Parliament has reconvened after sometime on recess. The break was preceded by that blight of a scuffle that necessitated intervention of specialized security to restore order and defend the sanctity of the legislature which was on the verge of overthrow by a section of unserious MPs.
The resumption of business has seen some serious business concluded like the approval of construction of a brand new international airport at Kabaale in Hoima district. It will serve the prospective oil city.
Back to the unserious MPs: they wish to provoke again. Speaker Rebecca Kadaga who presided over the ill-fated session and her deputy, Jacob Oulanyah, should not be under pressure to explain anything. The duties of their job are well-known and they work under known regulations which can be challenged formally.
Dragging them into small arguments of personal misconduct by individuals is an attempt to blackmail them just because those opposed to constitutional amendments know they will lose any contest any time since they are the minority.
Ugandans have rejected violence and intolerance; that’s why they find it meaningless to side with riotous politicians.
They gave their mandate to MPs to do their work, of deliberating in spoken and written language, not to use mic stands and chairs like the so-called kifeesi.
What’s worse and a big joke is to see MPs who started the problem now coming out to play as victims yet they were the offenders. Parliament has existed for long. No extra security has had to be conscripted to restore order in such a way before.
NRM MPs did not respond when opposition initiated the situation, thus making it a one-sided escalation between opposition MPs and security officers. NRM should start taking on rivals head-on when they ask for it.
Like now, the NRM bench should be the one putting to task the opposite bench to explain their antagonistic behavior which led to destruction of government property. A motion should be drafted and tabled which should individually hold all MPs who instigated others and those who acted cruelly to answer for their behavior.
Footage exists showing who did what and when. Identifying culprits is not a problem. We also have transcripts of planning meetings leading up to the spectacle and, therefore, there are enough grounds to pin and expose those responsible.
While there are suggestions that the next time minority bench tries to cause chaos again, the majority bench should take them on man-for-man, NRM is civil organization that increasingly distinguishes itself by taking charge of its membership, inculcating tolerance and discussing issues.
That’s how the party manages to win over supporters time after time and to have its agenda determine parliamentary business. I see critics calling parliament a rubberstamp of NRM.
Why can’t that be when the numbers say so in a democracy? Parliament is the crux of democracy and established procedure; that’s how business is generated and processed. Everybody joined knowing this; so, no excuses are expected when it comes to fitting in.
I have previously stated that Uganda was headed for trouble if undeveloped members of the younger generation suddenly find themselves with power and clout. Rarely does it end well. That’s why we need senior leaders to stay some more and sow the seed of sobriety in our politics.
NRM’s bench has a sizeable number of these – MPs who have served at least three terms – and the opposition also has some. None of them were involved in the chaos, none of them was injured; they maintained their dignity and that’s why they are respected in their constituencies and are always voted.
So, I have this feeling that we risk handing over parliament to wrong hands. While age is not the problem, some players have been made to feel special just because they are energetic and have power when they don’t deserve it.
Therefore, at every opportunity, they will try to flaunt their presence even without substance. Let’s fight such tendencies and I call upon senior legislators to stand up and be counted; guide the rest.
I expect a motion condemning the wrongdoers as an example that we must respect the forums afforded us by democratic and expectant Ugandans.
The author is a private assistant to the president on media management.