The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga and her Deputy Jacob Oulanyah have openly disagreed and both travelled out of the country consequently making the resumption of plenary sitting, critically supposed to start processing Budget Framework Paper, being postponed twice.
ChimpReports has exclusively learned that both Kadaga and Oulanyah were aware of their trips abroad and communicated to each other before taking separate flights, unsympathetically, leaving the national assembly with no presiding officer when they both knew the scheduled house resumption of January 7, 2020.
On December 19, 2019 while presiding over the last sitting, Kadaga adjourned the house to January 7, 2020 for members and staff to enjoy Christmas holiday with their beloved ones. On January 3, Clerk to Parliament sent notice of extension of plenary sitting from January 7 to January 14 2020.
Again on January 9, the Deputy Clerk to Parliament issued another notice of postponement of plenary sitting from January 14 to January 21.
This investigative website established that on December 27, 2019 Oulanyah wrote to Kadaga notifying her that he had scheduled to travel to Germany to attend the Uganda-Germany Business Associations Promotion from January 2-24, 2020.
In her reply on December 31, 2020, Kadaga also gave Oulanyah her notification of a planned trip to Ottawa Canada to attend the 25th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers from Commonwealth countries (CSPOC).
The Speaker, overtly, “declined” to consent to the notification of her Deputy and instead urged him to reschedule his trip to the next recess (holiday).
“I therefore decline your notification of absence given the busy schedule that we have during this period and urge you to plan for it during another recess,” said Kadaga according to knowledgeable sources.
The two later travelled out of the country in their respective schedules.
The above development between the Speaker and the Deputy is unprecedented since the promulgation of the 1995 Constitution.
The Constitution in article 82 only deliberates on the election of the Speaker and the Deputy but does not specify the authority each over the other. Also Rules 5, 6 and 7 of Rules of Procedures of Parliament only address the powers of the presiding officer but does not specify the authority of Speaker over the Deputy.
When contacted on phone, Parliament’s Spokeswoman Helen Kawesa said there is no standstill at Parliament and committees are doing their work of analyzing sectoral budgets.
“Business at Parliament is going on as usual. The focus is now on Committee work. Committees are now analysing sectoral budgets in the lead up to the budget process which should be completed by February. We are busy,” said Miss Kawesa.
She added that the absence of Oulanyah and Kadaga has not created any gap.
“The two principals may be out of the country but we are not at a standstill……MPs have been given an opportunity to concentrate on Committee work, so that the budget process is on time. Plenary resumes on Tuesday 21st as communicated by the Clerk. There is no crisis. We are okay,” she added.
The correspondences between Kadaga and Oulanyah however clearly depict crisis in the House only presided over by the two.
The critical cavity in the administration of the national assembly, uncovered by this website, should now be examined by the stakeholders to avoid the current dilemma.
Parliament researcher, Hippo Twebaze told ChimpReports that the similar scenario (travelling not disagreement) happened during the National Resistance Council (1986-1995) when its chairman, President Yoweri Museveni travelled at the same time with his deputy, Moses Kigongo.
“Almost a similar incident happened during NRC. Chairman Museveni and his Deputy travelled out of the country at the same time. There was no one left to chair the house.”
The NRC occurrence, according to Mr. Twebaze, was however cured by the appointment of then backbencher, Rebecca Kadaga, who was chairing a committee on security, as the Alternate Chairperson.
“I remember Kadaga was picked from the backbench to be the Alternate Chair in the event that the Chairman and the deputy were absent,” he added.
Twebaze acknowledged that the Constitution and the Rules of Procedures of Parliament do not expressly address the current situation and both should be revisited.
“The Constitution and the Rules should be visited to address the impasse,” he concluded.