiperu had earlier on also advised Speaker to back off after members vehemently opposed non rotational sessions. Zziwa’s view was to have all sessions in Arusha but members wanted rotational meetings. Tiperu advised Speaker to back off as fast as possible. Sources say that is when uneasiness between the two started. In a recent meeting at Entebbe State House, Museveni was told they fell out after Zziwa advised Nusura to give birth to twins (whatever that means). He was also told of Nusura’s closeness to other EAC presidents.
Nusura was also accused of frequently calling Capt Francis Babu and having a crush on, a charge she denied. “Your excellence I have never called that man.
It’s the Speaker who used to ring me using his number,” Nusura reportedly said. During the State House meeting, the Speaker who was supposed to apologize to be pardoned by members instead put them on the defensive. She accused Sebalu of not respecting her and Mulengani of challenging her whenever she is chairing EALA meetings. Dan Kidega was accused of complaining about being barked at by the Speaker.
Yet the meeting that sealed Zziwa’s fate most was in Rwakitura last weekend. Museveni, who had failed to engage other EAC presidents in Brussels, was disappointed EALA MPs came late. He expected to begin meeting at 11am: they arrived at mid day.
They were 15 with 10 commissioners and 5 chapter chairpersons. After hearing both sides (at some point members threw out Zziwa to first give their version), Museveni said: “okay forgive her because of me.”
As members reflected on Museveni’s plea, Zziwa read out a document begging Museveni to back EALA MPs’ salary increment. “Mr. President you see why we want her out? This is blackmailing meant to create an impression that we signed the petition because of salary increment. We want the Speaker to apologize to us and not you apologizing on her behalf, lest we stay course,” State House sources quoted the chairman of the committee of chapter chairpersons as protesting Zziwa’s move as a disgusted Museveni looked on.
As we write, sources say led by Kenya’s Mathuki EALA MPs are determined to engage in many actions of defiance meant to humiliate the Speaker until she quits.