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House Divided On Bill To Institutionalise Independents

Independent legislators in parliament yesterday faced resistance in their push for a bill that seeks to legally establish the office of dean for independent leaning parliamentarians.

The bill titled ‘Administration of Parliament Amendment Bill, 2019’ was early this year moved by Kabale Municipality MP Andrew Aja Baryayanga, an independent MP himself.

During yesterday’s plenary, several MP opposed the new bill.

Kira municipality MP Ibrahim Semujju Nganda was first to raise an objection saying this bill if passed, will serve the selfish egos of independent legislators rather than augment representation.

Unlike political parties, he said, independents do not represent any specific political thought and have turned out to be auxiliaries of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM).

“Some of the colleagues this side are sometimes associating with NRM more than NRM itself”, he pointed out.

Budadiri West MP Nathan Nandala Mafabi (FDC) and Anita Among (Independent), the Bukedea district woman MP, also exchanged on the floor, with each accusing the other of double standards.

Mafabi accused the former FDC treasurer of political scheming, saying in the last general elections, she picked the party card as a way of blocking her direct challenger.

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Anita won the seat unchallenged.

“And indeed she won on independent and we never brought a candidate.”

Challenged, Mafabi refused to rescind his submission saying he is ready to avail credible evidence.

However, Cecilia Ogwal a long serving legislator who participated in the formulation of the 1995 constitution says now where is it stated that there is no legal requirement to belong to any political party before running for MP.

On the other hand, Kasambya county MP Gaffa Mbwatekamwa says although legislators like him are likely to be independents in 2021, he is not in support of it. Mbwatekamwa says a considerable number of NRM leaning independents actually enjoy far more privileges compared to him an NRM card bearer.

“How can they be orphans when the majority are NRM leaning and they have benefitted more than we have benefitted in our party? In Kyankwanzi they are even eating more than we are eating”

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga deferred debate on the matter to Thursday to allow members more time to internalize the bill contents.

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