On December 7, some 149 NRM MPs and a few independents voted to give the Energy and Mineral Development minister powers to negotiate and seal oil contracts.

Only 39, the bulk from opposition and a handful from NRM, opposed this move. What the public needs to be reminded is that we were not actually voting on something new but on a clause already passed by Parliament.

Parliament, in its wisdom, had removed the absolute powers to negotiate, grant and revoke oil licences from the minister and given it to the Petroleum Authority.

The authority would negotiate, license and revoke, with the approval of cabinet. This clause (9) had been passed by Parliament. President Yoweri Museveni, who has gathered both pace and skill in micromanaging the country, was the only Ugandan displeased by this development.

In fact, he told the NRM MPs that they had legislated him out of the oil sector. Mind you, the seven commissioners on the authority will be appointed by him and approved by Parliament. It is, therefore, not that he feared the authority, but simply wanted to negotiate, license and revoke the licences himself.

The man looks at oil as a personal and family business, probably the reason his wife, who had missed previous parliamentary sittings that considered the oil bill, descended on the house during the reconsideration of Clause 9. I use the word ‘descend’ deliberately because each time Ms Janet Kataha Museveni comes to Parliament, we are besieged by her elaborate military escorts.

The uniformed ones will take charge of all entrances and non-uniformed ones will be all over the corridors of Parliament. I believe this display of might is intended to intimidate the average NRM MPs in Parliament, and in truth, they look frightened each time she shows up.

And of course Lt Gen Kale Kayihura had also ferried dozens of policemen to Parliament to ensure that the public did not access the House. We honestly passed the oil bill at gunpoint. A colleague raised this matter with the Speaker but she also faced her own intense pressures from a powerful clique that has, literally, taken over our country.

Even MPs who had not stepped in Parliament for months were all mobilized for this vote – the likes of Sam Kutesa, Aronda Nyakairima, John Nasasira, Mwesigwa Rukutana, etc. Even Maj Gen Jim Owoyesigire, who was recently sacked for his role in the choppers crash scandal and had hardly been seen since, reemerged.

There are lessons for the public in all this. First, you should trust the majority of NRM MPs at your own risk. On major issues, especially those that threaten the life presidency and personalization of the state, they will vote against their conscience. The advantage with an institution is that you share credit and criticism in equal measure.

The public is excited about the performance of the 9th Parliament, but it also has individuals who are worse than those who endorsed the life presidency project. About 100 MPs cannot even comprehend the complex matters before them. And they are unhappy to be labelled ‘voting machines.’ Just forget about all this excitement about the 9th Parliament moving to restore presidential term limits.

But most importantly, our ‘fights’ in Parliament have raised the profile of the oil sector in the country and I am sure it will never be the same again. You will recall that even accessing the oil wells was once an insurmountable task. Everything about oil was classified. Museveni’s son, Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba, it was reported, was the overall commander of the oil protection unit.

It was also reported that Museveni’s younger brother, Gen Salim Saleh’s private security firm, Saracen, provided the bulk of guards. So, oil was, and probably still is, a Museveni family business. What our debates have done is to remove the veil on oil. Yes, the clique can still loot the proceeds from oil but we have made everybody aware of what is going on.

This, to me, has been the biggest achievement of the oil debate. Every Ugandan is now aware that we have oil deposits capable of turning around our fortune. The oil debates have also resurrected the dormant civil society. This had been more interested in organizing workshops and didn’t want to be seen fighting the dictatorship.

In this vein, ACODE has earned my respect. It equipped us with relevant knowledge on oil and the dangers facing Uganda if we mess up the sector. Therefore, while we may have lost the vote, there is a lot that we have gained as a country. Finally, let me take this early opportunity to wish you a good end to the year 2012.

The author is Kyadondo East MP.
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+6 #1 kamugisha 2012-12-12 08:55
cant agree more Hon. Ssemujju! Your analysis is spot on. Happy new year to you too!
+2 #2 Muslim 2012-12-12 11:44
Hon. SSemuju, thank you for your analysis. Uganda is a very vulnerable country. First because most of the population are less educated and cannot properly perceive issues of national concern. For this reason, they cannot "punish" bad leaders through elections. Second, and most worrying is the fact that the educated political leaders are so disappointing, for their failure to do the right thing!!!

Uganda's Parliament has failed our country many times before - and once again, they have done what they are best at - being arm twisted to support the dictator, who knows how to intimidate them whenever he wants to get his way.

Such is the country where the Lord chose to group us together in one country. We are powerless and hopeless in the face of a greedy dictator and funny MPs.
+2 #3 kelem 2012-12-12 14:18
SPOT-ON "In fact, he told the NRM MPs that they had legislated him out of the oil sector. Mind you, the seven commissioners on the authority will be appointed by him and approved by Parliament.

It is, therefore, not that he feared the authority, but simply wanted to negotiate, license and revoke the licences himself."
0 #4 Steven Nsubuga 2012-12-12 23:54
Until all Ugandans gather the courage to force the sun to set on Museveni and Musenism ...the curse that is Museveni will be cast on us until his demise!!!
0 #5 Katherine 2012-12-13 00:19
You guys have played your part amidst challenges of unprincipled opponents and yes even though on short term you may seem to have lost, the seed of awareness is planted!

Keep the fire burning, we are behind you in the struggle to liberate ourselves
0 #6 doctordre 2012-12-13 11:05
Could not agree with you more. It is time for Ugandans to revise the Constitution. How do you expect the country to progress when one party has more than 65% (I) of parliamentary seats.

The MPs should be answerable to Ugandans, not individuals.
I know this would not have happened in Ghana, which is almost a 50-50 nation, where the ruling party struggles to get more than 50% of the votes and parliamentary seats.
0 #7 pat 2012-12-13 13:40
Hon Semujju, we need a national referendum on the issue.we can not allow this kind of impunity to go on. please use your platform to call upon Ugandans to demand to own what truly belongs to them.
0 #8 a.k poorman 2012-12-13 14:52
we dont have mps as per now we museveni still da leader of uganda,very sorry to fellow people ugandans

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