Top mobilisers in the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) have appealed to the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) to disqualify the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga and her deputy Jacob Oulanyah from contesting for the speakership position and instead field new candidates.
The mobilisers said that events leading to the election of the new Speaker involving the two candidates have divided the party support in parliament and likely to affect its performance in its new mandate.
They advocated for neutral candidates that will instead keep the party united.
“We appeal to our party chairperson, President Yoweri Museveni and the CEC members to preside over the matter of the election of the new speaker and set aside the two candidates, they should instead bring new figures who will be neutral and seconded by CEC,” said Muwada Namwanja, an NRM mobiliser in Wakiso district and the party chairperson for Masuulita sub-county.
He implored CEC to consider picking a qualified candidate from outside the rivalry and bickering, which he said involved Kadaga and Oulanya and let the two be given cabinet positions.
He noted that the divisions have been occasioned by early campaigns from both camps.
“The open exchanges and counter-accusations by the two rivals have put our party in public ridicule and it has affected the esteem of our chairperson, President Museveni who should use his powers to prevail over the two candidates,” he said.
Addressing journalists in Wakiso on Tuesday, Namwanja said that it was unbecoming for some members to seemingly assume to be above the party and its structures and also portray themselves as ‘independents’ within.
Namwanja’s suggestions come weeks after President Museveni stopped further open campaigns for the post of Speaker.
“We also need to change the Constitution and include a clause where the President appoints the speaker of parliament since he is elected by the majority, this will lead to a smooth working relationship between executive and legislature and enable easy implementation of the party manifesto,” he stated, adding that this can apply to any other President with majority representation in parliament.
Betty Nalumoso, another mobiliser and former member of the district women league said many supporters were not pleased with the fighting of ‘big’ NRM cadres in parliament.
“We have been following these events and many of us supported Speaker Kadaga because of her good performance but she seems to be derailing when she goes against the party principles by criticizing and attacking her rival in public,” she stated.
Nalomoso also supported the two candidates to step aside but she appealed to the NRM to front the idea of changing the Constitution to allow the President to appoint his own speaker and deputy.
Edward Ssentalo Musambwa, the NRM youth representative at Wakiso Town Council and a party mobilizer said the President should have the powers to elect the Speaker the way it is done with the Chief Justice although they act independently.
Emmanuel Ddombo, the NRM director for information, publicity and public relations said that the mobilisers had a right to express their opinions.
Commenting about the issue of the position of Speaker, Ddombo said that ‘politics is naturally divisive’ and it was true that many NRM legislators had taken sides over the two candidates, Kadaga and Oulanyah.
He however said there was concern within the party that the two leaders had started coming out in the open to talk ill against each other.
“The only problem for them (Kadaga and Oulanya) is that they had started talking bad about each other and also other party leaders getting involved, it is improper because it violates the NRM leadership code of conduct,” he stated.
He added that the matter forced the National Vice chairman, al Hajji Moses Kigongo to write a letter restraining the leaders from making such comments against each other.