Rebecca Kadaga this week named a team of politicians to mobilize support for her re-election bid, demonstrating her dogged determination to remain speaker of parliament.
Trusted sources at parliament told us that Kadaga met with a group of MPs on April 7 and they agreed to set up structures that shall amplify her campaign in various parts of the country.
The team is headed by Raphael Magyezi, the Igara West MP, deputized by Isaac Musumba, the Buzaaya MP-elect. Sources said Magyezi wants to be deputy speaker, and that Kadaga promised to back him. Magyezi confirmed he will lead Kadaga’s re-election taskforce and told us that his task will be to ensure that he reaches out to all MPs across the political divide.
“I have a huge assignment as head of the taskforce. We have about 460 members who are voters. I have to make sure we reach all those members and get the message,” he said.
Magyezi said the taskforce comprises MPs from all sub-regions who are friends to Kadaga.
“Some of them are still new but I am glad that they have been following whatever Kadaga has been doing in Parliament; so, they know who Kadaga is. We want to jealously protect the independence of Parliament and Kadaga is the only person who can do that for this country,” he said.
Asked to reveal the source of funding for the campaign, Magyezi said majority of members on the campaign team are volunteers.
He said they have got information that one of their opponents is promising MPs juicy committee jobs, ministerial positions, frequent travels and additional allowances.
He said: “We are not afraid of all these empty promises. What I know is that Kadaga is going to win with a huge margin. We know CEC is with us and even if she does not go through in CEC, we are going to ask for a secret ballot because the constitution allows us to do so.” CEC, is NRM’s central executive committee, which is the second-highest decision-making organ of the party.
Other MPs on Kadaga’s task force include Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal, Kasilo MP Elijah Okupa, Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda (Kyadondo East), Betty Amongi (Oyam South), Kafeero Ssekitoleko (Nakifuma) and Rosemary Sseninde (Wakiso Woman). Others are health state ministers Dr Chris Baryomunsi and Sarah Opendi.
Besides members of the taskforce, other MPs who attended the meeting include Betty Nambooze, (Mukono municipality), Winfred Kiiza (Kasese Woman), and Denis Obua (Ajuri).
These MPs were tasked to campaign for Kadaga amongst their colleagues and one of them told us: “We have already registered positive results”.
The MP said that Kadaga has been fought by her own party. And Kadaga, the MP said, won’t bow to pressure from a section of NRM members who want her out of the race in favour of Oulanyah. Ssemujju confirmed he is part of the team that will campaign for Kadaga.
“I am one of those members who support Kadaga to retain that seat,” he said.
Betty Amongi said the team will try hard to convince Oulanyah to step aside for Kadaga.
“I know by the time we go into elections of the speaker, Kadaga will be unopposed. We are talking to Oulanyah and I know he will listen to us,” she said.
Nambooze said she will handle members from the Buganda caucus since she is the caucus vice chairperson.
“We must protect the independence of Parliament. That is why I have decided to join Kadaga,” she said.
Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga), who is vying for deputy speaker, said he backs Kadaga to retain her seat.
“We need to fight for the independence of Parliament. I want also to assure all my supporters that I will not change if I am voted deputy speaker of the 10th Parliament,” Ssekikubo said.
Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East) said, Tuesday, that he was more than ready to campaign for Kadaga to retain her seat.
“I have already appointed myself to be one of her campaign managers. I must fight for that lady,” he said.
Against the wishes of the ruling party, Kadaga declined to dismiss Niwagaba and three other ‘rebel’ MPs from parliament after they were expelled from the NRM.
Joseph Gonzaga Ssewungu, the Kalungu West MP, said he will be campaigning for Kadaga in Buganda and Busoga sub-regions.
“We must fight for that lady to come back as a speaker by all means. Whether Museveni wants her or not, for us we are ready to take him on and see who will be the winner at the end, Kadaga is very powerful and she is only waiting to swear in as speaker,” Ssewungu said.
In the same meeting, some MPs, led by Nambooze, proposed that Kadaga repairs her fractured relationship with journalists but the speaker maintained that some journalists were not professional.
“I want her to mend her fences with journalists because there is no way members will have their voices heard by the voters when there is no good working relationship between Parliament and journalists,” she said.
Over the past weeks, Kadaga has intensified her attacks on people she perceives as stumbling blocks to her bid, including her deputy Jacob Oulanyah, who told The Observer last week that he, too, was more than determined to become speaker.
Speaking to CBS radio on Monday, Kadaga described Oulanyah as “greedy” for eying her job yet he has been deputy speaker for only five years. When Kadaga met Museveni during the retreat for new NRM MPs at Kyankwanzi in February, she reportedly told him that the speakership was all she had to contribute to the country.
Museveni advised candidates then not to engage in any form of campaigning since the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) will sieve the names. Yet in light of her numerous comments, some critical of her opponents and her continued campaigning, some members want her to face the party’s disciplinary committee.
Meanwhile, insider sources have told us that some CEC members are proposing that Kadaga and Oulanyah should not be considered for the speakership because their victories are being contested in court.
Their fear, according to a source, is that the two candidates could lose their petitions and hence their positions. Kadaga’s opponent in Kamuli, Deborah Mwesigwa Mugerwa, dragged her to the High court in Jinja seeking nullification of her election as Kamuli Woman MP.
She claims Kadaga engaged in voter bribery. Oulanyah’s victory in Omoro is being contested by FDC’s Simon Toolit.
In his court petition, Toolit states that although they are satisfied with the results of 47 out of the 59 polling stations in Omoro constituency, they are concerned about the results of the 12 polling stations which were left out of the final tally.
Toolit says the errors on the declaration of results forms show that Benson Obeta the Gulu district registrar, was under pressure to ensure Oulanyah did not lose. The declaration form shows that Toolit garnered 6,823 votes against Oulanyah’s 8,218 votes. Oulanyah declined to be interviewed for this story.