Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga on Wednesday exchanged bitterly with Government Chief Whip Hon Ruth Nankabirwa on the floor of the house, as members debated the dark turn that the campaigns for speakership of the 11th parliament has taken.
Kadaga blasted her sworn enemy, Hon Nankabirwa (who chairs the NRM Caucus) for trying to superimpose the views of the ruling party (NRM) on the rest of the house as regards the speakership.
She also accused the outgoing Kiboga Woman MP of pretending to be the spokesperson of the NRM Central Executive Committee (CEC).
Earlier during the debate which was started by Hon James Kakooza of Kabula County, Nankabirwa was accused by several colleagues of propagating falsehoods and misleading information about the race for speakership.
The Chief Whip had reportedly posted in a WhatsApp group that the NRM CEC and State House had pronounced itself that it doesn’t support Hon Kadaga to retain the speakership.
Kadaga, is now seeking her 3rd term but is facing stiff competition from her deputy Jacob Oulanyah.
“The allegations are all over social media by my Chief Whip here, that CEC doesn’t want you Hon Kadaga,” said Hon Gaffa Mbwatekamwa of Kasambya County.
In response, Nankabirwa took to the floor and admitted sharing these messages.
She said she had posted the messages in order to remind the current speaker and her team that it was CEC which put her in her position back in 2016.
“It is true; I belong to one of the WhatsApp groups. We call it 317. I am the chairperson of the NRM caucus and I sit on the NRM CEC,” Nankabirwa explained.
“I attended CEC when we were handling candidates for speaker and deputy speaker…and what I posted was a reminder of CEC’s decision of 2016, where we persuaded Hon Oulanyah to step down for Kadaga”
“This is just a reminder that I made, that there were negotiations that time there will be negotiations this time.”
These comments however, angered Kadaga, who interrupted her.
“Hon Nankabirwa do you want us now to bring the CEC members here to confirm or deny what you are saying,” she retorted.
“Kadaga went on to warn the NRM Chief Whip not to bring her party’s views on the floor of the house, which makes the ultimate decision on speakership.”
“Hon Nankabirwa doesn’t speak for the CEC she is not its spokesperson. Secondly, I don’t think that CEC has a right to bind a future parliament. That is undemocratic. stop talking about CEC here”
Kadaga also took time off to condemn what she termed as vulgarization of the speakership campaign.
She noted that different camps had now stooped to direct campaigns that involve printing T Shirts, books and posters, which not allowed.
Earlier, Energy Minister Hon Sarah Opendi had decried the ongoing bribery in the speakership campaigns, terming it as “disgusting and unacceptable”
“We have been electing speakers without monetizing it but when you look at what is happening now you wonder whether this is going to be a transactional parliament”
Meanwhile, some of the MPs supporting Kadaga encouraged her to stand her ground despite the views of some of her party members.
Hon Asuman Basalilwa noted that the NRM CEC “should not be allowed to decide the speakership issue”
“Regardless of CEC’s decision you must be on the ballot paper. I hear the machinations going around but where do you leave us who don’t sit on CEC and are not in your party.”